My two sons and I head to Sears at the mall to buy a filter for my Hepa air filter machine. It´s funny how little tiny decisions can make such a big difference down the road. The Big Guy said, "Hey Dad, can we go by the game store? We won´t buy anything, we just want to look."
There´s a small voice saying something to me in the back of my head, but I ignore it. I´m thinking that my kids have been well-behaved lately, did well on their most recent report cards, and did only a little grumbling when I asked them to help me in the yard this morning. So, I say, "Okay, we´re just going to look!"Fifty-five dollars later we emerge from the game store. But I don´t really mind, it came out of their allowances. Plus the staff in the store was friendly and helpful.
The Scamp says he´s hungry so we head to the California Pizza Kitchen for lunch. We all like the pizza, although I think the beer I had was way overpriced. But the service is very good and I write a note to that effect on the receipt. So far I´ve received great customer service at both the game store and CPK, but if I´d just listened to that voice in my head"?¦
As we´re walking back to Sears, I see an Apple Store. I´ve recently bought the 30GB iPod and need a holster for it. We go in, I drop the kids near an open computer and start looking around. I can´t find what I need so I look for help. I see a large screen with people´s names on it, and I figure out that I have to log on to get in the service line. I start to key in my name then stop when it asks for my e-mail address. Oh no you don´t, Apple! I just want one question answered. I´m not opening myself to countless e-mails from you.
Looking around, it appears that one, perhaps two people are helping customers, but I´m not sure because they´re even more casually dressed than I am (and I´m wearing a t-shirt and shorts). Nor are they wearing nametags.
In a recent post I wrote about how selling class rings could lead to bigger purchases. The Apple Store had the same opportunity to wrap me in a customer service experience that would bring me back when I was ready to buy my next computer. But asking a question was too cumbersome, and their employees were not easily identifiable.
Apple wants to sell computers and iPods now. But creating a positive experience around buying a $30 holster now can lead to a computer sale or iPods for the Big Guy and the Scamp later. If a customer walks into your store and isn´t interested in buying a major item now, get the relationship off on the right foot so that you can make the sale later.
We left. Thirty minutes later I was at my favorite Radio Shack where I bought a holster after being immediately greeted by a smiling salesperson. You know, they sell iPods and computers, too.
"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."