Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Buy Now... or Get Out!"

I had an unfortunate customer experience at my favorite bookstore (Barnes & Noble) today. It illustrates The Good, The Bad & The Ugly about customer service in today’s retail world.

First things first, I am a very loyal B&N customer. I have been a paying member for over 3 years, and I spend well above the average amount on books for myself, family, friends and colleagues every year. I love to ‘hang out’ at my local store… working… reading… and buying. The one thing that I don’t do is drink $4 coffee or buy $3 brownies. That’s why today’s store visit was disrupted by a smiling rep telling me that I needed to buy something or move out of the seated area.

I quietly moved to another part of the store, but my favorite bookstore was not so special any more. After a polite phone conversation with the district manager, I continued to do my work at a less desirable location (without electricity). If the department manager had known how much annual business I represented, maybe he would have come over to thank me for being a loyal customer… instead of instruct his subordinate to kick me out. Appreciate every customer as if they are a paying customer.

The associate who was ordered to kick me out felt so bad that she came by later to apologize (and sneak me a warm brownie). Barnes & Noble is still my favorite bookstore.