When is 10 minutes not 10 minutes? The concept of time can mean different things to different people. What happens when that very concept gets in the way between a customer and a retail company?
Stay tuned for a story of confused communication, hurtful hearing and a missing moment of time.
This is the Customer Experience Storytime tale of…. The Time that Retail Forgot
Susan had her eye on a jean skirt. This wasn’t just any skirt, but one she had seen repeatedly at one of her favourite local clothing shops. Right there, on the clothing rack, she had slipped the denim fabric between her fingers, adoring the simplicity of the lines.
This skirt, or really, any jean skirt, had been on her wish list for a while. The sizes however were never on her side. Extra small, medium, large, extra large. Never small. Never her size. She’d asked before if there was anything being saved in the back. This never was a successful question.
After 2 or 3 times, she had come to the conclusion that this woman and jean relationship was not meant to be. A few weeks passed when she found her self back in the store, wandering through clothing racks, scanning the shelves, all in a search for that perfect item to complete her summer wardrobe.
And there it was. A lone denim skirt, hanging auspiciously on the rack.
Could it be her size? Would it be her size? She had to check, but really what were the odds. She slipped her fingers around the tag, flipped it over and saw something of a surprise. The label proudly stated: SMALL.
With a triumphant smirk, she whisked the skirt from it’s display and made her way to the fitting rooms.
Upon arriving to the change area, Susan quickly declared, “May I please try this skirt on? It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, but I want to make sure it fits.”
The staff member on fitting room duty stared at her for a moment, then succinctly declared, “unfortunately, we’re closed.”
Susan was puzzled. She immediately looked at her watch to note there was still 10 minutes until the store shut its doors.
“But I have 10 minutes,” noted Susan.
“Which means the fitting rooms are closed,” replaced the staff.
“I’ll be really quick. I just want to try one thing on.”
“Sorry, unfortunately we’re closed.”
Susan stood there for a moment, looking from the skirt to the attendant and back again. She knew if she put it back it wouldn’t likely be waiting for her the next time she was by, but the price tag was too steep to purchase on a whim.
“Look, I promise I’ll be so fast,” she said, pleading now more than she meant to.
“Unfortunately, we’re not able to let you in,” said the attendant, her voice monotone. “It’s 10 minutes until closing. You can come back tomorrow.”
But this time, Susan was determined. She had too much hope for this skirt to just walk away now.
“Could I speak to your manager?” – Susan
The staffer blinks.
Without moving, the she yells out, “Hey Linda. I have someone here who wants to try on a some clothing. Is that OK?”
Linda, from somewhere, yells back, “How many items does she have?”
The staff, “One!”
Linda, “We close in 10 minutes.”
The staff again, “I know”
Another moment passes before Linda bellows, “Yeah, that’s fine, but tell her she has to be quick!”
Still reeling from all the high volume banter, Susan slid her way into one of the change rooms.
After 3 minutes and 42 seconds, Susan emerged from a successful change.
Hurrying now, she rushed to the front counter to be greeted by the same fitting room staffer.
“Just that one thing for you today?” Asks the staff member
After a long pause, Susan says in her mind resigned to this experience….
And that ends the tale of…. The Time that Retail Forgot
Friend Filter: How is this Perceived by the Customer?
The customer experience is an emotional experience. So how did this retail space make Susan feel as someone they would want to keep as a customer… ?
In this case, Susan was certainly feeling that her time wasn’t valued. She’s literally standing there, taking the next step in buying a product and the business isn’t interested. To the point where they had to make a public showing of even considering to help her.
What Worked or Could Have Been Done Better
What’s the ONE thing you as a business can do differently?
Value your customers time!
There are at least two things to take away from this story.
First, if your hours are a set time, then fulfill that promise. If your hours are posted as 9-5, make sure you’re available at the moment 9am strikes and aim to close the doors not a second before 5pm. A relationship is built on trust, and your customers want to trust what you tell them.
Second, it’s OK to fudge a bit for the sake of your customers. Sure your hours are a set time but allowing a few moments more to be helpful to your customer will only build and strengthen a relationship. In this case, Susan wasn’t remembering the great last minute service she received, she’s telling everyone how the store couldn’t take a few minutes to let her buy from them.
Morale of the Story
Honesty pays. If you commit to something, like the hours your business operates, then show your customers you can be relied on.
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