Retail Going Wrong

Small Detail – Big Consequence: How Retail Goes Wrong

Posted July 15, 2016 in Customer Experience, Living the Brand

Customer experience is an important component of success in every industry. To the retail industry however, customer experience touchpoints are especially critical as there are so many of them along the purchase journey.

Think about the process of shopping for new clothes. While you’re browsing, a customer service representative will approach you and offer their assistance. You politely decline and continue browsing. Once you find some items you’d like to try on, you proceed to the fitting area and encounter another employee who sets you up in a change room. After deciding on which articles to purchase, you proceed to the cash register and the third employee touchpoint.

So far, your experience shopping at the department store has been rather pleasant. You buy your new clothes and head home, excited about wearing the outfit the next day. It’s only when you arrive home – a 30 minute commute from the store – that the entire customer experience begins to unravel.

Small Detail – Big Consequence

It happens all the time. You get home and pull your new clothes out of the bag and realize: the cashier forgot to take the security tag off the new shirt you want to wear tomorrow. Regardless of the experience you had in the store, your overall experience is now potentially ruined.

None of your options result in a quick solution. You could try removing the tag yourself but we know how that ends: ink everywhere and the shirt in the garbage. You could turn around and head right back to the store to get the tag removed, which would allow you to wear the shirt. But that’s an extra hour of time you probably don’t have.

Most likely, you’ll end up taking the shirt back at a later date. The employee at the store will apologize and take the tag off but by this point, you’re significantly less enthused about your new purchase. For the cashier who forgot to take the security tag off, the action is small. But the consequences of the action – a poor experience and an unhappy customer – loom large.

A Poor Experience Can Be Saved

It doesn’t – and it shouldn’t – be this way. In business, things go wrong all the time. Just because an experience is imperfect doesn’t mean it’s ruined. The experience isn’t over the moment it gets bumped off-track. A customer’s evaluation of an experience is based on how they feel at the end of that experience.

Forgetting to remove the security tag for a customer can be forgiven, but only if the mistake is acknowledged and responded to accordingly. For this reason, retail brands should consider offering compensation when they make a mistake that impacts a customer’s experience.

There is precedent for this in the retail industry. The Retail Council of Canada’s Scanner Price Accuracy Code exists to “Provide the retail industry with a mechanism for consumer redress in scanner price accuracy cases.” Sounds reasonable – why shouldn’t customers have somewhere to turn when organizations don’t deliver the experience they say they will?

Retail organizations should follow the lead of the Scanner Price Accuracy Code as a way to turn negative experiences into positives ones. It benefits customers and, in the long run, it benefits the organization.

Have you thought about your entire customer experience? Do you compensate customers when you make an error that inconveniences them? If you’d like to discuss your organization’s options for improving the customer experience, let’s talk!

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