How stores can offer better customer service and close another sale
How stores can offer a better customer service and close another sale. A great example of how the online offline experience should come together
The May bank holiday rolled around and as per usual the girlfriend wanted to go shopping. New job, new salary and increased spending power, plus a family birthday meant that a trip to Westfield Stratford, en route to Bow in East London was in order.
We parked the car and proceeded to Marks and Spencer where she purchased the requested pack of white sports socks for her step father, a birthday card and the dinner. But whilst we were standing queuing at the checkout, I looked at a large number of people waiting to purchase their goods whilst 3 of the 4 checkouts stood empty and unmanned.
Forever being the critique of superstores and supermarkets and always the most impatient person I know, I wondered why stores of this or in fact any size persist in leaving customers standing around in long queues without helping relieve them of their cash or their debit or credit card payments. In fact, I started to wonder why there are no pricing guns you can walk around the store with, scanning barcodes, which would allow me to simply total up my goods, insert my debit card and pay and leave, no queuing, no fuss and no frustration!
Now my marketing mind was ticking along, seeing an opportunity to improve the customer journey in every corner as we left and approached Zara.
Zara is one of my favourite stores, the clothes are priced well, so well that if you ruin something, you can simply discard it and go back for something else without too much fuss or anger at whatever you did to cause the damage, whereas if it was a designer piece… well we all know how that can feel!
However I digress, the girlfriend asked me to pick her clothes for her, I’m no Gok Wan but I do have an eye for style so I proceeded to pick up things full of summer colour and vibrancy, a pair of skinny ripped jeans (the look of horror on her face) and I even picked up a suede top and gillet at which point she nearly passed out.
As nice and tall and pretty as she is, her style is very much plain, simple and dark… sometimes a little colour in your life is a good thing, as she often tells me!!
After a session of trying the items out in the changing room, she returns quite happy with most of what I picked out, even going as far as to say the only reason she didn’t get the suede top was because it showed too much mid-rift.
We proceeded to the checkout and this is where I saw a massive failure but also a huge opportunity. During our grab of clothing items, something reminiscent of supermarket sweep for those that remember, my girlfriend had spotted some silver slip-on sandals (forever in flats for some reason) but they hadn’t had her size on display. Whilst paying for her goods, she asked the cashier if there was any chance that her size would be available in the stock room.
Being told that there was a chance they could be available and that she should simply ask a floor attendant and if they are available, skip straight back to the front of the queue and she could pay for them quickly. Whilst I appreciate the sentiment, I also thought that if I were queuing in that store, where you can easily be 50 people deep at all the counters, I’d be slightly infuriated if a number of people kept skipping to the front and paying for the odd garment or for footwear.
So I asked the cashier if she could not access the stock via the till or POS system. Surely it would make more sense to be able to search and pay for the item in situ, where the transaction can be fast and seamless, rather than risk infuriating queuing customers who if like me could simply put their choices down and walk out, because people are simply able to skip queuing again when items weren’t on display. For me, the better process would be to pay for everything, take your receipt to a set cash till where a customer service agent can retrieve your goods and send you happily on your way. You never know, people may be inclined to shop further if for example you had an ipad with the settings for your website only as we all know, once you are in the mood for shopping, that item you were deliberating about could easily become an additional purchase.
For me from Zara’s perspective, keep them spending rather than see even one customer leave.
by Paul Sullivan