Customer Service in Store Design

I was reading a post on QAQNA about how Tom is the bag man. When I first saw the title, I thought Tom was talking about people who bag your groceries for you and sometimes bring them out to your car (this is common is Florida and unheard of in New Jersey), but after reading, I realized Tom was talking about his role when he goes shopping with his wife and two teenage daughters.

Like many men, when Tom goes shopping with one or more women, he isn’t particularly interested in the pattern or material of the dress. He likely goes “Yep, that’s nice.” or something of the sort. Tom liked how at some stores there was a place for him to sit. Other stores took it a step further and even gave him an ESPN magazine to read. I’ve been in stores that do similar things and it makes a difference. It makes the shopping experience tolerable for “bag men” like Tom and I.

Why can’t more stores put a nice place to sit for guys who are shopping? On the flip side, other stores that are targeted towards men can provide a nice place for women to sit while their husbands or whoever look at suits, gadgets, or whatever.  A few chairs, a few magazines, and even a few bottles of water don’t cost that much. I imagine it’s well worth the cost of having the people comfortable and in the store longer. If a husband is comfortable and enjoying ESPN magazine, he is less likely to bug his wife to leave. That translates directly into business gains.

While this is more of a customer experience (as opposed to a customer service experience) thing, it’s definitely interesting and not outside of the bounds of what I talk about.

Customer service in store design (and as I have babbled about, design in general) is very important. I read that Nordstrom has wider shopping aisles so people don’t feel as crammed. They also do a host of other things that collectively make a big difference in the shopping experience. While people don’t notice these outright unless they are grossly exaggerated one way or another (I doubt many people go: Wow – this Nordstrom store has wider aisles than Macy’s, mom!), shoppers likely do subconsciously notice them and it makes the overall customer service experience better.

This doesn’t apply to just clothing stores, either. For example, in his interview with Service Untitled, Robert Stephens of Best Buy talked about how the company wanted to lower the counter height so people didn’t have to lift their computers. He also talked about how the company wanted to improve the experience so customers didn’t have to lift anything (not even from the parking lot to the store).

If all companies thought like this, I believe they would notice a big difference in customer satisfaction and ultimately, their bottom line. Shopping should be a pleasant experience. It really isn’t that bad when stores get it right. However, when stores don’t do it right, the experience is downright terrible. 

By the way, there are some very good blogs on the customer experience out there. A notable one worth checking out Flooring the Customer, which talks a lot about the retail customer experience. Maria at Customers are Always worked for Nordstrom for many years, so I am sure she has a lot of stories to tell as well. (What do you say, Maria? Want to do a post about it?)

Oh, and something interesting happened today. I was looking over the stats for Service Untitled this afternoon and noticed a large amount of people from San Antonio, particularly Rackspace’s network had been reading my proactive vs. reactive post. I sent an email to someone I know within the company and she said that an account manager had seen the post and sent it to the employees via one of the company’s mailing lists. Very cool!

It’s only Monday and I already have almost the entire week’s worth of posts planned out. Going to be a good week!

3 Responses to “Customer Service in Store Design”

  1. C. B. Whittemore said:

    Mar 20, 07 at 12:45 pm

    I was intrigued with Tom’s Bag Man post, too, and am glad that you have added to it. Thanks, too, for the reference to Flooring The Consumer!

  2. Denise said:

    Mar 22, 07 at 12:44 pm

    I love what you said about Nordstrom’s wider aisles. While doing last minute Christmas shopping with my husband in a New Jersey mall, I went to J.C. Penney to get him some boxer shorts. He is very frugal and would really prefer for me to get a low price on things like underwear for him. After 5 minutes in JCP, I thought I was going to scream. I felt so cramped and jostled, and was getting an instant headache from the screaming kids surrounding me, that I never even found the underwear. I turned tail and went to Nordstrom to complete my shopping for him. Later on, I said to him, “Sorry, babe, but if you eant me to buy underwear for you, you’re just going to have to cope with the fact that I’m going to go to Nordstrom and pay a little more, because I can’t stand being in J.C. Penney.”

  3. Service Untitled » A little thing that made a big difference. - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Apr 17, 07 at 10:38 am

    […] From a business perspective, it worked well. The sales in the fashion areas increased during customer appreciation events/promotions like the March Madness ones. Wives could shop while their husbands watched TV and ate. This is like stores giving men a place to sit. […]