See Why Your Business May Be More Like Macy’s Than You Think

The thing that frustrates most of us is uncertainty and unpredictability. We still love to discover what the next move will bring, even when we are looking forward to a new adventure. This is how we were built.

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We look for ways to keep stress and anxiety from rising when we are constantly confronted with uncertainty. If you think of this as a matter of concern to your customers, this isn’t an ideal situation. Customers who are constantly confronted with uncertainty and confusion will eventually become anxious and frustrated and will leave the business in search of a better solution.

I refer to it as “Random Acts of Excellence and Chaos.” This is the reason customer experience is unpredictable and individual. Customers feel stressed, which eventually results in customers quitting.

A few months ago, I was traveling to Southern California and had the chance to go to Macy’s located in Costa Mesa CA. Macy’s is a place I dread. There are a myriad of reasons why I do this but some of which I’m sure that you’ve encountered. The reason for this is because you don’t have someone to guide you. It’s similar to shopping online, but in a physical shop. After looking around for an extended period, you’ll discover what you are looking for. Next, you can determine if the item is one you like, and then go to the checkout line to pay. Are you familiar with the scene?

This time, however, the full displayed the idea of “Random Acts of Excellence and Chaos” precisely. This was an entirely different trip. I visited the mall with my wife as she was in search of an “mother of the bride” dress for our daughters due to marry. Since it’s a luxury mall, which caters to a certain segment of people I decided to take a stroll through the mall while she was looking for a dress. They weren’t the usual stores that you’d expect to find in a mall. The mall had stores like Bloomingdales as well as Sax Fifth Avenue, Dior and other high-end stores which are premium. Many of these stores were ones I’d not seen before. When you see 20 purses full of merchandise and security guards at the doorway of the shop, you’ll know you’re not in the right place. The stores are definitely expensive because of the high quality goods they sell.

When I was searching for a good spot to enjoy an Americano while my wife was shopping. I saw a sign for Starbucks as I was wandering through. It was located on Macy’s highest floor, which I found strange. So I took the escalators up three floors and I grabbed my cup of coffee.

When I was in Macy’s, it was a thought to me that Tommy Bahama clothing was the only item I’ve purchased from them in recent times. They carry their products at a variety of stores, and often have sales on their clothes. The quality of Tommy Bahama is excellent and I always go to their store when I’m at Macy’s. When I was descending the escalator, I saw two employees (rare to come across) carrying a rack, which I walked up to and asked them if they could help me find the section for men, specifically the Tommy Bahama section. Two of them particularly was extremely friendly and appeared to be eager to help me out. She told me that Macy’s was home to three stores within the mall, including a men’s, women’s and home goods shop. It was incredible the amount of merchandise they had in offer. She told me the men’s department wasn’t located in the store but was in the mall a bit.

This is the location where the “unusual Macy’s” event occurred. She offered to take me to the men’s department and told me to follow her so she could tell me where the store was located. Wow! I was shocked to meet a Macy’s worker eager to assist me in any way. It was certainly a “Random act of excellence.” I walked with her through the mall and she told me everything about the different stores and the design of the mall, what the reason for doing things in this manner and also provided lots of details throughout our walk. She was very friendly and didn’t feel like I asked her numerous questions. When we walked towards the shop she asked me to see if I could handle the rest and I thanked her for her patience. She told me it wasn’t a problem , and was delighted to help.

I am shocked… where was I? Was I dreaming or did this just happen? This was definitely an “Random Act of Excellence.” It was far from the “consistent chaotic behavior” I’ve witnessed at Macy’s before. It was an “exceptional customer experience” which I’ll never forget. I’d like to tell it to all of you.

This is the issue with “Random acts of excellence.” She set the bar high for me… she demonstrated to me how an employee of Macy’s could deliver an amazing customer experience. This was an incredible customer experience and it was from a company that I’ve always known would deliver the lowest quality customer service. I’m confused… is this really an “random act” or is this an entirely new approach to business?

This is the issue with “random acts “…, they are unpredictable. I had this amazing experience this one day and the next day, I am confronted with a “sub-standard chaotic incident.” This causes “customer confusion” which ultimately leads to customers “defection” and the customer selecting other options.

Although you might think that it is great that someone was able to stand up and act differently, it actually works against the company. Since they aren’t sure what to anticipate, it causes confusion and uncertainty for the customers. This is customer anxiety. If you consistently deliver a mediocre experience however, the customer knows what to expect and isn’t expecting anything less. Even even if the next experience is not adequate the experience will be highlighted even more because I’ve witnessed a “random incident or a feat of excellence”.

This is a fantastic opportunity to look at your company’s performance. Are you performing “random actions of perfection” or “random incidents of chaos” in the present? This is a common problem across many companies. There is likely someone trying to deliver an extraordinary experience that is not the standard. You are creating confusion for customers, eventually could cause them to leave if you make it normal to provide a less than stellar or average experience. What is happening within your business? This is a great opportunity to analyze your organization and make the necessary adjustments.

Although you may believe it’s wonderful for employees to behave in this manner but it’s actually detrimental to your company as it creates uncertainty and confusion among your customers. The most straightforward (and the most effective) solution would be to create specific Customer Experience Maps of an awesome experience and make sure that everyone is deliver a superior experience. This doesn’t happen if you tell your employees to be more friendly and to go that extra mile. They might attempt to do it for a couple of days before they fall back to their usual (and comfortable) routine ways of handling the client.

It’s easier to provide the wrong experience or provide one that is average, than to set the bar high and deliver an exceptional experience. It would be easy to everyone else to do it, but it is far more difficult than you think. Go to any Macy’s and you’ll be greeted with mediocrity in real life. It requires a lot of commitment and constant pursuit to push the limits, like at Zappos, Southwest Air, Disneyland, or Ritz The Carlton.

If an organization is committed to doing this day in and day out, this is among the aspects that helps them be obsessed with their customers.

Companies that are obsessed with customer service are focused on delivering this “exceptional experience” every day, not in a random manner. It is a part of their culture, their strategy and their vision, their mission, and, of course, their values. It is a part of their DNA… or as I call it as the DNA of the company.

It’s about WHO they ARE, not what THEY DO.

I was able to glimpse an amazing shopping experience in Macy’s… I only wish it was one that I could trust every single time. I would spend more time in Macy’s stores when I knew that I would get an amazing experience every single time. They’d be able to earn my loyalty and get more money for shopping. They would have me talking about them and doing their marketing for their benefit. It’s difficult to imagine…Are they a Macy’s or a Zappos. My opinion is that there is no middle between the two. You’re either exceptional or average. Try it for yourself and find out the way you treat your customers EVERY DAY. There’s a good question that every leader in your organization must think about and debate “Why do you provide the experience to your customers which you personally would not want to be a customer?” Something to think about…

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