It happens every day, especially before Christmas.
Customers stand in line waiting to pay, as the cashier organizes his life, the life of his colleague, or even that of another customer who’s asleep at the proverbial wheel.
My advice to retailers: Take my money and let me run!
I’ll be more satisfied, and you’ll make more money — not just in the long-term, but in the immediate term, too.
Decades ago, my brothers and I would call all those friends eager to make a few extra bucks at Christmas to help out at my father’s wine and spirits retail shop.
My father, now a retired attorney and entrepreneur extraordinnaire, started The Wine Cellar from scratch in the 1960’s, and by the mid-70’s it was the largest wine and spirits store in a 40-kilometer radius.
Leading up to Christmas, the place would always be swamped with shoppers. The parking lot would be swamped. The street out front would be jammed.
My father would continually remind us. “Our job is to get the customers out of here as fast as possible.”
Is my father not customer-focused?
Therein lies the paradox. He is among the most customer-focused entrepreneurs I’ve ever known.
“It’s Christmas Eve. Everybody’s in a hurry,” he would often say.
Then he’d point to the parking lot and the traffic. “And so are they. Some of them are trying to get in here, and the rest are trying to get somewhere else.
“Our job today is to help them get in and out of here smoothly. Help them get what they want, pay for it, and get it out to the car.”
Then he himself wouldn’t miss a beat. He’d walk up to a customer and smile, “What can I help you with today, young man?”
We were never pushy. We put customer service first. While the store had a “crowded and hectic” buzz about it, it also had vibe of “swift and efficient.”
A by-product of this was that the cash register continually rang. Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching, ka… for 14 hours straight!
Think about it.
If your sales window is finite and your “Rate of Ka-Ching” is 120 kph, you will generate significantly more revenue during that window than if your Rate of Ka-Ching is 80 kph. Fifty percent more!!!
Now as customers today, we often stand in line and watch as clerks look for scissors, check inventories, stop and ponder the most standard of customer questions as though they couldn’t have anticipated them.
“Will you get delivery of this in large before Christmas?” can back up the cashier for five minutes.
That’s five minutes of non-ka-ching!
I’ve actually leaned around frustrated customers in front of me and said to oblivious store managers, “Please, take my money!”
I understand, Mr. or Ms. Retailer, that you need to take care of another customer’s enquiry, so… hire somebody to do that! Pass enquiries on to a re-deployed fitting room assistant, and train your cashiers to swiftly (and cordially) take the money from the customer who wants to give it to you and get on to the next!
This extends to a lot of businesses, but I’ll stay with retail for a moment. I was in a pub a few weeks ago watching a band perform. By my calculation, this pub had a three-hour window of opportunity, a “three-hour ka-ching window.”
Imagine! Thirsty customers would approach the bar and wait an average of 10 minutes to get served. There were only two bartenders who didn’t have a clue about swift (or cordial) service.
One patron among a party of six let the bartender know this, although it didn’t help him get served any faster. He was neither a satisfied customer, a frequently served customer, nor a high-spending customer. Although he could’ve been.
I kept my on his table. Over the next two hours, they ordered only one more round. They’d occasionally look at the bar, shrug their shoulders, delay their next purchase and go on talking.
Retailers, are you missing the plot?
A customer who is served swiftly is a customer who is satisfied. And meanwhile, ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching…
Take the money and (let the customer) run!
This applies in the B2B world, as well. Some periods are high-volume windows. You will not disappoint customers by helping them transact!
At the Wine Cellar, we kept customers happy, among other things, by making their shopping experience swift in those high-traffic periods. We weren’t pushy.
They wanted to buy and, quite simply, it was our job to satisfy them. Ka-ching…
– Are there high-volume windows in B2B businesses you’ve observed, where Rate of Ka-Ching is not maximized?
– What are your thoughts on customers in a hurry?
– Leave a comment here. I’d love to hear your point-of-view!
Photo by Peter Hilton. http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterhilton/357995293/sizes/z/in/photostream/