A few years ago I shopped at a shoe store that shall remain nameless. I’ll use their initials instead: DSW.
One is essentially one’s own salesperson at a store like this. The warehouse is visible after you walk through the door. There’s no one running to the back to check the inventory in the warehouse, because you can see it all. That setup was okay by me, because I don’t love shopping, and the less service I’m bothered with, the better I like it. I also know from experience that no one is a bigger sucker for a good sales pitch than a salesperson, so I was happy to be on my own.
I sold myself some shoes, trying them on, looking in the floor mirrors, making sure that each of them in the box were the same size, and then I made my way to checkout. The 5-person line there seemed particularly slow to move. In what might have been ten minutes, I was standing in front of the checkout counter. I placed my box where it could be scanned, my credit card at the ready.
“Do you have a VIP Rewards Card?” the woman asked me.
“No,” I said.
“Oh.” She seemed disappointed, unsure if she should go forward. “You could get 2X points today. Would you like to get a card?”
“I don’t know what 2X points means, and no.”
“Do you have a DSW Visa Card?”
“No,” I said.
“Could I get your email address?”
“You might already be in our system, but you can get $10 off your next purchase if we add you.”
“I’m not in your system, and I’ll pass.”
It was excruciating. I had shoes that I wanted and money to pay for them and I could see the freedom of the parking lot from the windows next to us. I finally stopped her before another question could be asked, and said, “I just want to buy these shoes. Here is my credit card.”
Later I went online and read about their new tiered rewards program, packed with “compelling benefits and emotional experiences” to make it seem like it’s less about saving money and more about “going beyond the point for transaction model,” according to the CEO.
Here was my emotional experience: Irritation. That day, I wanted shoes, not compelling benefits, and I didn’t want to “go beyond the point for transaction model,” which sounded vaguely illegal, or like an attempt to ask me out on a date.
My point is this: Consider your audience. After two questions, the clerk should have been able to tell that I was not enjoying our repartee. If you’re in sales or are a business owner, understand that some people don’t want an experience. They just want a complete product or service from you, on time. I don’t think that rewards and loyalty points are a bad idea for a business. Just don’t make it the point of your business. Your products, services, and human responses to customer need is the point.
Oh. And getting paid. That’s the point, too.
April 7, 2021