I went laptop shopping a few days ago. This is not something I do often so quite frankly I was a bit excited and clearly an interested potential purchaser when I headed into my local independent Mac shop. Entering the empty shop (bar 3 staff), we headed purposefully for the 2 models I was interested in. 

In my youth I worked on a customer service desk and had training to recognise shopping modes by body language. For instance, a shopper who walks in and heads straight for a particular item is most likely in a buying mood. One who's ambling about, with a confused expression is probably in need of assistance. I'm doubtful that the staff here had had similar training. We stood chatting about the laptops for a good while, examining them in close detail, picking them up, hovering near one in particular. This went on for long enough, that we had finished discussing the laptop and the conversation had quietly moved on to: "wonder how long we're going to stand here, before they ask if we need help?" 

After fruitlessly trying to make eye contact with the staff member who was alternately looking over, then starting into space, we walked over and asked for help. "Do I need the extra graphics card or will it be ok without?" I asked "They'll both be fine" he said. But why should I pay £XXX for fine? He interrupted saying he "just had to go and do something, will be back in a minute" and left mid-conversation. So we left as well and the shop lost out on a potential easy sale, worth over £1k.

Independent shops are ideally placed to offer personalised customer service, this was a missed opportunity to dive in and wow us. It would have been so easy to make a bit more effort; show some interest, listen, answer questions knowledgeably and not walk off mid chat(!) I left feeling flat, a complete change from the mood on entering the store. Companies and brands working in competitive markets need to make customers and clients feel the love with great service. Otherwise not only will they head off to buy elsewhere, they'll probably tell their friends to as well.

Charlee Sully, Brand Consultant, The Usual Studio
I work across design, ideas, strategy and content, writing about branding, design, innovation and entrepreneurship. I love sushi, tea's my cuppa of choice and BBC6 music's always on. Unlike a former housemate - I do find comedy funny. 

Twitter @TheUsualStudio


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