Who knew a 1″ bulb could become such a great marketing and customer service lesson? After trying to deal with Best Buy for a month about a warranty issue I got so mad I gave up and discovered a wonderful locally owned shop that replaced my projector bulb and had me on my way in under 1/2 hour. You can read the long version of this saga on my Lifestylist® page -it still amazes me how I was treated by a company that should care more about it’s customers than Best Buy seems to.
Then today when I was getting all of my facts checked I went to the Best Buy Facebook page so I could quote other unhappy customers, and one of them had linked to a Forbes article about “Why Best Buy Is Going Out of Business Gradually“. They linked to a follow-up story that talked about how Best Buy handled different issues “The People Vs Best Buy Round Two” Sadly, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one that feels this way and they have even given lousy customer service to Larry Downes, a professor and best selling author.
I’ll never get back the time I’ve wasted on this, but I’m hoping that by sharing these experiences I can help my readers not make the same purchasing mistakes.
One of the good and bad things about social media is that consumers now have a way to have their voice heard.
When Hartford Insurance decided to raise my rate by over $13,000 without notice or even an increase in benefits I immediately went to their Facebook page to see what other consumers thought of them. It turns out I’m not alone – the stories of how they have treated other consumers is pretty chilling. The stock answer they post to everyone is “To protect the privacy of individuals, we do not respond to service questions on Facebook. We would like to know about your experience. Could you please contact our Consumer Affairs team at 1-800-451-6944? Thank you.” When I contacted their “consumer affairs” team I found out they didn’t care. I was told this ridiculous increase was because I’m an interior designer – who knew sketching and wielding a glue gun could be so hazardous?
Fortunately for me I found a great insurance company that took the time to understand my company and my needs, and not only did we get much more comprehensive insurance – it was also in line with what we had been paying.
I thought this was the end of story, but today I got my third notice from Hartford threatening to cancel my insurance! I guess the Consumer Affairs “team” didn’t get the message when I said I was done with them.
The moral of this story? Insurance is too important of a decision to take lightly and only shop by price. It’s critical that you find an agent who takes the time to understand your needs and will be there if you ever need them.
One of the questions I always get asked is exactly what is a Lifestylist®, and what is unique about the Lifestylist® Lifestyle. The second most asked question is what makes me a Trailer Diva!
The Lifestylist philosophy is about “Life Celebrating Style”. Our clients life and style is what dictates how a Lifestylist® works with you. My favorite example is I had a client in Phoenix, Arizona that was a major Phoenix Suns fan, and their team colors are orange and purple. The client wanted their entire home done in these colors. What they wanted is what they got, complete with a child’s room with a hardwood floor striped like a basketball court. They wanted to stylishly celebrate their interests and love of their home team and we did!
I just spoke to a friend who’s dog just dug up their entire garden and her daughter slammed the door on the neighbor’s hand – all in about 30 minutes time. Her needs and lifestyle are completely different from my son – no kids, no dogs, and lives in front of his computer. What my style is wouldn’t work well for either of them which is why I need to understand the client and what their “hot buttons” are. It’s takes extra time and sleuthing to achieve this – many times the client has trouble putting into words exactly what they are looking for but they know it when they see it. I take the responsibility very seriously – a person’s environment can truly change their lives in a positive or negative way. If someone is happy in their home their quality of life improves.
Next to being a mother, becoming a Lifestylist® is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’m looking forward to expanding the concept and what it offers in the years to come. – we will be launching a new food line this Spring!
Just when you think you have heard it all – I received an over 500% increase on my insurance rate with Hartford Insurance even though I have never filed a claim and there was no increase to my benefits! What’s next – they provide insurance to the AARP – are they going to consider aging a high risk proposition as well?
They want to increase my rate by over $10,000 for no reason other than they can. This is money that could be used to help the worthwhile non-profits we are involved in like Animal Rescue Corps , HomeAid and Genesis Womens Shelter.
I just spoke with Louise Dunne, Assistant Director of Business Compliance with Hartford. She did not want to go on record or have me use her name, but she said that “my business had performed well with them” and the problem wasn’t me, it was that I’m classified as a designer. What she shared was really disappointing as far as how Hartford views the design community, and she made it clear that they don’t really understand what our industry is about or what we do.
Unlike Hartford, Met Life has chosen to embrace the design community and has been very supportive of The National Association of Home Builders, The National Sales and Marketing Council, the 50+ Housing Council and has also been a major sponsor of The Nationals – the competition that recognizes design and marketing excellence in the home building industry. Guess who I’ll be giving my business to?
Lesson learned? Do business with an agent and an insurance company that you have a relationship with so they will take the time to understand you and your business. Saving a few dollars up front is not worth the headaches and frustration that can come with those savings down the road.
Daisy loves the Lifestylist® philosophy of Life Celebrating Style. She is also open to any excuse to wear her favorite hats and attract attention. Mardi Gras Greetings from Daisy the diva dog and the Lifestylist® family!
Seth Godin is my guru. He is so no nonsense but funny at times, intellectual but down to earth, and what I really love about him is that he can get a point across faster than anyone else I know. His Purple Cow book started me on a new road to being more involved in marketing and social media so I’m forever grateful. When I worked on the Purple Cow House Campaign with Patriot Homes I made sure to get permission from Mr. Godin, and we credited him for the phrase (and gave out his Purple Cow Book).
Today I got a great post from him titled “Simple Thoughts About Fair Use“. So timely, and as always so well written. In this new blogging, social world I’m always stunned to see how many people are using other people’s photography, ads, brands, and stories without permission. This article is a must read for anyone who is even thinking about posting on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog and using someones text or images.
I’m fortunate enough to have access to a very talented photographer – Lisa Stewart of Lisa Stewart Photography. The images you see in my blogs, on my Lifestylist Design Facebook page and on my website have been shot specifically for my use. I do that so I’m not using other people’s work and having copyright infringements.
Lifestylist® is a term that I successfully trademarked in 2002 – my registration number is 2583235. I’m very proud of this because I thought I had a good idea and made the extra effort do “do the right thing” and spend the time, effort, and money to trademark it. You would be amazed at how much time I’ve had to spend since them protecting my mark because people haven’t bothered to do their homework and see that it’s trademarked before they use it in their own businesses.
Before you decide that you have discovered the next great phrase, or “borrow” a photo from someone else be sure to read Seth’s post. Wondering where to learn more about these topics? The US Patent and Trademark Office has a great site, and it is also where you can search trademark registrations and applications.
Happy New Year from the Lifestylist® family! We are really excited about 2012 and the opportunities that will come with it.
A lot of being a Lifestylist® is about being a trend tracker and doing research. Today I read something that was written by someone else titled “Social Media Lifestylist Guidelines for 2012” – boy does that sound dull! The first thing that comes to mind is a big dusty manual full of rules and regulations, and that is exactly what social media (and being a Lifestylist®) is not about.
The tag line I have always used for my Lifestylist® brand is “It’s All About You”. I didn’t want the brand to be about me telling people what to do – I wanted to listen to people’s wants, needs, and dreams, and help them achieve those even when they didn’t know that’s what they were really searching for. I don’t want to dictate, I want to educate. I’ve learned that listening is so much more important than anything I will ever have to say, because sometimes if you let people express their thoughts they will find their answers.
Social media is such an exciting new frontier because it gives everyone the chance to tell their story to the universe. It’s become a great equalizer because almost anyone on any budget can get access to a computer and a free site and share their thoughts.
There’s a down side to this though as well -there’s not as much editing as we’ve seen in the past. We have to learn that even though someone may have written it, there is the possibility it might not be true. Before we share or depend on information we find we have to be sure and check the facts. As the guardian of the Lifestylist® trademark for almost 10 years now I’ve seen how many people want to tie into my brand but aren’t willing to go through the legal process to acquire a brand of their own.
So what are the real Lifestylist’s guidelines for 2012? Never call them guidelines, live your life to the fullest, listen to those around you and you can never laugh too much or have too much great food and wine!
Here’s to a boisterous 2012!
The holidays this year were truly magical – I was able to introduce my new grandson to the magic of Christmas. As part of that we took him to the mall to get his picture taken with Santa, and not only did we get a photo, but I also was reminded of some major mistakes we sometimes make when marketing and merchandising our homes. If you would like a copy of the entire article, feel free to email me at: email@example.com
Here are 5 things I learned this year from visiting with Santa:
1. Presentation isn’t Everything. This Santa display was one of the most amazing I have ever seen, but most of it had nothing to do with why we were all there – to see Santa. You need to have a total package, and the lifestyle that is shown in your models, community and marketing needs to be what they will really experience in your homes. You can spend a fortune creating your presentation, but if it isn’t targeted to your buyer you are just throwing your marketing budget away.
2. Never Say No. No one likes to be told what they can’t have, and there are ways to avoid having to say no to your customers. I understood that Santa was a business, and I would have been happy to pay a fee so I could shoot my own photos that would have been fair to all involved. Customers appreciate it when you try to come up with a fair compromise, and they then feel like you are working with them, not against them.
3. Let Me Entertain You. Interactive presentations, or having different ways to have your customers really experience your homes is a great way to create memory points. One of my favorites was doing up a line drawing of the builder’s home that the customer’s kids could color and take with them. Having your home and information on a potential customer’s fridge? Priceless. What you don’t want to do is overwhelm the customer with loud music, a pushy salesperson, or too many choices. They come to your sales center because they want to buy a home and they want you to educate them on why their new home should be one of yours.
4. Less Can Be More. Putting everything including the kitchen sink into your model homes can talk a customer out of buying a home from you. Over merchandised homes, or homes that have dated, damaged furniture and accessories in them turn a customer off. You are better off doing a well merchandised home that plays up your homes features and only merchandising a few key areas than just filling a model home with “stuff” from the warehouse.
5. Building the Dream. Just like visiting Santa for the first time, buying a home should be an exciting time for your buyers. If you and your sales team aren’t excited about selling them a new home, how do you expect the buyer to get excited? Make the buying experience a positive one, and not only will your customers buy from you, they will refer their friends to you as well.