What Customers Think About Your Customer Service

Find out what customer service aspects are most and least important to your customers.
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Cassie Gasaway

Customers are the lifeblood of an archery shop. They buy products, spend time on the range, and refer their friends and family members. These things support and strengthen your business, which is why customer service is important to focus on.

We spoke to two bowhunting enthusiasts who rave about the experience and customer service they receive at their go-to archery shops.

Richard Cologie is a retired law enforcement officer from Ohio whos bowhunted for 42 years. Hes used a recurve, a compound and a crossbow, and he’s introduced his children to bowhunting. Hes been to several archery pro shops but remains loyal to Vance Outdoors in Hebron, Ohio. Once we started going there, their service and willingness to help kept us there,” he said.

Kevin Harlander is the director of community for First Lite, a hunting clothing and apparel company. He started bowhunting in 2009 and introduced his significant other to archery three seasons ago. He was born in Minnesota, moved to Oregon, and currently lives in Idaho. Hes been around the block” with archery shops and said Alpine Archery and Fly in La Grande, Oregon, is his favorite. Sometimes he drives 6 hours (300 miles) to have the owner, John Appleton, build him specialty items, like heavy arrows.

I work in the industry and understand the customer service side of things is huge,” he said. John has always been a guy that meets you where youre at. Whether youre a brand-new hunter or youve been doing it for 20 years, hes got a system in place to make sure you get the best setup available.”

Both guys shared what they love about their favorite archery shop, as well as what they didnt like about other locations. They also discussed how business owners can separate their shop from the competition.

Make sure you're listening to the customers' needs. Photo credit: Alpine Archery and Fly

Customer Service Successes


– The shop customizes each shopper’s experience and setup.

Both Cologie and Harlander ranked this as one of the most important elements of a positive interaction. They want a pro shop employee that tailors the equipment and experience to their unique, individual needs. For example, Cologie likes that he can bring in an older bow and have the technician help him repair it to good working order rather than being told to start with something new.


– The shop is accessible. It’s easy to get in and out with what you need.

Harlander said Alpine Archery and Fly has extended hours during the archery season and is open when he needs it to be. Therefore, there isn’t a lot of waiting or wasted time. “If you’re cordial with your request, there isn’t a lot of waiting time,” he said. “John is quick and gets things done because he works long hours.”


– Sales staff know what they’re talking about.

All customers want to work with someone genuine, knowledgeable, experienced and trustworthy. Cologie said it seems like everyone at Vance Outdoors is a bowhunter and can fully participate in the conversation. “I want to work with someone who hunts and can relate to hunting,” he said. “I’ve been to places where employees couldn’t answer my questions or faked their way through the conversation. I wasn’t impressed and never went back.”


– The shop eliminates barriers to entry and makes newcomers feel welcome.

Bowhunting is a challenging sport to break into alone. Harlander said Appleton does a great job at helping people of all ages and abilities get set up and feel comfortable shooting. Helping newcomers eliminate fear and overcome obstacles makes them feel like they belong.


– Customers know what to expect.

Cologie said the people at Vance Outdoors are open and honest about price, equipment strengths and weaknesses, and how long customers have to wait to work with a staff member. “Sometimes I’ll have to wait because they’re busy, but they have a good ticketing system in place so everyone knows where they stand as far as when they’ll be waited on,” he said. “You’re not walking around like you’re in a fog.”

Don't try to push a particular product. Suggest multiple options in the right category. Photo Credit: Vance Outdoors

Customer Service Turnoffs


– The salesperson oversells products.

Cologie and Harlander both hate it when someone tries to upsell them or push products they don’t want or need. Salespeople who care more about selling products than they do about making customers happy usually don’t succeed at either thing.


– Customers don’t feel welcome and acknowledged, or they feel belittled and talked down to.

Not giving customers the time or attention they need is a top concern for Harlander. “A lot of shops are a good ol’ boys club, and if you’re new, you’re not welcome, but John pushes that aside and opens the door to anyone and everyone,” he said. “He breaks things down (for newcomers) and teaches them how to be successful while instilling confidence.”


– A salesperson pushes or projects their preferences on customers.

It’s natural for employees to recommend products they like, but they shouldn’t push their own partialities on customers. Cologie appreciates when a sales associate suggests a few items, but he dislikes it when they corner him into one option. He says the folks at Vance Outdoors are good at listening and reacting to the customer’s needs.

Make sure the customer walks away feeling a personal connection with your shop and goes to the range or on a hunt with confidence. Photo Credit: Vance Outdoors

Set Yourself Apart

People can buy gear anywhere. To make your business stand out, you have to provide the best service and experience. Cologie said thats the deciding factor.

(Vance Outdoors) treats people good, and they treat them the same,” he said. If they didnt, I wouldnt go back. There are so many good pieces of gear you can get anywhere. It comes down to how youre treated. If I didnt enjoy being there, I would go elsewhere or shop online.”

Harlander suggested online retailers provide an online consultation with customers to give them a better shopping experience. And brick-and-mortar retailers can create similar opportunities for their customers concerned about COVID-19. Strive to connect with your customers in as many ways as possible.

The world has changed quite a bit,” he said. The people (and businesses) who adapt are the ones whosurvive.



Check In With Your Customers

Cologie and Harlander provided great insights into what most customers care about regarding customer service, but every shopper is different. Dont assume you know what your customers think. Instead, go straight to the source, ask them and carefully listen to their concerns and questions.

Another good tip is to consider how long customers stay in your shop after you finish helping them. Cologie and Harlander said theyre excited to visit their go-to shops, and they like hanging out there because they enjoy the staff and service so much. Observe your customers to see how they relate to and interact with the sales staff. Their body language can be very telling.

ATAs article How to Tell If New Customers Like Your Shop” outlines three methods to get honest, unbiased customer opinions. You can observe newcomers, have customers complete an anonymous survey or hire a secret shopper. Businesses can use one method — or all three — to better understand what customers think about their customer service, so they can make improvements.

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