Opening Doors with Kim

Kim Ades of Opening Doors lets you in on her frame of mind.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Please Feel Free to Come in and Use our Washrooms

My daughter has a small bladder - that's just the way it is. She is still only 7 years old and invariably, each time we leave the house, we are in search of a washroom (restroom for Americans). I usually factor it in to our journey but sometimes a mother forgets. I forgot the other day. We went shopping at the ROOTS warehouse outlet in a strip mall not far from my office. ROOTS, for those of you who don't know, is a clothing store that sells t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and sweat pants symbolizing Canada's national identity in sports and athletics across the world. I was on a mission to buy a few gifts for some of my American friends.

With the assistance of my kids, I scoured the store for close to an hour. I chose a bunch of cool, funky t-shirts for my friends, a series of matching sweat suits for my kids, and even picked out a few things for me. My bill was easily $500. As we approached the cash, I heard the all familiar "Mom, I have to pee."

"Is it urgent?" I asked

"Yes - it's extremely urgent."

I approached the young girl standing at the cash register. "Is there a washroom that we can use?"

"No I'm sorry, we don't have a public washroom in the store."

"But my daughter is desparate."

"I'm sorry, I can't help you, we don't have a washroom in the store."

"Where is the closest washroom?"

"At Tim Hortons, in the next strip mall across the way."

"Are you telling me that when you have to use the washroom, you have to leave the store and go to Tim Horton's?"

She chose not to answer that one. Clearly they had a washroom that was not for public use. Not even in extreme circumstances. I begged, I pleaded, I was incredulous, and slowly my anger grew. I threatened to leave the store without buying a thing - they didn't care. I couldn't believe that they were ready to let a sale go because they didn't want to break the store's washrom policy.

I left the store fuming. Fuming and thinking that if I owned a retail store I would put up a sign that says "Please feel free to come in and use our washrooms." I would use it to drive traffic. In fact, I would be known for that. And as soon as they finished their business, I would offer them a pamphlet showing them the store specials or give them a food sample to keep them in the store longer. I would make them feel good about coming into the store. I would surprise and delight them and they would be happy to buy lots of stuff. And when they approached the cash, they would be greated by the warmest, friendliest face who would go the extra mile to let them know about something else they might like to buy and call over a sales person to bring it over to them. I would turn it into an experience where they leave with a smile - one that they go home talking about.

What can you do to leave your customers feeling so good that they walk away talking about you? How can you go the extra mile? It's more than just adding value - it's adding delight. And it's training everyone in the organization to deliver delight. Think about what would delight you and factor it in. It doesn't have to be huge or wildly expensive - but it does have to leave people feeling like you truly care about them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I think you'd be asking for trouble to be that verbose about advertising washroom availability. There's no telling who would be frequenting the store.

I do think that a policy allowing customers to use the facilities is in order. How stupid of them to deny you that privilege, especially considering the circumstances.

9:23 AM  

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