Big mistake. Big. Huge.

“You people work on commission, right?”


“Big mistake. Big. Huge…”

This well-known quote from the movie Pretty Woman resonated with so many people. In the movie, the character Vivien receives no customer service inside a high-end clothing store because of her appearance. As a result she took her business (an large amount of spending money) with her.

Have you ever felt invisible to an organisation that you were considering doing business with? It is often enough to take your money elsewhere.

Making prospects and customers feel invisible is often not as dramatic as a sales assistant talking on the phone to a friend while you wait in line at a store. It can be having a contact form on your website with no phone number to be found, not responding to inquiries or not giving personal attention to your customers.

Spend a few moments taking stock of every form of contact that customers and prospects have wtih your business.

  • Do you make it easy for people to interact with your business?
  • Are you and your staff approachable?
  • Do prospects feel welcome and valued when they come in contact with your business?
  • Is your customer feedback welcomed and appreciated?
  • Do your marketing messages reflect your target audience and do they acknowledge their needs?
  • How often do you make a point of connecting with your prospects and customers?

Don’t give people a reason to give their business to your competitors. Make sure your customers and prospects never feel invisible or unimportant, unless of course you are not interested in profitability.

Have you ever been treated by a business as though you were invisible? How did you respond? ever

4 thoughts on “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”

  1. In one situation, many years ago, I was treated very much like a number as the sales assistant followed her sales script and mapped out little salesy process, without taking any initiative to listen or vary so as to even try and meet me needs. I was invisible, I was a ‘wallet with a heart beat’.

    I was in the dressing cubical, top on, trousers down when the door burst open and a fake smile beamed with a nasal, “how ya gettin’ on there, darl?” Me being younger and far less tolerant, I took all the items off their hangers, turned them inside out, crumbled them and dumped them in the corner, got dressed, stepped out and promptly said I will never shop here again.

    Being far more mature now (maybe) I certainly wouldn’t treat the clothes the same way however I would get dressed, step out and say I would never shop here again and explain why.

  2. Wow Sally, what an experience! Good on you for having the guts to let the store know that you would not shop there again. I wish more businesses understood the ramifications of just how much their customer service impacts their sales and reputation.

    A ‘wallet with a heart beat’ is a great description of how businesses can treat customers and potential customers. Just like you did, people see right through their sales efforts as being scripted, insincere and fake. Certainly does not lead to sales, repeat business or positive word of mouth referrals.

    I have similar experiences with sales people (over the phone and in person) who do not listen to what you are saying and simply continue with their sales pitch. For example, I may reply to a publicist that I actually provide public relations services and therefore am not interested in what they are selling. Instead of politely ending the conversation or asking further questions, they might reply with, “Great, then you will understand the importance of a good publicist. I have extensive experience and would love to meet with you to discuss how I could help your clients.”

    By contrast, do you think you would be more likely to spend more time in the clothing store and potentially spend more money if the service was personal, polite and thoughtful?

  3. Roulla Yiacoumi

    How funny, I had my own Pretty Woman moment just a few weeks ago!
    I am quite happy to share this story because it upset me so much. I was at the Royal Easter Show with my sister and baby when I happened upon the Pratten stand in the Fashion Pavillion. Pratten makes wallets and handbags.
    While looking at one of their wallets and holding my baby at the same time, my baby picked up a $20 coin purse and was holding it. Not eating it, licking it, demolishing it – just holding it, like you or I would hold it to look at it.
    My sister came up behind me while I was looking and asked for something I had in my back pocket. As I put my hand in my back pocket to take it out and hand it to her, the lady behind the Pratten stand snatched the little coin purse out of my son’s hand and said “I’ll take that, thank you very much.” After I finished handing my sister the paper from my back pocket, I turned back to the lady behind the stand and said to my son loudly so she could hear “Please don’t touch anything here, they treat you like a criminal”.
    The Pratten lady looked and me and said “I’m very sorry, but our stuff is VERY EXPENSIVE” (my Pretty Woman moment). “Yes,” I said, “I have bought several of your items over the years.”
    She continued: “We lose thousands of dollars worth of stock every year because of children touching our goods.” HELLO, I felt like saying, you are at the GODDAM EASTER SHOW.
    Anyway, on and on she went about the evils of anyone laying a finger on their precious wallets when I said, “You know what, I think I’ll take my business elsewhere.”
    To which she responded: “Yes, please do.”
    I was so stunned someone in business could be that thoughtless and rude. My sister and I have bought many of their goods over the years but no more. And I Tweeted it. And Facebooked it. Suddenly, at least another 20 people had bad feelings about Pratten. Who will then tell other people. And on and on.
    You simply cannot afford to be that rude when in business. You never know where your next customer is coming from (or not).
    I will be writing to Pratten and to The Royal Agricultural Society to express my unhappiness.

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