Shopping Cart Blues

by Jan Yuill

I had just a little thing to pick up at my favourite hardware store. I ran in, got the ‘little thing’, and then remembered I needed another ‘big thing.’ So I went to the back of the store where it was, picking up a ‘bunch of other things’ along the way.

As I hoisted the ‘big thing’ from the shelf, I thought, “Oh, a cart would have been handy.” There was none in sight, so I went to the front door, where they are usually stashed. None there either. I stopped a clerk and asked if she could help me find a cart, as I juggled my purse, the ‘little thing,’ ‘the bunch of other things,’ and the ‘big thing.’

She told me that customers were expected to pick up shopping carts on their way into the store – from now on. It was a new store policy. I gave her my best you’ve-got-to-be-kidding look, and said, “So I have to put all these things down somewhere, go out of the store, pick up a cart, come back in, and get them again?”

“Yes,” she said, “you can just leave them there at the Customer Service desk.”

I spoke to another clerk, and then the manager. They all sang the same tune. Carts are outside. No help is available. You must remember to pick one up on your way in.

“But what if I only think I need one ‘little thing,’ and then change my mind?”

“What if I want to spend more money than I had planned?!”

The staff were paralysed. All they could do is explain that it was store policy. And they could certainly not do anything about THAT.

Today my love for this hardware store died.

Are you expecting your customers to know your rules of operation? Are your policies making it difficult for customers to buy from you? Are your methods serving you, or your customers?

Would a customer’s voice be heard if they had something to say? Is your door open to the customer with an idea?

Think about it. Do you know what your customers are thinking and saying about your organization? Your success depends on it.