Written By:Adam Dince
Retailers spend a significant portion of their marketing budgets on social CRM. Gartner Research predicts that by 2013, spending on social CRM will exceed $1 billion worldwide http://goo.gl/VmEHx. However, I wonder if retailers are as committed to their customers while in store as they are when engaging through social media channels.
According to SatMetrix:
“Based on survey responses from more than 22,000 U.S. consumers nationwide, the study found that bad customer experience forced 22 percent of consumers to stop doing business with a provider during the second half of 2010.”
“Factors that have an immediate impact on the customer’s personal experience with a company were the primary reasons consumers gave for defecting. Interacting with a rude or disinterested employee was cited most frequently (34 percent)”
This weekend, I went to my local Kohl’s department store looking for a new pair of sunglasses. After a few passes around the massive sales floor, I came up empty-handed. Being a guy, I’m reluctant to ask for help—or directions for that matter. However I decided to approach an employee who was standing behind the jewelry counter. I politely asked, “Excuse me, where might I find the men’s sunglasses?” She replied, “over there” and pointed to where she thought they were. I responded back, “I was over in that area and all I saw were women’s sunglasses”. She said with a touch of frustration, “Well, they’re over there”. I thought, “Okay, maybe I’m rushing and missed them in my haste”. So, I walked back over and spent some time taking a second look… again, no men’s sunglasses. In fact, all of the sunglass display cases were labeled as “Misses”, so I know I wasn’t being over masculine in my taste.
As I walked back empty-handed towards the employee who had misdirected me, she didn’t bother to ask if I had found what I was looking for. Instead of asking again, I left the store and committed to never shop there again (which is a bummer because I really like Kohl’s and have spent alot of money there).
A few stores later, I found myself in Old Navy. I decided to purchase a few pairs of running shorts. The store was crawling with customers and the line to check-out was massive. When I peeked over to look at the cashier area, there were only two on staff. It was frustrating to see that there were 10 or so registers, yet only two clerks working. How could Old Navy staff its store with only two employees working the registers on a busy Saturday afternoon? I waited almost 45 minutes to get to the front of the line.
I’m not writing this post to complain or whine about my retail experiences this weekend, although it sure sounds that way. I’m merely trying to draw a contrast between the customer experience that I see brands pursuing online as opposed to the normal experience in-store. Retailers need to understand that “online” is just one medium of CRM. While digital outreach is vital to a retailer’s success, poor offline execution can kill the momentum of a successful online marketing strategy.
It seems that over the years, the quality of in store customer service has diminished significantly. While there are exceptions, I’ve noticed that the quality of people working the sales floor are eeyons behind where they were a decade or so ago. At 16, my first job was working for minimum wage in the men’s department at TJ Maxx. My coworkers and I were always busy re-hanging clothes that customers had left on the floor and in the dressing rooms. However, we always took time to stop and help customers find what they were looking for. We took pride in our jobs—and it was something that management demanded of us.
I hope that “we” the consumers make it a point to demand that retailers treat us with the same level of in-store customer experience as they do online via social. Attention retailers—while a 140 character apology or downloadable coupon is nice, hiring quality people to work in your stores is even better.
Just my humble opinion.