Customer Experience: When Details Derail

A recent trip to a Bath & Body Works with my mom proved to be both a humorous and insightful customer experience. The young cashier, wearing a headset, scanned my mom’s items and then started the prescribed cross-selling of other scents. Alas success was not in her grasp because details did derail her.

Customer Service Experience: Details Derail Image by:Jinx

The music was blaring in the store and the cashier was mumbling quickly. I could only hear the last word of each question. I laughed hysterically as I watched and listened to this ridiculous interaction between my mom and the cashier.

Cashier: Blah blah blah coconut? Mom: “No”.
Cashier: Blah blah blah cucumber melon? Mom: “No”.
Cashier: Blah blah blah mango? Mom: “No”.

In fact, my mom told me later she didn’t even hear the scents. She found the loud music and mumbling cashier annoying and not being able to read lips, she refused to buy anything else.

The Details of a Great Customer Experience

  1. Care about what the customer cares about. If your demeanor, behavior, and actions are all about what your company care about , the customer won’t care about you.
  2. Make it conversational. Robotic inaudible questions don’t sell. A slightly slower pace with a tone of a real question, makes the difference. Just last week, a cashier sold me some new chewing gum with a sincere question: Would you like to try it? It’s really good and a steal at this price?
  3. Make it personal and personable. Many retail stores like Victoria Secret and Bath & Body Works have their sales associates on the floor wearing headsets. This one detail inhibits a great customer experience. It inhibits customers from approaching the sales associates. They look busy. They look preoccupied. They look as if their job is to listen to whomever is speaking into their ear instead of to the customer.
  4. Know and remember the difference between the customer’s experience and managing the customer experience. Leaders and managers like things routinized to make them easy to measure, analyze, and supposedly improve.

    Yet I ask leaders, when the details of those prescribed procedures create a bad customer experience — which they will — what exactly do your measures guide you to improve? I daresay no manager or leader will know how much money and potential customer loyalty they missed from my mom’s disgust.

Let empowered sales and service associates use great people-skills to engage customers for great results.

If you want to give your associates and reps a rule to follow, this one will create a great customer experience:

Make it easy, make it personal, make it memorable!

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. For permission to re-post or republish, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers transformational customer service workshops that put the care back into customer care. Across diverse industries and verticals, Kate’s 21 years of experience and insight create stellar results. See this site for outlines, footage, and customer testimonials.

3 Responses to “Customer Experience: When Details Derail”

  1. Sean says:

    I’ve noticed associates at Staples and Borders also wearing those headsets as they move about the store. It makes me feel as if I’m in the lobby a fast food restaurant.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Sean, Never thought of it that way yet I see what you mean. I think it’s a trend that deserves to be trashed. Thanks for weighing in on that point.

  2. Susanne says:

    I can certainly understand the customer side of the headset, but it is up to the associate to smile, look the customer in the eye and give them attention regardless. The headset avoids announcements and paging each other over a loud speaker. Also, if the associate has a question about something he or she can get an immediate answer without running all over the store.

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