Why was a much hyped retail experience, such a disappointment?
Working in the multichannel payments industry and having responsibility for the Point of Interaction, including the customer journey, I am always interested in improving the retail experience through new and existing technology. I have been in a number of meetings where retailers have asked if they could replicate the experience received from a certain fruit based store!
This week I had reason to visit one of their stores, including purchasing something, and I had a great deal of expectation from the visit from a research point of view. First, it may be worth explaining what I was expecting, before discussing why I feel that it was one of the most painful purchases in many months!
From previous conversations, I was led to believe that this store had removed the concept of a checkout, and allowed all their staff to perform a consultative selling role. I wanted to discuss a product with a sales assistant, see alternative items, and get specific technical details from them. This should have been possible through the mobile “point of sale” tablet they were carrying. Once we had agreed the right item, I was expecting to be taken to where it was in the store, for the sales assistant to scan the item from the mobile PoS, and pay by card there and then – using a wireless PIN pad. I was expecting an option to have the receipt printed or emailed to me. The reason I thought that this would be how it would work, is because this is all available today through our current existing payment solutions!
So what did happen?First, I had to find someone I could speak to. Not having a fixed location, the sales assistants had the freedom to wonder away from busy areas, and I found myself walking in circles trying to find an assistant. Once I had located a “target” I waited in a disorderly snaking queue, until I was at the front. At this point, it appears that the person not only failed to answer a single question, but also had no inclination to use the lump of hardware to assist in responding! I then disappointedly set off around the busy store to find the product, and assess their suitability through guesswork.
Product located, and selection made, I once again had to wonder aimlessly around the store to queue for a staff member while others in front were trying to get answers to their own questions! After a painfully long wait, I made it to the payment process. The item was scanned (as expected), confirmation of payment (Visa debit) made, only to be told that we would have to go over to a fixed location where the card reader was located! We then stood side by side to queue for use of the reader. More time later, there we were, card in hand hovering over the PIN pad while the assistant then told me that his connection had dropped, and he will just scan the item again!
I am a patient person, but this was almost too much for me! We were ready; I inserted my card, entered my PIN and made the payment. Done – or so I thought! The assistant asked if I wanted a receipt – the options were “take it or leave it!” no email or Text options! Feeling uncomfortable about walking out a store with no proof of purchase, I opted for a receipt. To my amazement, the assistant told me he would be back in a minute while he went and got it. A minute may have been fine, but he was gone for an eternity before appearing looking confused as to who the receipt belonged to! I identified myself and I obtained the slip of paper.
“Do you want a bag?” he asked.
“Do you have one on you?” I responded.
“No, but I can go and get one” he retorted.
This was the final straw for me. Bag-less, and feeling cheated by the experience I left the store to watch my purchase get wet in the London rain as I dashed for cover.
I am not suggesting that I received the typical customer service, but for a company trading on its image (and a couple of sound products), I am amazed when I think back to being asked if we can replicate this experience! I can, but I like to think that with some careful thought and business understanding as to the customer experience (rather than to crowbar technology in for the sake of it) many of the issues I faced would have been elevated or eliminated altogether.
The Payment experience is not about the speed though the till, but the manner in which we get there. The right multichannel payment solution can dramatic help in the customer journey, especially as the final payment experience has the potential to leave a lasting impression on the customer.
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