We’ve written several times before about the crucial nature of customer service and experiential retailing (click here, for example). And we’ve also written about some customer service issues that retailers such as McDonald’s have faced (click here, for example).
Now, some retailers are confronting the question of whether their customer service has been too good. Yes, you read that right — too good. What do you think about the scenario described below?
For several years, a growing number of retailers have been encouraging shoppers to stay longer in the hope that they will buy more. They offer free Wi-Fi, cafes where people are welcome to lounge as long as they want, and so forth. Even department stores such as Macy’s offer free Wi-Fi.
So, isn’t this wonderful — retailers getting customers to spend more time in their stores and enjoy the ambience of those stores? Isn’t this a great hedge against showrooming? Seems that the proper answer is sometimes yes, sometimes not.
Consider these comments by Sarah Maslin Nir, writing for the New York Times:
“With its low coffee prices, plentiful tables, and available bathrooms, McDonald’s restaurants all over the country, and even all over the world, have been adopted by a cost-conscious set as a coffeehouse for the people, a sort of everyman’s Starbucks.”
“But patrons have also brought the mores of cafe culture, where often a single purchase is permission to camp out with a laptop. Increasingly, they seem to linger over McCafe Lattes, sometimes spending a lot of time but little money in outlets of this chain, which rose to prominence on a very different business model: food that is always fast. And so restaurant managers and franchise owners are often frustrated by these, their most loyal customers. Such regulars hurt business, some say, and leave little room for other customers. Tensions can sometimes erupt. Is the customer always right — even the ensconced penny-pincher? The answer seems to be yes among the ones who do the endless sitting.”
Click on the image of a Brooklyn McDonald’s outlet to read more. Has this outlet overreacted or is it following good business practices?
Photo by Michael Appleton for the New York Times