Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Eye Contact, The Check Out Moment

Getting Past The Check Out Being in the business of customer interaction, I do find myself running constant audits of my customer interaction experience. It's a professional tic, I suppose. One of the very first things I learned in the area of retail was that if you mess up on the check out, you will ruin the experience. If you've walked around the shop, listened to the well-informed staff talk to you about the features of the gizmo, and then you have to wait too long in line, have product mispriced at the checkout, your debit card doesn't get processed first time, etc. then you feel a bit miffed. They blew the check-out. The one I can't get over in bars, hotels, and retail outlets is "when you are taking the customer's money or handing the customer back their change, look them in the eyes!". Handing over money and resources is a powerful moment everytime you do it. There is an inherent risk involved. When you buy online you have a check-out moment; when you receive an invoice for a service and now you have to pay for it, you have a check-out moment! What are you doing to actively manage that moment? You can also get a very big brand effect by showing that you are concerned that things are meeting your customers expectations post check-out. In the old days, they would ring you up and ask "did that parcel get to you ok?" because there was an understanding that the postal system had some widespread delivery variances. When was the last time an online retailer phoned you and asked you just about anything about your delivery experience? Even if I was to tell them that everything was great, just as I expected, often the very fact that I have had to articulate this has re-inforced my belief that this was indeed, a very good experience. The power of that "check-out moment" can be recreated in many other non-retail environments. Why don't you try to settle on three or four questions that help you manage your everyday check outs? Here are some examples - - Did you achieve what you were hoping to achieve from this meeting? - Do you think there is any way we could have made this a better or more productive meeting? - What do we have to do now to ensure the success of our next meeting?

If you have any examples of great examples of check-out moments, I'd love to hear about them.

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