The Opposite of Upselling

I was at Blockbuster the other day and handed my movie to the person behind the counter. She took the security tag off of the case, glanced at the movie, and then said, “This was terrible by the way.” and proceeded to finish checking me out.

I just stared. I couldn’t believe an employee of a major company that depended on a large amount of small value transactions to make any money was telling me the movie I was about to rent was terrible. She hadn’t sugarcoated her critique at all, either. She just told me quite plainly that the movie was terrible.

The woman obviously noticed my stare and then recovered slightly and said, “Is there anything else you want to rent?” I continued to stare, mainly because she had already taken the security tag off and scanned the movie. The checkout experience was essentially over and all I could think about was how terrible this woman’s customer service skills were and how bad the movie I was about to rent was going to be.

Needless to say, this isn’t the best way to upsell your customers or to encourage them to continue using your company. If the employee really thought the movie I was going to rent was that bad, she could have said a few other things:

  • “To be honest with you, I saw this movie and didn’t really like it. I did see [Random Movie], though, and really liked it. Do you want me to grab that one for you?”
  • “I’ve heard customers say they didn’t really enjoy this movie. [Random Movie] has been popular this week. I’m happy to get that for you instead if you’d prefer.”
  • “Have you seen this before?” (customer says no) “Okay. Because I saw it and it wasn’t exactly my favorite. Some of our more popular releases are along that wall if you want to maybe consider those instead.”

The alternative is to of course say nothing and let the customer rent his or her movie. However, if you are going to say something (or encourage your employees to provide their honest feedback without being asked), then have alternatives in mind. And if and when you’re going to suggest an alternative, do so quickly. The 10 or 15 second pause could easily result in a lost sale at worst and an awkward service experience at best.

One Response to “The Opposite of Upselling”

  1. Service Untitled» Blog Archive » Answering the “what do you recommend” question. said:

    Jun 22, 09 at 12:48 pm

    […] light of my recent post about my interesting experience at Blockbuster, I started thinking about situations in which employees of various companies might have an […]