We make life so difficult for customers…

Published by Timothy Reed on

It may seem far-fetched, but it’s the truth–life is really hard for people who want to buy a fireplace. 

Let me back back and explain: When a person first decides they want to buy a fireplace, they have no frame of reference. It’s not like buying a car or a dishwasher—a purchase they make every few years. In those cases, they have a general understanding of what they are looking for and what they should spend—this is completely foreign.

Most people start their journey at an industry website where they are greeted with rampant confusion.

Now, it might make sense to us, but our customers see:

  • Insider language (BTU’s, Direct-Vent Technology, Intermittent Pilot Ignition Systems)
  • Options that mean nothing to them (Gas Logs, Gas Insert, Gas Fireplace—what’s the difference?)
  • Phrases that make no sense (“*Insert brand name here*, where excellence and quality have created the most premium hearth products since 1979…”)
  • Big blocks of text that no one reads (We have all seen this on our website, no one reads those huge blocks of text)

The reason that we don’t see it is because every single one of us fights “the curse of knowledge*”. 

You see, on a scale of understanding, we are at the far end—we understand our products really well. The problem is that our customers don’t and often confuse them out of buying our products because we don’t speak their language. The problem is we don’t even know we are doing it.

It’s easy to critique other companies’ poor websites, but is your any different? How about the experience when a customer walks into your showroom? If your company is like most, your customers are confused by the entire process. 

Most companies put no time and thought into the customer experience in their showroom, resulting in a frustrating and confusing customer experience.

So how can you make sure not to confuse customers?

  • Make a list of “bad words” to avoid on the showroom floor (BTU’s, Intermittent Pilot Ignition System, Zero-Clearance etc…)
  • Ask questions at the low end of the understanding scale (Instead of “Do you want an insert or a built-in?”, say, “Oh, so you mentioned that there is a fireplace on the outside of your house. If you were to go into the backyard and look at it, is it made of bricks, or just sided like the rest of your house?”)
  • Go way slower than you think you have to (Remember what my friend Tim Rethlake says: “SLOW-IS-FAST”)

This will take time, because it’s been ingrained into us to operate the way that we have been, but these (bad) habits can be broken with practice. They is intentional, dedicated practice where your team works on their messaging. They will hate it and complain every step of the way, but the results will be staggering. If you could grow your sales by 40% next year simply by dedicating 30 minutes each week to practicing this–would you do it? I would hope so.

Imagine, customers saying to you, “thank you for making this so easy”, or, “I’ve been all over and finally someone understands me”. That story can be yours if you fight the curse of knowledge and take control of your business. It’s up to you, but trust me, your customers (and your wallet) will thank you. 


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*Lee LeFever – The Art of Explanation

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