Check any internet gun forum, and one of the most common threads will be complaints about the customer service in gun stores. “I went into Fred’s blast town and had to listen to some 19 year talk about being a Delta Navy Ranger Seal and how the Taurus is the best handgun for special operations.” Or the classic “I went into a gun store to buy a 1911 and they tried to sell me a 38 snubbie because the 1911 might be too much gun to handle.”
Can you imagine if other business tried this approach? You go to a hotel and check in: “hi, I’d like a room with a king sized bed please.”
“Well, you’re not very tall, so a king sized bed might be more bed than you can handle. We have rooms with a twin bed, that might be more your size.”
The jokes write themselves, and I’m sure you guys can come up with plenty other examples. The problem of course is that gun shops tend to hire gun enthusiasts and not people with good customer service backgrounds. That leads people working in shops to forget that fundamentally they’re not different from an Abercrombie employee in the mall or a hotel front desk clerk. It turns out that it’s generally pretty easy to teach people product knowledge, whether that product is used cars or insurance policies. It’s a lot harder to teach them people skills. But there’s a solution for that to, and it’s called “scripting.”
Newer readers to the blog may not know that before I was slinging pixels and lead, I was in the hotel business. I was manager in customer facing roles, and learned a lot about the topic of customer service. Some people in service roles have great people skills and require very little instruction. Other people don’t, and for those people the service industry invented scripting. Scripting is exactly what it sounds like: you train your people to have standard responses for the majority of interactions. All the way down to simple things like saying “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome” at the end of conversations, you can develop a script for most customer encounters. The level of detail in a script is dependent on how competent the employee is at dealing with people. Newbies and bridge trolls stay 100% to the script, experienced employees and people-people get leeway.
Honestly, more gun stores should hire this way. Don’t hire gun enthusiasts. Hire people with customer service backgrounds. Hire people who’ve worked in the service industry. If they like guns, great. If they’re ambivalent, fine. Product knowledge is easy.