Sunday, November 12, 2006

When Should You Stop Building Value?

Yesterday I went to Wholefoods to buy some groceries. As I walked in I was immediately drawn to the flower display. The last time I was there I purchased some beautiful lilies that lasted weeks. This time they had peonies! Peonies at this time of year are unheard of. Because my mother used to raise these flowers on the side of our house, I have a special attachment to them. I picked them up and placed them in my basket.

After shopping for 45 minutes, I walked up to a cashier in a good mood. My good mood ended the minute the cashier took one look at my beautiful, prized peonies and said, "Wow! These are REALLY expensive!" I acknowledged that they were, and told her that I felt they were worth every penny, since they were rare at this time of year. She replied, "I don't know, I might spend that much for seven flowers, but certainly NOT for three." Again, I was placed in the position of defending my purchase. "I really love these flowers." I didn't go into the fact that I was approaching the anniversary of my mothers death and the flowers were a way of staying close to her. But the cashier didn't stop there. Once again she challenged my purchase by saying "I don't know, these really are EXPENSIVE!"

Now first of all, I do not come to a cashier with the hope of being criticized for my choices. Nor do I want to have to defend my purchases. Nor do I want to be made to feel foolish or as if I didn't know how to spend my money. All I want is to get out in a timely fashion.

I have no idea what her intention was with this bit of banter. Perhaps she felt she was "engaging the customer". What she did accomplish was to make her store seem like they charged too much and her customer, me, was an unsuspecting dupe.

The customers experience doesn't end with the placement of goods in the shopping cart. One could even argue it doesn't end until all of the products purchased have been used. Certainly, the check-out is a major part of the shopping experience.

Strangely enough, this was not the first time I have taken products to a cashier and was told, "WOW! This is expensive!" I would prefer to hear the equivalent of what waiters say at fine restaurants, "Excellent choice!" This allows a customer to feel smart.

The fact is, we all want our choices to be validated. Had this cashier said, "Oh what beautiful flowers, I know you are going to love them." I would have left the store feeling like I had made a wise choice. Instead I found myself rationalizing my purchase all the way home. It also left me with the feeling that Wholefoods was TOO expensive.

I am sure this tactic of critiquing the customer's purchase was not part of the training curriculum. But do you think that cashiers are trained to add value at the end? Clearly, this doesn't happen at many places.

If you have a cashier at your establishment, train them how to continue building value at the cash register. It really will help.

If you would like a white paper on the value of building value write to me at building I will send you one for free!

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