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Saturday, Apr. 1, 2006 at 1:28 pm

Re-Tales: Jos. A. Bank

By Howard Kaplan
April 1st, 2006

File under: When will they ever learn

I’m at home visiting my parents this weekend, and to meet with clients in Boston early next week.  I unpacked my bag and found my jacket to be overwhelmingly wrinkled.  Getting it pressed in time for Monday AM is probably an option… but so is simply buying a new jacket, and that has much greater value to me!  Luckily, there’s a new Jos. A. Bank that opened down the street from my mom.  A few hundred dollars later, I’m checking out and flipping through the catalog while Anthony, the salesman, is packaging up my purchases.  He returns and asks if I’d like to take the catalog with me.  I remark offhand, I’d love to, as I’ll probably make another order online.  To which he replies:

Do NOT do that… They kill you with service fees.  Take my card, if you ever need anything just come back and ask for me and I’ll make sure we take great care of you.

His sales trainer would be quite proud of his attention to service, but that wasn’t what stopped me  in my tracks.  Come back and ask for him?  His store is 500 miles from my living room, which is conveniently where is located.  The odds of making a repeat purchase from Anthony are slim, but unfortunately for the retailer, now my odds of making a purchase at are probably even slimmer.  People largely will do what they’re incentivized to do.  If I buy online, Anthony loses.  Who else loses here?  The retailer, as well as the customer.  My guess is, this losing scenario is happening at retailers near you.

In scenario parlance, we talk about Driving Points; the point at which the potential customer was driven to engage with company’s communication.  We often cite advertising as examples of driving points- online, a search engine results page (an adword, or organic result), or offline, a magazine placement, tv ad, etc.  Here’s one more for you- completed purchases can be driving points for future purchases

Here’s a thought.  What would happen if Anthony handed me a different card from his business card.  This card had a repeat customer code, which tied back to his employee id.  This card allowed me to shop online, and waived the additional service fees.  The retailer tracks which storefronts are providing the most selfless service, those which promote the global organization over their own interests, and rewards them accordinly.

The customer can now shop through whichever channel is most convenient.  The salesman can now earn commissions on all sales in which his fine service played a part in.  The retailer capitalizes on future revenues.  Sounds like a win-win-win situation to me…

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Comments (2)

  1. I’m never surprised when an employee of a national chain says to stay away from their website. They don’t get paid to sign people up as customers, but as you said, they should.

    In my company, whenever we find a new customer, their sales stay with me, their salesman, no matter which of our 17 offices they buy from.

    Much better for me and much better that they know they can always call me and have me as an advocate…to get rid of silly fees placed on them by someone who doesn’t get paid to sell, but wants to teach those slimy customers a lesson by jacking their invoice with crazy stuff.

    Your idea is right on the money…which is why nobody will ever use it. Too simple and makes too much sense.

    Maybe if you made it convoluted and of no value to the customer….

  2. Now I have never personally had to deal with a salesman quite like that. However, you’re right about the track back code on a card. Enhancing and rewarding your employees to serve is such a logical idea. It is in the creating of the ultimate customer experience where both sides win.

    The emphasis should always be on the customer never on the sale. How old school this is in their approach to retaining customer loyalty. Apparently isn’t familiar with the customer first, and the building of relationships first approach. I find that most online companies or companies with an online store are quite short sighted in their perspective of the customer experience and long term customer value.

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