We’ve all been there, in an electrical retail store buying a TV, DVD player, Hi Fi, or similar. Just when you’ve found the right product, in stock, at the right price, the pleasant sales person starts twitching and suddenly transforms into the Werewolf of insurance. Run for the hills.
Customer goals vs business goals
All you want to do is pay for the TV, have someone load it into your car, and away you go. So you have to wait for the Werewolf to take a breather in his well rehearsed drivel while the knot in your stomach gets tighter. When you get the opportunity to jump in with a quick, ‘No, it’s ok, I’ll take the risk’, he continues as if his newly enlarged pointed ears can’t process customer objections. It can get to a point where you would actually prefer not to buy the product and go elsewhere. What a shame.
Staff incentives move focus away from customer needs
Let’s look at this from the Werewolf’s perspective. They are well trained in the different products available, and they are also well trained and experienced in asking the right questions to understand the customer’s needs before making recommendations. The retailer will put a lot of effort into the retail customer experience to ensure customers return and, ultimately, choose this store to part with their cash. On top of all of this, the sales person is then told that at least 10% of their retail sales must come from selling insurance. Suddenly, all the previous training, and all the marketing that the retailer puts into ‘customer experience’, might as well be thrown to the wolves.
The issue here is that the customer receives a very good retail experience up to the point of selecting a product. The customer expectation at this point is to pay and have their new TV loaded into their car. At the point of choosing the TV, and being told that it is in stock, most people (if they are like me) are looking forward to getting home as quickly as possible to set the TV up in time for the football. This nice and happy thought is then rudely interrupted by the previously pleasant sales person, who now has large fangs, forcing an extended warranty down your throat.
I don’t mind being asked if I want to extend the warranty, and to be told that it can be extended any time in the first year, but when I inform him that I do not want an extended warranty (doesn’t my household insurance cover most of this anyway?) I expect the matter to be closed, and to return to my vision of my living room as a surround sound cinema complex!
Retailers are not listening
What’s worse is that this has been going on since I worked in a large electrical retailer, and that was 15 years ago, and people would have this same conversation then. What is the point of all the training and retail customer experience activity to only let the whole thing down at the end of the sales process? From a retailer’s perspective they will often still get the sale, so the lesson is not learnt and we all have to put up with this because it is the norm. Well, I’ve spoken to a couple of people recently who have decided to walk away as soon as the Werewolf refuses to listen to the objection to extended warranty. If we all did this do you think they might finally listen? Come on Mr Retailer, let us buy our goods and enjoy them, or I might have to resort to browsing in your store and buying online.
Are your staff incentives having a negative impact on your customer experience?
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About Damian Rees
Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees