May Be More Like Macy’s Than You Think

One thing that frustrates many of us is the uncertainty and inevitability. Although we may be looking forward to a new adventure and discovering something new, we still look forward to finding out what’s going to happen next. It’s the way that most of us were created.

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If we’re exposed to the possibility of uncertainty regularly, our anxiety goes up and stress levels rise, and we seek some method to keep this from happening. If you consider this as a matter of concern to your clients, it’s not a good thing. Customers who are constantly faced with confusion and uncertainty eventually get frustrated and angry and leave the company to seek out a solution.

This is what I refer to as “Random acts of excellence and Chaos.” It’s when your customer experience is unpredictable daily, from person to person, so it makes your customers anxious… and ultimately to leave.

I was traveling to southern California in the past few months and I had the “opportunity” to go into Macy’s in Costa Mesa CA, near Newport Beach. Macy’s is one of the places I find myself avoiding. There are a myriad of reasons why I do this and some of them I’m sure you’ve had. One reason is that you don’t have someone to help you. It’s almost like shopping online but in a physical store. After wandering around for some time, you can decide are able to find what you want, decide if you like it (without asking questions) Then, look for a payment line to purchase it. Are you familiar with the scene?

But, this time they demonstrated the concept of “Random Acts of Excellence and Chaos” perfectly. This was an entirely different trip. My wife was looking for the perfect “mother-of-the bride” dress to wear at the wedding of her daughters. I went along with her. While she was shopping I decided to walk through the mall because it is a very “high-end” mall catering to a specific class of customers. These weren’t the usual stores you’d find in a typical mall… this mall had stores like Bloomingdales, Sax Fifth Avenue, Dior, and every other luxury high-end store you could think of… most of which I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing before. When you see 20 purses full of merchandise and security guards standing at the entrance of the shop, you know you’re in the wrong place. These stores are obviously expensive due to the high quality products they offer.

When I was searching for a spot to grab an Americano and my wife was shopping. I saw an advertisement for Starbucks while I was walking through. The sign was, interestingly enough, located on the upper floor of the Macy’s store… an odd position from my viewpoint. So I rode the escalators three floors to the top , and I grabbed my coffee.

While at Macy’s It occurred to me that Tommy Bahama clothing was the only thing I’d purchased from them in recent months. They are one of the stores that carry their items and usually offer sales on some of their clothing. I love the Tommy Bahama style and fit, so I always check them out if I happen to be in a Macy’s store. While going down the escalator I spotted a couple of employees (rare to come across) with a rack in stock, so I went over and inquired if they could direct me to the men’s section specifically the Tommy Bahama section. I was welcomed by one of the ladies and she was friendly. She told me that in the mall in question, Macy’s actually had 3 stores… a women’s, men’s, and home goods store. All I could think about was how much merchandise this could be to keep in stock. She told me the men’s department wasn’t located in this location and was located down the mall a little way.

This is the location where the “unusual for Macy’s” occasion took place. She offered to drive me to the men’s shop and asked me to follow her and show me. Wow! A Macy’s employee actually wanting to assist me in some manner… This was completely unanticipated from my past experiences. It was certainly an “Random Act of Excellence.” She walked me through the layout of the mall and explained it to me. She was very friendly during our walk, not feeling like my questions were putting her out at all. When we got close to the store, I told that I would be able to get through for the remainder of the walk and thanked here for helping me out. She told me it wasn’t a problem , and was thrilled to help.

I as stunned… Where was I? Did I have a dream or was it a coincidence? This was definitely a “Random Act of Excellence.” It was a far cry of the norm of what I have experienced at Macy’s in the past, which is usually a “consistent act of chaos.” It was an “exceptional customer experience” and one that I wouldn’t forget… because, after all, I’m taking the time to share it with you.

The problem is with Random Acts of Excellence. She set the bar higher for me… she demonstrated to me that an Macy’s employee can deliver an amazing customer experience. I had the pleasure of experiencing a wonderful customer experience from an organization that I’ve always believed to provide an “sub-standard” customer experience. This is a strange phenomenon. Is this just an accident or an innovative way of doing things?

This is what is wrong with “random acts “…”, they’re inconsistent. I received this awesome moment one day only to find that the next day, I am confronted with a “sub-standard act of chaos.” This creates “customer confusion” which eventually results in customer “defection” and selecting other options.

Though you might think this is an excellent instance of an individual taking a stand for something they believe in, it can end up being detrimental to the organization. This creates confusion and uncertainty in the mind of the client because they aren’t sure what to be expecting. This is called customer anxiety. There is a way to offer subpar experiences each and every time, but at the very least the client knows what to expect and will not be dissatisfied. Even if the next experience is sub-standard, it is illuminated even more than it was previously… because, in the past I’ve witnessed a “random performance of excellence.”

This is a great moment to analyze the performance of your company. Does your business provide “random quality” or “random act of chaos”? This is a regular occurrence within most companies… there’s most likely someone who is trying their best to deliver an exceptional experience that isn’t the typical experience the other employees are delivering. If the norm is to provide a than average or average experience for customers, then you are creating customer confusion that eventually leads to the customer leaving. What is happening within your company? Now is the time to do some analysis to discover for yourself and then make the necessary changes.

While you may think it is wonderful to have one or two employees acting such a way, it actually works against your company since it is creating uncertainty and confusion within your customers. The obvious (and absolutely best) solution would be to create specific Customer Experience Maps of the best experience for your customers and to make sure that everyone is deliver a superior experience. This won’t happen when you instruct your employees to be more welcoming and to go that extra mile. In the first few days, they may be able to try it but then they return to their regular (and more familiar) methods of dealing with customers.

Hopefully you can see why it is much easier to provide a standard or subpar experience than it is to raise the bar and create an unforgettable experience. It would be easy for everyone to do it however, it’s far more difficult than you think. Visit any Macy’s and you’ll see mediocre in the real world. It takes significant commitment and a constant effort to raise the bar such as at Zappos, Southwest Air, Disneyland or Ritz The Carlton.

This is the main reason that makes them CUSTOMER OBESSED.

Organizations that value their customers will provide the “exceptional experience” 24/7 and not just at random. It is a part of their culture, their strategy, their Vision, their Mission, and of course their Values. It is a part of their DNA… or as I put it”the DNA” of the company.

It’s about who they are and not what they do.

It was a fascinating glimpse into the amazing Macy’s experience. It was an amazing experience that I wish I could count on every single time. I would spend more time in Macy’s stores when I knew that I would get an amazing customer service every time. They’d earn more of my loyalty and gain more dollars for my shopping. Most important, they would get me talking about them and making their marketing efforts for them. It’s hard to imagine…Are they a Macy’s or Zappos. There is no middle ground for me… You are either exceptional or you are average. Try it for yourself and see how you treat your customers on a daily basis. Here’s a great question any leader within your organization should ponder and discuss “Why do you give an experience to your customers that youpersonally would not want to be a customer?” Here’s something to think about…

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