File under: When will they ever learn
I'm at home visiting my parents this weekend, and to meet with clients in Boston early next week. I unpacked my bag and found my jacket to be overwhelmingly wrinkled. Getting it pressed in time for Monday AM is probably an option... but so is simply buying a new jacket, and that has much greater value to me! Luckily, there's a new Jos. A. Bank that opened down the street from my mom. A few hundred dollars later, I'm checking out and flipping through the catalog while Anthony, the salesman, is packaging up my purchases. He returns and asks if I'd like to take the catalog with me. I remark offhand, I'd love to, as I'll probably make another order online. To which he replies:
Do NOT do that... They kill you with service fees. Take my card, if you ever need anything just come back and ask for me and I'll make sure we take great care of you.
His sales trainer would be quite proud of his attention to service, but that wasn't what stopped me in my tracks. Come back and ask for him? His store is 500 miles from my living room, which is conveniently where josbank.com is located. The odds of making a repeat purchase from Anthony are slim, but unfortunately for the retailer, now my odds of making a purchase at josbank.com are probably even slimmer. People largely will do what they're incentivized to do. If I buy online, Anthony loses. Who else loses here? The retailer, as well as the customer. My guess is, this losing scenario is happening at retailers near you.
In scenario parlance, we talk about Driving Points; the point at which the potential customer was driven to engage with company's communication. We often cite advertising as examples of driving points- online, a search engine results page (an adword, or organic result), or offline, a magazine placement, tv ad, etc. Here's one more for you- completed purchases can be driving points for future purchases.
Here's a thought. What would happen if Anthony handed me a different card from his business card. This card had a repeat customer code, which tied back to his employee id. This card allowed me to shop online, and waived the additional service fees. The retailer tracks which storefronts are providing the most selfless service, those which promote the global organization over their own interests, and rewards them accordinly.
The customer can now shop through whichever channel is most convenient. The salesman can now earn commissions on all sales in which his fine service played a part in. The retailer capitalizes on future revenues. Sounds like a win-win-win situation to me...