My 92-year-old father is deaf – or nearly so. He is also very social, so not being able to hear well isolates him. Dad has hearing aids, but being five years old, they were failing and frustrating everyone.
The family finally convinced him to go to a hearing specialist. George was bubbly, thorough and very experienced. He explained the technological advances made in the hearing industry. After the tests, he discussed Dad’s options, all the time telling him how well he would hear with the new devices. “You will hear noises you haven’t heard for years,” he enthused. He even let us leave the store without paying for the hearing aids to test them in different environments.
Dad wasn’t impressed. He didn’t think he could hear much better with the new hearing aids. He said they made things too loud and words were difficult to understand. He still had to read our lips to understand what we were saying.
We returned to the store and explained Dad’s experience. “That’s what 90% of customers say,” George said. “What they don’t understand is that the brain has to learn to interpret what the ears hear now. That takes a little time.”
That was new information. Was this the truth or was George just trying to make a sale? Why hadn’t he mentioned this fact earlier? We’d left with expectations of much improved hearing. Now we were learning something different and we were skeptical. George was no longer as trustworthy as he’d first seemed; he’d made a serious customer service mistake.
It’s tempting to do the easy thing, promising customers what they want to hear. However, when things don’t work as promised, it raises doubt in the mind of the buyer. Unfortunately, this is the exact moment they’re looking for reassurance that they are making the right choice.
When you explain outcomes of a potential sale to a customer, don’t put your reputation at risk. Be candid, back up your promises with facts and anecdotes. Then back off and let the buyer decide. Remember you are looking for a delighted, repeat customer who will spread the word about your product or service.
By the way, Dad has ninety days see if the hearing aids deliver as promised.
The road is easier together,