Guest Post by Sam Ford
A few months back on a trip to New York City, I was standing in line at DataVision, heralded by City Guide NYC as “practically a New York City landmark,” when I eyed this laminated decree, posted next to the counter. It declares: “CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IS OUR GOAL!” IN ALL CAPS. And an exclamation point to boot.
Right under it, also in all caps…and highlighted is…ABSOLUTELY NO REFUNDS. DataVision may have had a range of issues that led to their “no refund” policy. But it seems it seems an odd thing to highlight if their top goal is, as stated, to achieve “customer satisfaction.”
I was reminded of that sign this week when I saw this Consumerist story from Chris Morran with a sign of its own. In this case, a specialty grocery store is charging $5 to anyone who comes into the store to look at products but then doesn’t make a purchase, for fear that they are looking at their store and then buying the products elsewhere.
Chris points out that, if the store’s prices are competitive, this shouldn’t be happening and that, if they have products not found elsewhere that people want, then it couldn’t happen, anyway. Most importantly, Chris asks us to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. If you were a new potential customer, would you ever want to go into the store to check it out, if walking through the door would cost you $5?
I’d take it a step further, though. If you were a regular of this grocery shop, what message does this sign send? A company that distrusts you. A company not confident in its offerings. And a strong deterrent to ever “swing by” the store again, if you’re just passing through.
I can’t help but wonder if either of these stores thought beyond the immediate economic benefit of their policies and into the message those signs send to the people who walk into their stores. If not, they may find out the hard way, when their sign eventually reads:
Sam Ford is Director of Digital Strategy with Peppercomm and co-author of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. He’s also a contributor to Fast Company.