If you’ve ever played sports, I’m sure that you have heard the expression, “finish strong.” Aside from being important in sports, finishing an interaction with a customer can be a great way to improve the image of your brand and achieve customer satisfaction.
When I was in college we took a tour of a major retailer, and one of the things it focused on was training every staff member to be a cashier. In fact, that is the first thing that any new employee learned, no matter what his job was going to be. Registers have an easily accessible button that allows for cashiers to call for assistance if their lines get longer than 2 people. Why is this so important? The retailer’s belief is that if a customer has a bad experience for whatever reason while shopping, but at least gets checked out quickly and has a positive experience there, it will have a positive effect on customer retention and they might decide to come back.
Even if a customer has a great experience while shopping the store, a bad experience at the end of his visit can wreck his whole image of the brand. People today are always in a rush. We just don’t sit around and wait for things, so to wait even for a few minutes can feel like wasting precious time to many consumers. In fact, just look at this statistic about consumers today when it comes to the Internet. A recent New York Times article found that 4 out of 5 people will click away from a video if it stalls while loading. Even a few seconds can cause us to turn away from something. Sure, people will wait if they have to in order to purchase their groceries, but that certainly does not mean they will be happy about it.
Another New York Times article talked about how consumers overestimate their time waiting in line by 36%. They also tend to fixate on lines that are moving faster than theirs instead of the lines that they are moving faster than. In short, someone could pick the second fastest checkout lane from the ten that are open and still be upset because she has to wait in line watching the fastest one right next to her.
In the end, you can improve your store image in the minds of your customers if you get them through the checkout process faster. Retailers focus so many resources on keeping customers in the store to increase basket size – it is important to do that to help the overall success of the business, but once a consumer has decided to check out, work as hard as you can to get him through the door quickly so they will keep coming back.
If you do make changes to your existing front-end standards to have more cashiers readily available or want to improve the results from existing standards, the key is accountability. Have your store managers, district managers, and corporate staff incorporate checking on checkout line length into their store audits. The more eyes on the issue, the better and faster improvement you will see