Making The Right Choice. . . . For Your Customer


Retailers make subconscious choices between making things easier for themselves or delivering the best experience for their customers almost every day. We rarely realize we’re making this choice, but because everything we do has an impact on our customers they will feel the results of our choices.  The more we are aware that we are making a choice the more likely it is we’ll make the right one.

A common example of this choice is when a store staff closes down one register early so they get out quickly at closing time. I’ll admit that this was my standard operating procedure when I owned or ran a store.  The problem is that closing a register early may force some customers to wait if the store is busy at closing time or if there is a problem with one customer’s transaction. What’s the big deal?  Well, it might not be a big deal to the staff but it is if you’re the customer waiting in a line as you stare at an unused register.

Here are some other subconscious choices retailers make between making things easier for themselves and delivering the best experience for their customers.

* Not staggering staff meals and breaks. Why is that anytime we let multiple people go on break the store gets busy?  I have no idea why but I do know that not having enough staff available is something that should be avoided.

* Opening late or closing early. Time is one of our customers’ most valuable resources. When we keep them waiting or when our store is not available to them when we said it would be then we’re wasting our customers’ time and telling them that our time is more valuable than theirs. That is both rude and shortsighted.

* Worn or defective display products. I’ve met retailers who refuse to invest in replacing display products because it reduces their profits on those particular products. First and foremost, worn or broken display products cost sales.  Second, it has a negative impact on the customer’s experience.  Customers deserve to see and try out products that are in good working order so they can make a sound purchase decision.

* Not having the proper size bags. On the surface this may seem petty but don’t you find it annoying when stores don’t have bags that are the appropriate size for the products? Sometimes a store just runs out, which I can understand, but to not make every effort to have right-sized shopping bags because you don’t want to spend the money or make space behind the cashwrap doesn’t cut it.

* Not giving customers bathroom access. Yes, it has been a while since I’ve harped on this topic. I’ve heard a hundred reasons why retailers won’t let a customer use their restroom. None of them mean anything to a customer who needs to go, or has a child about to have an accident.  As I’ve also pointed out before, when you send customers out of your store in search of a restroom you’re taking a risk they won’t come back.

* Not training new employees quickly enough. This was really highlighted during a recent conversation with a client.  This retailer has an extensive number of products that all require substantial knowledge to sell.  She said she couldn’t afford to bring the part-timers in for extra training hours so it was taking a while to get employees up to speed.  I pointed out that the lost sales might be costing her more than the extra payroll it would take to get them trained sooner.

Putting insufficiently trained salespeople out on the floor isn’t fair to the customers either. Every customer deserves the best possible experience and in many stores that requires a knowledgeable and informed employee.

So what are some of the other possible choices you might be making that could be impacting your customer’s experience without you even realizing it? You can avoid making those choices in the future by always asking yourself, “How does this impact my customer?”


About the Author

DougFleener2Doug Fleener is founder of the Dynamic Experiences Group. He is a veteran retailer with more than 25 years of hands-on retail experience with world-class retailers including Bose Corporation and The Sharper Image. He has also owned and operated his own specialty stores. His new book, The Profitable Retailer: 56 surprisingly simple and effective lessons to boost your sales and profits published by Acanthus Publishing.

Doug is now president and managing partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, a Lexington based retail consulting firm dedicated to helping retailers create unique customer experiences that results in higher sales and profits.  Learn more at or call Doug at 866-535-6331.

Fleener also shares his knowledge of experience based retailing in a series of custom key notes and workshops designed for stores, businesses, corporations, non-profits, and trade associations of all sizes. His casual style and quick wit make him not just a crowd pleaser but also an incredible motivator, encouraging people to take action and deliver extraordinary experiences to customers and employees alike.  Learn more at

Related articles

If Only Someone Would Listen

The A – Z On How To Be a Better Manager or Owner