How To Get Good Customer Service At Local Bike Shops?


Go Clipless posted up an entry discussing an unsatisfying customer service experience at a heralded local bike shop, and how that single failed transaction likely cost the outlet future business. Unfortunately for Graham, he went into a shop that likely rides its reputation to keep new business coming in and, unlike places that have helpful shop workers who go out of their way to help new customers, had to deal with sales reps who seemed surly and disinterested.

Unfortunately, it’s my experience that this type of poor service is the rule rather than the exception in the retail biking industry and it really is a shame — developing a good relationship with a good shop really is something that every rider deserves. It’s also something that keeps people coming back for more — and enthusiastic cyclists usually spend far more than spiteful ones.

Graham’s experience got me to thinking about some of the sour transactions that I’ve had in the past and helped me compile a list of the different types of customer-repelling shop employees:

  • The bullshi**er: While it’s obvious that this type of employee really does love bikes, their information is usually wrong or misleading. Fortunately for me I can see through their spiels from a mile away, but others aren’t so fortunate. The folks who buy bikes based on advice from these shmoes often get what they don’t need.
  • The surly know it all: These people know their bike stuff and are a treasure trove of information. But their personalities dictate that they must browbeat potential customers into submission. These guys also let you know that you’re a dirtbag for letting your chain get a little rusty or allowing your derailleur to fall out of adjustment.
  • The cycling pro: This person is an up-and-coming ripper or a seasoned vet on the race circuit and they let you know it. In fact, they let you know how absolutely inferior you and your skills are to them, so much so that if you choose a Deore derailleur instead of an XTR that you are not worth their time and aren’t welcome back to the shop.
  • The biking fool: Often confused with the Bullshi**er, this type of shop employee doesn’t actually know anything about bikes. The quality of their advice is poor and any seasoned cyclist can tell that they don’t ride often (or at all).
  • The procrastinator: This is the type of employee that is most likely to push me out the door, never to see me again. I’m an experienced rider and am pretty knowledgeable about gear and cycling in general, so I can usually call out any of the other bums mentioned above, but these folks tell you they’re going to do something and never carry through with it. Seriously, how difficult is it to order in a rim or a derailleur and have it arrive in a reasonable amount of time? I understand that my order won’t always be there the next day, but I do expect that it will show up. And I do expect a call letting me know that the item has arrived.

Of course, the lousy customer service experiences are offset by the good ones, and good transactions are the ones that keep me coming back for more. If more shops realized this and made a sincere effort to get people interested in their products (and services) instead of relying on reputation and plain ol’ ability, they’d probably find that their bottom line would increase and more riders would walk through the doors of the shop. To buy bikes, order new parts, get tune ups, and talk about bikes.

Feel free to add your favourite unfavourable type of shop employee in the comment box below because I know that there are more of them out there, lurking under stones or behind the counter at one of your local shops.

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