I’m going to date myself with this story so just stay with me for a few minutes.
It was November of 1986 and I needed to pick up another suit. The Hudson’s Bay store was having a sale so I went to the Southgate location and wandered around the suit section. I was a little surprised that I wasn’t accosted by a sales person, but I kind of liked the fact that they left me alone. After searching for about ten minutes I found a suit that I wanted to buy. I had tried it on, but I needed someone to do the measurements for the hemming. I started looking around for a sales person. And I looked. And I looked.
It was around this time that the Hudson’s Bay had switched to having four tills on each floor, one in each quadrant, and as I looked around I saw no one at the till in my quadrant but I saw two people at the till in the adjacent quadrant. The two individuals were talking and I stared at them. One of them looked over, saw me staring at them and then went back to talking to their friend, shifting their body slightly so as to put my in their peripheral vision. I was, to say the least, annoyed, so I put the suit back on the rack and left the store. That night I wrote a note to the manager, printed it off on my dot matrix printer at home (remember, it was 1986) and delivered it to the store the next day.
I described the events of the previous night and went on to say that I didn’t blame the staff, I blamed the training that they had gone on. The training should have emphasized the importance of the customer and that their success would be based on how happy the customer was. I then went on to state that I would never shop at the Southgate location again.
It’s been over thirty years and I have kept my promise. I have not shopped at that location since. Granted, I have shopped at other locations, but not that one. A number of years later and we were in The Bay at West Edmonton Mall and we were looking for some shoes for my wife that they had on sale. They didn’t have any in her size but offered to check the system to see if there were any in another Bay. There were. At the Southgate location. We never bought the shoes.
Research firms are busy promoting the fact that this is the “Age of the Customer”. But it has always been the Age of the Customer, only now the customer has so many more options. If your customer wants a leather sofa in taupe, give it to him because he can find it somewhere else at half the price. When Obamacare went live and crashed horribly, one of the biggest complaints against the system, and others like it that launched at the same time, was the fact that people had to register, just to look around. Don’t force people to register if they’re just browsing. You don’t do it in a store in the physical world, why do you need to do it online.
Some companies get this, but sadly, others don’t.
If your company is not doing as well as you think it should, take a look at how you treat the customers. Maybe your problem is self-made.