Forget the extra mile. How about an extra inch? That’s all it takes to provide customers with a great experience and win them over. And it’s so darn easy, it’s amazing more people don’t go…that…one…extra…inch.
A couple of days ago I went to a store to purchase a gift. The cashier wouldn’t have really known it was a gift until I asked the price of the bags that were conveniently positioned at the front. They were $2. (Incidentally, why don’t more stores have inexpensive gift bags available when you checkout? Some give them away for free, but stores are missing out here.)
I purchased a bag and was ready to go on my way to assemble the gift (put items in bag, purchase tissue paper, scrunch up tissue paper, position tissue paper appropriately…)
It was at this point that the cashier went an extra inch. “Would you like me to remove the price tags?”
“Oh, sure,” I replied, thinking that’d be one less step I’d have to do.
As he’s picking at the sticky price tags I look behind me. There’s a lineup of people. None of them seem concerned with the extra time the cashier is taking.
I go to collect my items, but the cashier is still going an extra inch. He opens up the bag and places the items carefully inside. Another step I won’t have to take, I’m liking this guy more and more.
I go to grab the bag’s handles to complete the transaction, but he’s still not done. From behind the counter he pulls out perfectly matching tissue paper!
Sweet mother of shopping experiences! Will this guy write the card for me too?
The whole time, the line of people is filling up behind me, but none of them seem concerned. I realize most of them are probably repeat shoppers, and they know this guy and this store go the extra inch. They enjoy the shopping experience (from the style of the store to the process of paying) so they don’t mind waiting. And the whole thing only takes a few extra minutes. It’s a little inch more that this guy gives – a few extra steps that are so easy. As soon as he saw I was purchasing a gift he took an approach that would satisfy my individual needs at that moment.
Some stores offer gift wrapping, but they rarely ask. And usually you expect it already. This wasn’t a typical gift store (at least not in my expectations), so I was taken pleasantly off-guard. Reading Seth Godin’s book, “small is the new big” I can’t help but make the parallel with Seth’s frustration over people sticking to a script. No matter what feedback they’re getting from customers they treat each and every interaction the same, asking the same questions even if they don’t apply whatsoever. Scripts are necessary to process people quickly (and efficiently?) but if you can’t get away from the script and go the extra inch you’ll never provide customers with a truly wonderful experience.
The cashier saved me precious time and packaged the gift better than I ever could. The result: Happiness all around. Oh, and at least 3 direct referrals on that same day.
Go the extra inch. It’s easy and you’ll win so much more.
Photo by massdistract.