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October 7, 2009

A Fitting Room Customer Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

by Marge Laney

by Marge Laney

Last week, I was training a group of managers at a large chain retailer to use our fitting room service system we had just installed when one of them asked, “This makes it so much easier for us and better for our customers.

Why isn’t this system everywhere?”

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question, and it always makes me cringe a little bit. And although our customer list includes some pretty impressive retailers, it’s the one question that bothers me because way back in 1995 when we launched I thought the system would become ubiquitous.

What I’ve learned over the years is that this system is not for every retailer with fitting rooms.  This system requires a firm commitment to fitting room customer service backed up by a well defined, well executed, and well monitored fitting room service strategy. 

Break room posters, marketing slogans, and corporate memos espousing commitment to great service don’t cut it here; I’m talking a top to bottom “how to” strategy for servicing the fitting room customer.  So that knocks plenty of retailers out right there.

For those that are good candidates for the system, some will argue that they don’t need service technology because the sales associates are always right there in the fitting room.  I’m not exactly sure what that means or how just being “right there” solves the connection problem because there’s still a whole row of closed doors between the customers and the associates.

They fail to see that the problem is not the sales associate’s ability to access the customer in the fitting room; they can knock on the fitting room door anytime! The problem is the customer’s inability to access the sales associate when they need something, a very big difference!

Think about it, when you’re in most fitting rooms you can connect with a friend in another city on your cell phone faster than you can connect with a sales associate ten feet away!

A customer in the fitting room should be given every opportunity to access a sales associate easily because they constitute the best opportunity for a sale. There are only two reasons customers enter fitting rooms…

to make a buying decision, or steal something!

With sales associates in and out of the fitting room area connecting with customers and answering service requests this increases the likelihood that customers will buy and decreases theft.

But when you require your customers to schlep in and out of the fitting room servicing themselves, you run the risk that they will get discouraged and leave rather than take the time to find what they like.

It’s just bad business to leave customers with no easy way to connect.

Our solution is inexpensive, simple to use, and convenient for both the sales associate and the customer. It also provides important data, including individual fitting room load and visit data that when viewed as a subset of store traffic gives insight into service strategy execution.

Monitoring load metrics gives feedback on how successful each store is in reaching load goals which tie directly to conversion.

So why isn’t this system everywhere?

Why indeed.

Why is it so hard to convince corporate management that it is not a good idea to lock fitting rooms without giving customers an easy way to connect with a sales associate to open one? 

Or to let customers wander into a fitting room unattended and not give them a way to connect with the sales associates when they need something? 

Or my personal favorite; arm the sales associates with a great service strategy and require that they become mind readers and door knockers to figure out when their fitting room customers need something!

The Bottom line; the customer is trying to buy why make it difficult?

© Alert Technologies, Inc. 2009

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