Generally most of us do not have high expectations when going into a retail store. Most of my experiences have been either a sales associate is standing over my shoulder being an irritant or you cannot find anyone. I have actually seen in a number of big box retailers sales associates looking down at the floor as they walk past you so as to not make eye contact. This is why I keep writing about the magic point of engagement with your customers. Having all the technology in the world does you no good if your employees are not motivated and educated with the right tools to delight the customer. I do want to tell you a story that cites the example of great customer engagement with the use of technology. Yes this is about Apple but not their store layout or POS.
My wife owns a retail store selling art, furniture and jewelry. She had been using Square on her iPhone for her customer transactions and now wanted an iPad with a stand she had seen around town. She runs down to the Apple Store first thing that morning and is greeted by a young sales associate who stepped up with his iPad in hand asking how he can help. My wife wanted to buy an iPad but also get one of those neat stands you could flip over for the customer using Square. Obviously he could sell her an iPad, but finding one of these stands and to the specifications my wife wanted was not something she really expected to get on this trip. You see she wanted a stand that was made of wood not plastic that would fit her store esthetic. This is where expectations come in to play. Her expectations of a young twenty something person would be to say “we don’t sell that here, debit or credit for the iPad?” No this is where this young man got on the internet with his handy dandy iPad, pulled up www.tinkeringmonkey.com and showed my wife exactly what she was looking for. She was ecstatic. He also invited her to sit in on a new owner’s of iPad class which was just starting. My wife left the Apple store within a total of thirty minutes “floating on a cloud!”
Expectations were greatly exceeded with the young man knowing where to find this wooden stand, sharing with her and showing the information on his tablet, but more importantly the authenticity of caring about finding a solution to my wife’s problem. How do you bottle this? The sales associate was motivated, educated and had the tools to solve this woman’s problem. So it is the difference between what you expect and what you get that creates that “wow” factor everyone is saying retailers need. It goes back to an earlier blog I recently wrote, Nothing new under the sun which talks about how retail is really a service business not a product business. This is customer-centric retailing!