The other night we had four shopping experiences:
A. Bath and body-type store
EMPLOYEE: Hi! Welcome! How are you! Good! Let me give you an excruciatingly detailed personal tour of all 20 square feet of our store. Lookie at all our summer stuff, we have lots of it! Do you need help? No? Okay! Ooh, that product is nice! Oh, and you’re touching another one! And now you’re walking to the other side, and I’m just going to follow a little behind you, all geisha-like but less quiet. By the way, there’s some summer stuff up there! And over there! Oooh, here, here, I see you looked at that lotion for 1/12 of a second but didn’t seem appropriately interested, so let me tell you how it smells SO GOOD! Oh, you’re not going to smell it? Here, let me uncap it for you and shove it under your nose. Oh, no? You don’t like that? Why not? Well, did you see we have lots of summer stuff? Because we do!
B. Small shoe store
EMPLOYEES: [Having private conversation.]
NICK: [Standing quietly a couple feet away, holding shoe, waiting to be noticed.]
EMPLOYEES: [Don’t care. Some guy named Jared is an asshole and that’s more important.]
NICK: Um… Can I try this on?
EMPLOYEE: Is it your size?
NICK: It’s the floor model… I didn’t really check…
EMPLOYEE: [BIG SIGH.] Let me see it. What size are you?
EMPLOYEE: [Checks floor model.] It’s a 10 but they run small anyway. Just try this one.
C. Apple Store
EMPLOYEE: Hi. You guys need help with anything?
ME: No, not at the moment.
EMPLOYEE: Okay. If you do need something, just let me know; I’ll be in this area.
ME: Cool, thanks.
[We look around for a while, don’t see what we want. Nick finds an employee.]
NICK: Hey, do you have any other options for iPhone 5 cases?
EMPLOYEE: What are you looking for?
ME: [Describes very specific case that I really have my heart set on.]
EMPLOYEE: Yeah, I’ve seen those, but we don’t carry them. I think it’s either Best Buy or Radio Shack that has them. Hang on a second. [Flags down co-worker, describes case I have my heart set on.]
CO-WORKER: Oh, right. Best Buy has those, they’re on a kiosk right in the middle of the store.
D. Best Buy
[No employee interaction whatsoever, with the exception of the check out transaction.]
Three of these four stores got my money the other night. Only one inspired my loyalty: The Apple Store. And even if they didn’t get my money this week, I guarantee you that over the course of the next year, they will be flush in the cash that my bank account hemorrhages every time I need some kind of new gizmo. I will go there, and gladly pay more, because I know that at The Apple Store, they take care of me.
Note to retail establishments everywhere: It’s customer service. Not sell-all-the-things service. Not self-service. Not a relationship therapy service.
It’s really not that damned hard.