We just spent two days in Howell, Michigan, and spent an entire morning wandering around the Tangers outlet mall.
We were not expecting much in the way of customer service. Outlet malls are notorious for mediocre-to-poor service. The reason, of course, is that most customers are there for the prices, so retailers assume that service takes a back seat. Well, the stores we visited completely debunk that theory.
In every store, without exception, we were greeted instantly when walking in the stores. The salespeople were friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Many displayed skills that would be hard to find in the most upscale of retailers. We were absolutely blown away.
But here’s the interesting part: None of the four of us were really there as serious shoppers. We were just looking around, and had no intention of dragging a bunch of stuff back with us. In the end, we had collectively spent close to $800. Yes, the prices played a part, but the real story was the service. We bought most of the items because there were people there who genuinely cared about us.
We saw the same attitudes everywhere else in Howell – from restaurants to gas stations. The giveaway should have been when we hit the Michigan border. The US border person managed a terrific blend of thoroughness and cheerfulness. A stark contrast to the Canadian border guy who just seemed disgruntled.