Do The Bass Pro Brands Answer Their Telephones? - 01/06/2010

Does it frustrate you when a company won’t list an email address, but instead wants you to give up your email address on a form, so that “they” can get back to you? Have you ever called a company ready to buy one of their products and received a recording giving you a menu of options, and you hit #3 only to get another menu, and finally when you get to the person’s line you want, you are asked to leave voice mail? Earlier this week we decided to call the phone numbers given by one of world’s biggest boat builders – the Bass Pro Group which builds 8 brands of boats – to see what would happen.

Bass Pro Shops
This is the house that Johnny Morris built in 1984 which became the #1 tourist attraction in Missouri a few years later. The Bass Pro Group is now the largest boat builder in the world – but do they answer their phones?

Learning Curve on the Internet

The Internet has prompted many in the boating industry to rely more and more on software and programming to do what has traditionally been the role of the dealer/salesmen, helping to answer boaters’ questions personally and cultivate a relationship based on mutual trust. Sadly, we’re here to tell you that in all too many cases, the internet form or endless phone menu is what you find. Still more flabbergasting is that some boat builders don’t even put their phone number on their website. (This is a strong message, folks.)

Operator
Remember the good old days when we all used to complain about Ernestine? Things have gotten far worse at many companies.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Many companies are using the Internet and CRM service providers to change real people into just so many digits for their spreadsheets. By doing so they are removing the “people” factor from the sales process. The Internet has prompted many in the boating industry to ask customers to fill out forms on line, and then they send the boater an automatic e-mail thanking them for their “interest.” (And then SPAM the hell out of that email address.) Customers may or may not get a call back from someone in a few days.

Operator
Bass Pro Group believes in keeping it simple.

What has happened to the “people part” of the sales process? After all, people buy boats in person or at least by phone. Very few boats are sold by email alone as one might order some Polo shirts on line.

Operator
Bass Pro Group brands put their offers on the home page along witht their phone number.

The Great Phone Test

To find out how one of the world’s largest boat builders handled sales inquiries we started with a visit to Bass Pro Group’s Nitro bass boat brand…http://www.nitro.com.

The first thing we noticed was a large red “Buy Now” button in the center of the home page and a short list of shopping tools on the left side. When you click on any of the links you come to a clean, simple, easy to read page that tells you right off the bat that the price is the price. Well we like that, and our guess is that most consumers do, too.

Then we realized that they posted a phone number on nearly every web page, and they were easy to see, not hidden below the fold or in small type. OK, so we gave it a shot and called. Test number one, and after three rings we where speaking to a live person. After one question we realized that they were actually knowledgeable about the boats.

More Test Calls

So on to the next test, calling the numbers on the others sites, Tracker, Tahoe, Mako, Sun Tracker; same results each time, a helpful live person. Then we turned our attention to the “Buy Now” button. With this tool you can have the builder call you, just enter your name and phone number, then click the green arrow. We also like the fact that your email is NOT a required field.

We discovered that Bass Pro Group has its own team of Internet boat salesmen who are part of the “Boat Sales Connection” and they were handling calls from 8 am to 7 pm during the week and 9 am to 3 pm on Saturdays and were closed on Sundays.

And the Results...

In all we made seventeen direct calls and ten call-back requests via the “Buy Now” web tool. Most of the calls where made during business hours and a few in the evening. Out of the 17 calls we made, 14 were answered by a live (and knowledgeable person) before 6 rings – for an 83% success rating. We reached voice mail on three calls during business hours, but received a call back within forty minutes each time. When we scheduled a call-back, we received them within the specified hour.

What does all of this mean? To us it means that not only does Bass Pro Group know how to build boats, they also know that people buy them. It’s that simple.

Mako Nitro Sun Tracker Tracker Boats Tahoe
866-504-1551 Mako Direct 866-502-1942 Nitro Direct 866-502-1943
Sun Tracker Direct
866-502-1945 Tracker Boats Direct 866-504-1552 Tahoe Direct


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