My Guilty Little Customer Experience


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I have a public service announcement for all stores where shopping occurs. I’m a guy therefore I do not like shopping. Be nice to me, make your items easy to find and don’t do anything to make my experience uncomfortable. Christmas means that I must venture out of my bubble and frequent stores that I would otherwise never have reason to visit.

I made such a visit to a discount retail store the other night to look for toys for my kids. Lo and behold they had motorized Thomas The Train engines for $12.99! For those of you not in the market for this particular item, they are normally $25-30. Needless to say I snatched them right up.

When I approached the cash register, the cashier made an interesting comment. She said “My son loves these but they are just too expensive. I can’t afford them so we don’t buy them.” I proceeded to tell her what an amazing deal this was and that someone had given us a bunch of tracks. My attempt at validating my purchase did little to sway her opinion.

Allow me to share my inner dialog in that moment:

  • “Awkward!”
  • “Great! Now I feel guilty for buying these for my kids.”
  • “Should I pay for these and then give them to her son?”
  • “Does she make comments like this with all of her customers?”
  • “Would it be better if I didn’t purchase these trains?”
  • “Get me out of here quickly.”
  • “I’m not sure I ever want to shop there again.”

There were other thoughts but you get the gist. As customer service professionals there is no room for us to shed any negative light on the products we sell. I am currently reading through Shep Hyken’s “Amaze Every Customer Every Time,” in which he gives 52 tools for amazing customers. The first tool is to “Act and think like you own the place.”

How might this cashier have spoken with me had she been thinking and acting like an owner? I’m guessing I may have heard some of these phrases instead:

  • “Thank you so much for choosing to shop here during the holidays.”
  • “Were you able to find everything you needed?”
  • “These trains are so cool and for such a great price. Your kids are going to love them.”
  • “Merry Christmas!”

By thinking and acting like an owner, the cashier would have completely changed my shopping experience. I not only would have felt good about my purchase but would also have positive feelings about the store. That would increase the likelihood of returning next year for Christmas shopping.

Instead I was left with an experience eerily similar to this classic Saturday Night Live sketch. Does “Welcome to Teeeeerget” ring a bell? If not, enjoy the clip below. Oh and by the way, I also shopped at Target that evening and my cashier there was absolutely fantastic.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeremy Watkin
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Support and CX at NumberBarn. He has more than 20 years of experience as a contact center professional leading highly engaged customer service teams. Jeremy is frequently recognized as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working he's spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis.


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