Over the weekend I made a stop at a local music store to sell a used instrument. I’ve been playing music for over 15 years, so I usually love going to music stores. This time I couldn’t wait to leave.

Within 30 seconds of walking in the store I told one of the managers I wanted to sell an instrument I no longer use. We talked for a minute or two as she inspected it. We made a deal and she told her staff to make it happen.

Three minutes in and I thought I was done.

As soon as the store manager turned me over to her staff it took over 20 minutes to have a piece of paper filled out and copied in to their archaic system. I spoke with five different people and the money literally changed hands three times.

The sales person had to fill out a piece of paper, get two signatures and type the information in to a computer system to log the purchase. Not only was it manual it was a duplicative manual process. They weren’t sure how to do this, so they had to go find a large binder with sheets of notes.

Another salesperson tried to sell the instrument to me not realizing that I was in the process of selling it to them.

One person took the cash from the register then handed it to another person who walked 30 feet and handed it to another person who handed it to me.

Here are a few things we can learn from this experience:

  • Never make it difficult to do business with your customers.
  • Your processes, systems and tools should support your value not get in the way of value.
  • When dealing with customers give plenty of options for communication and support but always have a primary channel. Avoid confusing overlap.
  • Your secondary and tertiary revenue models impact your primary revenue source. Don’t neglect your other customer groups, channels or revenue streams.

Customer loyalty can only go so far. Perhaps next time I should just donate my used instruments.