Sunday, April 5, 2015

Do you want fries with that?

There’s a Starbucks Coffee right next to my office. I have been going there for coffee nearly every work day for the past year. I noticed recently that my usual dull “tall coffee” order is automatically triggering the cashier/barista to ask “Do you want anything from the pastry case?” I think it ought to be clear by now that I am a regular who just wants my morning Joe. Nothing more. Nothing less. Now, I know it’s tough to get by on the 400% markup on the coffee alone but I wish they would spare me the suggestive sell.
The practice of training employees to up-sell is pretty common these days. Maybe it started to become a widespread practice in the fast food business. But does anyone really need to be reminded that the burger place also sells French Fries?

How does all this relate to Marketing? Well, let’s face it “everything is Marketing” and the interaction you have on-premise is an important part of your brand personality and equity in your business. If there is a Marketing Research Student working on a doctorate out there searching for a study topic, how about “the erosion of the brand at point-of-purchase.” Surely you could win a PhD if you could quantify the damage we do at retail.

And it isn’t only the quest for an incremental sale. When you are at the airport, ticket counter people are so burdened with the routine Spanish Inquisition and national security they forget to tell you to have a nice flight. Surely there is a better way to handled routine checks and still provide friendly and efficient customer service.

And the cashier line at the grocery store is either going to ignore my “paper or plastic” preference or roll her eyes in disgust over my demand for paper. (It’s not a “green” thing with me, I would rather have bags that will stand up on their own than those flimsy plastic sacks.)

The point is simply this. We have to find ways to put humanity back into transactions. Let’s throw out the scripts and provide customer service with a smile. We’ll all feel better about the people and the brands for which they stand.  

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