Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm Joe Consumer, please do NOT discount me!

Pssst....hey....hi....over here....yes, I'm talking to the retailer and service oriented businesses throughout the vast reaches of Recessionville. My name is Joe Consumer which is not to be confused with Jane or in some cases, John Consumer. Nope, Jane sends her love, wishes you well and hopes to see you soon, but she's very busy. Therefore, I've been entrusted with perusing the aisles, comparing your wares, and bringing home all things consumable.

I'm not trying to frighten, but to enlighten, so listen up as I'd like to help you and your business stay afloat in these troubled waters. What can I offer you ask? Who the heck am I? Does what I say really matter? I'm going to respond with an emphatic "YES". I'm Joe Consumer, hear me roar..... or at least listen to me offer bits of advice that may help your business.

Let me start by saying that I've been infiltrating your retail and service establishments for years. Unlike my father, I'm not just about shopping for cars, electronics and sports equipment. I actually....drum roll for groceries, toiletries, clothes and other household supplies. In fact, unlike my grandfather, I probably know how to cook, clean, and wash clothes (all at least to a certain extent). I don't mean any disrespect to previous generations......traditional roles have dramatically evolved in recent years requiring everyone to broaden his/her knowledge and skills.

So do you know who I am? I think you've seen me around. I'm the guy cruising the produce aisle at Safeway comparing Fiji to Roma apples or wandering through the kids department at Target deciding if my 4 year-old girl should have a size 5T or 5 in crop pants. I'm making hundreds of household buying decisions every year deciding who gets a share of the ever decreasing discretionary dollar, so please do NOT discount me....listen to what I have to say! Jane isn't going to be able to bail you out! These are my suggestions.

  • Teach your employees to know the product(s). Best Buy over any other big-box electronic retailer hires and trains employees to know their product and talk to you at a level you can understand from novice to expert.
  • Friendly customer service representatives - Starbucks rarely fails to meet my expectations of at least a kind greeting before I order my Nonfat Latte.
  • Be Consistent - Each and every time I walk into Safeway or Target, I know that I'm going to get a clean store, fair prices and good customer service.
  • Blow me away - no do NOT shoot something positive that I don't expect like additional interesting facts about a product, a discount or a piece of gum.

Things to avoid.

  • Don't insult my intelligence or talk down to me.
  • Don't be pushy or try to "up sell"
  • Leave me alone, I'll come to you when I have further questions or make a decision.
  • Clutter....Clutter....Clutter...I can't stand clutter (except in my own home, of course, as I'm used to it).

Here are things that I can not understand in general. Perhaps this is a universal problem and not unique to my neck of the woods.

  • Why do sales people follow me around? This is especially true at Furniture Stores. It's CREEPY with a capital "C"
  • Haven't electronic and automobile sellers learned by now that we will decide when we want to buy extended warranties...(side note-I've spoken with repairmen on this issue and they've said that they personally will buy the extended warranty if it's a new model from an existing company or a new technology from any manufacturer less than 5 years old).
  • When a restaurant advertises in the newspaper....why not give me a coupon...I probably know that lunches start at $5.95.
  • Why are casinos so smokey? In California, less than 25% of the population smokes, but the non-smokers are usually given a tiny room off to the side...don't they know that if they provided larger non-smoking areas, perhaps we non-smokers would be more likely to show up?....and we have more $ because we don't spend $ on cigarettes...duh!
  • Movie theaters? May if they sold a small drink for $1.50 instead of $4.25, they'd sell 3x as many? Do the math.
  • Sports arenas - The Sacramento Kings are averaging between 10K and 11K fans per game (capacity is around 17k)...why not start heavily discounting or giving away tickets, at least they'd get $ for parking, food and maybe souvenirs...........

OK, Joe has said his peace...any questions? Please comment and I'll answer.


Seriously Mama said...

All I have to add is BRAVO!! Fantastic post, fantastic observations!

cw2smom said...

Great entry! I think we will see some vast improvement in customer service as a result of this horrific economy! You've made some great observations and I recommend sending this to the editor of your local newspaper so that the businesses can read it and learn. (BTW...I thought I was following your blog and was surprised to find today that I wasn't! So..I've fixed that and am glad to be here!) Blessings, Lisa

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