Capitalize on the Retail Experience


Capitalize on the Retail Experience

When there’s more than one way to meet expectations, consistency is key

Jim Thomas

Sometimes, you can get away with customer service failures. I’ll forgive the retailer whose sales rep appears disinterested in my discussion about what makes the best television if I can get that television for a good price. Or, for those times when the old TV dies the week before the Super Bowl or the season’s final episode of (fill in your favorite series here), in-stock availability always wins over the not-so-nice sales rep.

It’s not the best retail experience, but it falls in line with my expectations. It also allows me to complain to family and friends: “You won’t believe this guy…” (As a bonus to anyone who listens, they get to share their “retail horror stories.” Just don’t one-up me.)

Habits die hard

I’ve been going to the same pizza shop for years. It’s affordable and, most of the time, the food and service are good. And after years of lunches and Friday night pizza orders, we’ve built a relationship. I know the owner, his family and many of the employees. That’s part of the experience that keeps me coming back. On those occasions in which the experience doesn’t meet my expectations, I might even make excuses for them: “Joe told me he had to pick up the tomatoes himself when the delivery didn’t show on time. He’s a good guy.”

Expecting the best

The five-star restaurant that I visit once a year gets judged by a completely different set of criteria. I remember how exceptional my last visit was — the friendliness of the staff, the quality of the food, the atmosphere, the menu selection, noise levels, etc. Price isn’t much of an issue, but if one of the smallest details doesn’t meet my expectations, I get concerned. (“Last year, I’m sure the towels in the restroom had a higher thread count. Maybe this place isn’t what it used to be.”)

The consistent experience

One of the challenges of any organization is, once you identify your business model (i.e., luxury- or value-focused), how does your team consistently meet the expectations of that model? Even the smallest misstep in service — or pricing in the value model — can push customers to seek alternatives.

This month’s issue of OM presents fresh ideas on how to take the retail experience in your practice to a new level. If you plan to shoot for the stars, commit to it with every action. Or, as one retail manager told me, “On your worst day, be better than everyone else.” OM