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Musicians Friend Adopting Sweetwater Customer Service Protocals?


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I purchased the SDOTD Bogner Blue pedal (thanks, killerteddybear!) from MF a few weeks ago. Got a follow-up call from a pleasant employee today, eerily similar to my PITA, Sweetwater sales engineer’s M.O.  

Is the Sweetwater business model so successful that MF vies to emulate it?

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Does anyone welcome those calls or find them anything but a nuisance?  One is bad enough but can you freaking imagine if every business you purchased goods from pulled that shit?

"We just wanted to follow up on your recent asparagus purchase and hope the urine smell wasn't too overwhelming"

Edited by cynic
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I don't mind  a follow up call, but I've run into the occasional outfit that send multiple "how did we do" emails and surveys.
Once is fine; I usually bitch at them about the subsequent questioning.

You got my money. How did you do? You have to ask?

 

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3 hours ago, crunchee said:

I've gotten those calls too, the 'experience' reminds me of a clingy girlfriend.  If they're looking for positive feedback, that ain't how to get it, at least not from me.  <_<

I bet there are praise threads on this practice at the TGP or MyLP forums.

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I find Sweetwater annoying. I've never even bought something from them, just a free download. 

I told directly that since I live in Canada and shipping is a hassle,  I'll never buy from them.

Hopefully they won't call again. 

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12 hours ago, killerteddybear said:

I don't mind  a follow up call, but I've run into the occasional outfit that send multiple "how did we do" emails and surveys.
Once is fine; I usually bitch at them about the subsequent questioning.

You got my money. How did you do? You have to ask?

This time of year is a bear for me.  I have a spouse that can never seem to locate to UN-check the (grrrrrr) "Please send me ever marketing email you can ever come up with and please share my email address with every affiliate company you can associate with and have them do the same" button in the checkout window. 

She buys something online and it triggers a deluge of marketing emails: "how'd we do?," "get 50% off your next purchase," or the real butt-burner: "thank you for signing up for our emails."  

It'll take the next month to get them all stopped! 🤬

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15 hours ago, RobB said:

I purchased the SDOTD Bogner Blue pedal (thanks, killerteddybear!) from MF a few weeks ago. Got a follow-up call from a pleasant employee today, eerily similar to my PITA, Sweetwater sales engineer’s M.O.  

Is the Sweetwater business model so successful that MF vies to emulate it?

I guess you didn't work your card file either at GC. 

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34 minutes ago, MCChris said:

I guess you didn't work your card file either at GC. 

I kept it current, but never used it. I was too good at sales to bother. A regular Willy Loman, I wuz...

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9 minutes ago, RobB said:

I kept it current, but never used it. I was too good at sales to bother. A regular Willy Loman, I wuz...

Sheeeeeit, nugget. You were no Stan Elias. 

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12 hours ago, RobB said:

My first email from, "Brad-not-his-real-name", offered me buyers protection on the Bogner pedal. I actually replied, "no thanks", hoping he'll get the hint. 

Tell "Brad" if he doesn't stop emailing/calling, you'll kick 100% of his ass.

ETA:  Next time this happens, ask if Sweetwater/MF offers its customers protection from annoying follow-up phone calls and emails made by their "sales engineers."

Edited by Biz Prof
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The follow-up calls/emails are a nice (if annoying) gesture, I suppose, but it seems kind of silly when it's a few sets of strings or other small item.

"How are you liking your new gear?!"

"They're strings. They're fine."

Edited by Dana_V
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Pretty much every place now wants you to take a survey or something and they all send emails.  I haven't found it too bad (Sweetwater that is).  Maybe my guy just doesn't make the volume of calls that others do or I don't buy enough stuff!   I'm pretty certain though if you tell them you don't want the follow up calls etc., they'll honor that.  If it doesn't work, I've heard Chuck Surack say to email him directly about things if they aren't right.  

  

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One of my best friends was a sales rep at Sweetwater years ago, and that's where this info comes form.  Their sales reps do pretty damn well, and the vast bulk of the commission they make comes from returning customers.  All the old hands there have some whales who tens of thousands of bucks every now and again, but the real money is made off the customer that trickles in that $2k-$5k worth of sales each year every year.  You build a good stable of those, and you have pretty stable, easy income. The deal there is that if your sales engineer doesn't try to make contact with you at least once every three months, you're fair game for any other sales engineer.  It doesn't matter if you respond, it just matters that they made the effort. 

Since their bread and butter are returning customers, every sales engineer in there knows that anyone who has bought anything once is very likely to buy from them again.  They are just trying to make sure that sale doesn't go to someone new because you will definitely get poached if they don't. 

I don't really have a dog in the hunt.  I do occasionally get annoyed, but I get them making a living.  The guys there who hustle are doing a helluvalot better than your average GC sales rep.  And when things come up on occasion, I feel it's worth the occasional call or email.  For instance, I bought a demo Friedman Small Box that was DOA.  My guy paid to ship it back and sent me a brand spanking new one at the demo price for my trouble.  How to replace it wasn't even an argument.  I said, "Hey man, this thing doesn't work," and he said, "No worries, I'm emailing a label now.  Send it back, to us and I'll go ahead and get a new one in the mail for the demo price."

I'll put up with some spam for that kind of service after the sale. 

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The Sweetwater sales schtick so reminds me of what to expect at a car dealership.  I work at a school where we bought a LOT of gear the past two years, and they didn't get much of it with that approach.  It's grimy and I always feel the need for a shower afterwards.

 

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54 minutes ago, LucSulla said:

One of my best friends was a sales rep at Sweetwater years ago, and that's where this info comes form.  Their sales reps do pretty damn well, and the vast bulk of the commission they make comes from returning customers.  All the old hands there have some whales who tens of thousands of bucks every now and again, but the real money is made off the customer that trickles in that $2k-$5k worth of sales each year every year.  You build a good stable of those, and you have pretty stable, easy income. The deal there is that if your sales engineer doesn't try to make contact with you at least once every three months, you're fair game for any other sales engineer.  It doesn't matter if you respond, it just matters that they made the effort. 

Since their bread and butter are returning customers, every sales engineer in there knows that anyone who has bought anything once is very likely to buy from them again.  They are just trying to make sure that sale doesn't go to someone new because you will definitely get poached if they don't. 

I don't really have a dog in the hunt.  I do occasionally get annoyed, but I get them making a living.  The guys there who hustle are doing a helluvalot better than your average GC sales rep.  And when things come up on occasion, I feel it's worth the occasional call or email.  For instance, I bought a demo Friedman Small Box that was DOA.  My guy paid to ship it back and sent me a brand spanking new one at the demo price for my trouble.  How to replace it wasn't even an argument.  I said, "Hey man, this thing doesn't work," and he said, "No worries, I'm emailing a label now.  Send it back, to us and I'll go ahead and get a new one in the mail for the demo price."

I'll put up with some spam for that kind of service after the sale. 

I just have to +1 this one.  And the "sales engineers" know which side their bread is buttered on.  I sense, though, that the reps really do want happy  AND returning customers.  I've had "my guy" at Sweetwater for years.  He knows better than to follow-up call me on little stuff, but one follow-up call made a confirmed customer out of me long term:

So, I bought a pretty expensive recording interface and couldn't seen to get it working.  I couldn't tell if it was the hardware, software or what.  About that time he called me.  I explained what was up and he gave me the direct phone numbers to the tech support guys for both the hardware and software companies and told him to let him know if I got it resolved.  Short answer, nope.  Two days later he called me, I told him what was up and he asked me about my system configuration, processor, RAM, video, ports, etc. and then told me to sit tight for a hour.  45 minutes later a tech from Sweetwater called and told me he had a (more or less) copy of my computer hardware and a known working interface on his bench.  He did the remote control thing, drove my system, had me try stuff, the whole deal.  I felt a little vindicated that he was having a hard time telling if it was the hardware or software either.  Ultimately he said: "yep, it's the hardware.  Take your unit and put it back in the box.  I'm sending you the unit I'm looking at right now because we know it works.  There will be a return label in the box, slap it on your unit and we'll pick it up".  This was at about 4 PM.  The new one was on my front porch before 10AM the next day.  Two days later, my sales/rep/engineer called again just to make sure it was all ironed out.  To me, this was waaaay above and beyond. 

I went to Sweetwater once, in order to A/B two amps.  They had to pull one of them out of the warehouse and drag it up to the showroom.  But they set them up side by side and turned me loose for a while and let me make my choice.  In the end I got the one I wanted with them eating the sales tax, an "open box" discount and another bit off because they wouldn't have to ship it.   Everybody in the place (I was there for several hours just gawking around at everything) was super friendly and accommodating.  It only served to reinforce the impression that there was some genuineness in all of this.

MF may be doing it now, but I doubt they are as motivated.  Besides, Sweetwater has a big-ass stainless steel spiral slide going from the cube farm to the near-gourmet lunch room that I'm sure MF doesn't.  They just seem happier.

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53 minutes ago, tomteriffic said:

MF may be doing it now, but I doubt they are as motivated.  Besides, Sweetwater has a big-ass stainless steel spiral slide going from the cube farm to the near-gourmet lunch room that I'm sure MF doesn't.  They just seem happier.

My friend loved it; he just missed being on the road too much, which I get.  This is back when we were all in our 20s.   Fort Wayne was also a bit boring coming from Nashville. 

We all did recording industry management, and he did the tech side of the program.  He said the 12-week school all Sweetwater sales engineers have to go through and pass was more intense than our program was.  That was saying something because MTSU's program was actually really good back in the day, and he had some pretty serious professional experience even by that time back then. 

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To be clear:  I have no quarrel, generally speaking, with Sweetwater regarding their sincere interest in maintaining customer satisfaction.  I just don't see the need to pepper a customer with multiple emails/calls about their satisfaction with a $5 purchase of guitar picks. 

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My Sweetwater guy passed me off to an underling when it became apparent I was a cheapskate.  The new guy doesn't seem to be as capable as the original guy.

Their philosophy and demeanor extends from the Company founder.  His attitude and commitment to customer service flows down to the entire organization.

Philosophy aside, they are dealing with a similar choice we had when I was in banking years ago and that is 'on what basis will we elect to make our value proposition to the customer.'  All of these musical instrument retailers are selling more or less the same thing (as in the bank, we were buying and selling money). 

You have (generally speaking) two choices of how you present to the customer: 1. low cost provider, offering the commodity at the lowest price - the customer base in this environment is highly transactional; in other words, when making the next purchase they do not concern themselves with relationships or non-price value propositions and just buy from the cheapest source.  2. the value-added provider, offering the commodity at likely a higher price, but with additional value to the consumer. 

What we found through market research in banking (and applicable to other businesses) is that the relationship consumer that is interested in more than the cheapest price is also more likely to stick with a given provider if the transaction provides the perceived additional value.  The transactional customer shops every time as if it is the first time.

As others have said, Sweetwater absolutely provides additional value IF that's your thing.  Some of the more technical sales (e.g., recording equipment) can certainly present opportunities to provide consumers with additional value over the low cost provider.  Sweetwater (unlike, say MF) is, and has been, set up to provide this additional support - it is ingrained in the culture. 

If MF is attempting to ape this strategy, they're going to have to change their entire mode of operation - phone calls after the sale are just the tip of the iceberg.  My Sweetwater guy can get me the phone number of, for example, the Fender warranty rep in less than one minute, but he will also (has also) facilitate a warranty claim (Fender replaced a neck on-site (at Sweetwater) on a guitar bought from there). 

Edited by velorush
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The only thing I’ll say.  If you buy a $9 truss rod cover.    It will be a money loser after packing. Shipping overhead. Etc.   maybe they reach out to people who buy small dollar items. In hopes they will buy something else but yeah I’ve gotten those calls.  Nice enough but a little overkill. 

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