I’m there for the service

This may sound funny coming from me, a tech geek that suffers from serious ringxiety and is connected to the Internet 24×7, but I like physical stores better than I like virtual ones.  Of course, I’m not talking about convenience.  Or price.  Buying stuff in my pajamas during a snow day for a few bucks less than I would pay around town is always great.  Obviously.

Savings aside, something gets lost in that transaction.  It is the difference between shopping and purchasing.  I still have an affinity to be treated as a person and not account #189320. When I visit a store, or a restaurant or a veterinarian (ok, not me, my dog) I am actually looking for something beyond the goods or services that I’ve decided to purchase. I want the service.  As in… from a human being; a living, breathing, real, live human being.  Who wants me to be satisfied.

Now competing with online shopping, it shocks me that some retail companies still don’t get that.  How they can’t recognize that I can make my purchase online but that I have decided instead travel to and visit a real place with real human beings in order to receive “service” is baffling.  I recently had a couple of experiences that caught my attention.

One was at a restaurant where I was utterly ignored by the servers. My presence was not acknowledged for almost 20 minutes until someone finally asked if I was ordering from the menu or going for the buffet.  In their defense, I’ve not had much luck finding online buffets.  But I’m sure they’re coming.

Not too long after, I went to a huge book store where the salespeople just didn’t care about the people coming and going.  In and out.  In and out.  In and out.  Not so much as a simple “Can I help you”?

It shouldn’t get to a point, I don’t believe, where the “in-person” retail experience feels like you’re asking for a favour instead of paying for a service.  It was shocking. How do those people stay in business? I, for one, will never go back to those places.

We can now buy pretty much everything over the Internet. From groceries to ATV’s to cell phones. Restaurants are everywhere and “food” is not what I’m looking for when I go to one of them.

When I go anywhere I’m there for the service. If I go to a book store or to a restaurant it’s not because I can’t buy online or can’t cook my own food. It’s because I want to enjoy some good service provided by knowledgeable and friendly people. I want to feel special.

It was Dale Carnegie who said: “Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.” and boy, the world was not that competitive during his time.

What do you think about internet vs in-store shopping?  How do you entice customers to come to your store?


Posted on November 24, 2011, in 'We Get Retail' Business Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The brick and mortar stores are confused. This is not to defend their poor service but to explain why they act as they do. Many of them have established an online presence out of necessity. They don’t realize that just because the shopping is virtual that customers still want to be treated as people. This can be done on the web but not too many are doing it right. Doing business online is only the newest vehicle to deliver products. That’s all it is. You still must give good service. Part of that service is treating people with acknowledgement and respect. If the merechants don’t get that, they will drive customers away. In the meantime, they are not training their brick and mortar employees to properly handle custumers and to give good service. The old catch-22. There are stores out there that do give good service and the big boys who ignore this will be doing so at their own peril. And, if they don’t get it soon, they won’t have anyone working for them who will be capable of training those employees.

  2. All true.

    The only reason I go into a store is to have human interaction — help! — in addition to whatever I might buy. I don’t have to buy a thing, beyond gas and food. So the attitudes of those working in the store has a large effect on whether I do buy something and actually enjoy having done so.

    Retailers, many of them, fail to understand how essential good service has become. It is the only point of difference between bricks and clicks.

  3. Great post – so true! Customer service is one of the only points of difference between online and physical stores. The sooner business owners realise this and begin focusing on improving the service experience, the better! Well done.

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