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Halloween at Retail

Furniture World Magazine


Although slasher film characters like Michael Myers seem to come back from the dead in sequel after sequel, customer issue resolution need not be a series of horror stories.

Even if you’re not a fan of slasher movies, you’ve probably heard about the main character in the movie series “Halloween.”

The storyline centers around Michael Myers, who seems to be a perfectly likable chap, other than the fact that he likes to chop up people on Halloween night. If your job requires you to settle unresolvable customer issues topped with unreasonable demands, you may be able to relate to Mr. Myers’ view of the world.

If you find that your issue resolution process is creating monsters, it may be time for a policy change.

I Love a Bargain!

This past February 13, my everlovin’ and I were on a motor trip to visit a single friend. We thought it would be nice to bring her a Valentine’s card and a gift. We spotted a Meijer’s store along the way. Meijer’s management thoughtfully provided a full display of gift items for the occasion midway through the store—with a sign indicating that the merchandise was on sale for 10 percent off. I made a speedy selection of a couple of items, picked up a card, some road snacks, and headed for the self-check aisle.

Much to my dismay, yet not to my surprise, the 10 percent discount did not appear upon check out. I love a bargain, and while I could claim that it was a principle that made me wave over a store associate, it was the money. My beckon brought over a young millennial wearing a name tag with Michael on the top line and Meijer’s below that. (Get it? Michael Meijers)! He asked how he could help; I explained the series of events.

I expected the normal “I need to do a price check” (10 minutes), “I need to check with a manager” (15 minutes), or, “I need to exhume the grave of our founder Hendrik Meijer who’s been taking a dirt nap since 1964, for approval” (30 minutes).

Michael Meijers would have none of that. He slashed right through the red tape, pushed a series of buttons on the register’s touchscreen, and the discount was applied. It may have been senior leadership, local store management, or Michael taking charge, but someone empowered him to resolve my issue swiftly—no questions asked.

Empowered Employees

Whether your retail empire consists of two employees or 2,200, there is no need to have just one decision-maker who can resolve customer issues. Meijer stores have 70,000 employees. Chances are good that each of them is empowered to make their shoppers happy, a policy backed up and respected by management. Your life as a retailer becomes easy when your team can fix issues before they get pushed through multiple layers of calls, contacts, and delays.

Meijer stores have 70,000 employees and chances are good that each one of them is empowered to make their shoppers happy, and that decision is backed up and respected by management.

An Issue of Trust

Can you trust your team to make wise and equitable resolutions? You already trust them with a few hundred bucks in the cash drawer and a few thousand dollars in small accessory items that can easily grow legs and walk out of the store. Plus, you trust them to protect and serve your greatest paid-in-advance asset, incoming shoppers. If you can’t trust them with the previous three examples, why are they working for you?

The Final Step

Reinforce the ability of your team to formulate wise service decisions, even if they don’t always turn out to be the ones you would make. That requires living with their choices and having their backs when it comes to customer facing situations. When needed, coach them towards better decision making in the future.

The Sequel

Customer issue resolution need not be a series of horror stories. Slasher film characters like Michael Myers seem to come back from the dead in sequel after sequel. Supporting policies that encourage legendary service will avoid the horror and create “happily ever after” stories passed on by a legion of raving fans.

     Legendary Service consists of:
          •Under-promise to manage expectations
          •Over-deliver on your promises
          •Resolve issues on the first contact
          •When necessary, err on the side of what your customer wants

About Gordon Hecht: Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry. You can reach him at Gordon.hecht@aol.com