retail management

Retail management: Educate the Idiots

Retail management is tougher than customers think. Having said that:

“You’ve got to educate the idiots.”

That’s what a business owner told me when I asked about his independent vintage clothing shop. His struggle in retail management: keeping customers out of malls and big-box retailers, patronizing his shop instead. If they bought from him, they could shop local! Have an authentic experience! Defy the homogenization of culture! And several other buzzwords!

Unfortunately, he ignored what the experience HE engineered communicated:
-My wife and I visited the shop at 10 a.m., expecting it to keep “normal retail hours.” Instead, it opened at 11 a.m. During Christmas shopping season.
-… Except it didn’t, because he was late and didn’t open until 11:30 a.m.
-He didn’t apologize or smile.
-And he had pretty dusty merchandise. (At this point, we only saw negatives.)

Retail management should engineer customer experiences

Due to his role as a business owner, I doubt he saw what his actions communicated to his customers. Perhaps he thought enlightened consumers would forgive his tardiness and grumpiness due to being tired. (I’m guessing about him being tired, but he works in retail, so. …)

Regardless, my wife and I may be enlightened enough to visit him, but we won’t be returning.

May I make a radical claim? Businesses exist to serve customers. And it is much easier to find people willing to let you serve them if you treat them with respect.

Not as an idiot.

Now it’s your turn

So my challenge for you:
Go through your customer’s experience—all the “touchpoints” where they interact with you—physically walking through the experience if possible. At each touchpoint, ask yourself, “What am I communicating to my customer?”

Bonus points: Ask a friend or family member (spouse?) who doesn’t work in your organization to do the same thing. What can you improve to refine what you communicate?

I love helping organizations engineer exceptional customer experiences. Contact me for a free discovery session to investigate.