Two's a Queue

Retail, eCommerce, usability, customer experience, service, technology...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Talk is cheap

Last time I looked – well, read Retail Week - the retail industry was having a difficult and tough time at the moment. The current economic situation, government spending cuts, weird and wonderful weather, cotton prices - let alone last year’s online delivery meltdown with "The Snow". Retail can’t exactly afford to be luxuriating on its leather Chesterfield right being fed grapes by small but perfectly formed cherubs while consumers throw £10 notes at them as they walk on past. It’s tough times, no one disputes that.

This is not a situation which is going to change all that quickly, there are always things that can be done- retailers can implement better buying to drive down price, they can cut costs across their operations, they can focus on business change plans to adjust to the market, and for online retailers there is even more that you can do. All of it pretty much costs money, which no one has right now - cue catch 22 (if I was any good at PowerPoint I’d put in a  little diagram – but I’m not)

BUT if there is one thing I learned from my career in store retail it was that the key differentiator is very often in the basics. And you know what the basics don’t cost much. In fact most of the time they’re practically free. And you know what is always free? Talking.

In the space of three days I have encountered two prime examples of the lack of talking in online and offline retail.  A Yodel delivery guy managed to conduct an entire delivery transaction (including the signing of a HHT device) with NO WORDS WHATSOEVER on Saturday. I really wanted my Amazon books but I’d have liked them a lot better if he’d deigned to speak to me.

Today I went to Tesco on my way to work and again an entire transaction without the staff member even looking at me - let alone talking to me. When I looked at her expectantly waiting for the cost of my item to be imparted to me she indicated with her eyes towards the till display. *sigh*

Now technology is great –  but really an indication with the eyes towards the great and wonderful till display??! What next? The till says 'Hi' , apologises for your wait and comments on the inspired nature of your purchase? More to the point technology costs money, lots of money, talking to people doesn’t.

If I go to Waitrose and they have fancy quick shop terminals I’ll be impressed but it wouldn’t stop me going to Tesco who don't have them. You know what would - staff who don’t speak.


H said...

Of course there is always an exception to every rule. For me the exception to this rule is Addison Lee drivers. Don't speak to me at 2am. Thanks

H x

Anonymous said...

Could not agree more! Well said.

Anonymous said...

Top post. totally agree!

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