As consumers we have so many choices; maybe too many choices. Whether shopping for electronics, appliances, or clothing there is a multitude of categories, features and options. Want a new digital camera? Best Buy has 196 choices for you and that’s just the “point and shoot” models. How about a new dryer from Sears? There are 401 models to choose from! Nordstoms has 265 different pairs of men’s slip-on shoes to consider.
With so many choices today’s consumer is very likely to become frustrated trying to figure out what they want, let alone what they need. If the purchase is discretionary we may put off buying until we have time to do more research. Or we may put off the purchase all together. Whether shopping on the Web or in person we sometimes want an expert available to understand our needs, answer our questions, and offer guidance; maybe even make suggestions based on what they’ve learned about our needs. In some case we may need someone to hold our hand throughout the decision-making and purchase . Whether it’s a brick and mortar business or an on-line merchant, companies that understand and respect their customer’s need to have easily accessible information to go with the plethora of choices will have a better chance of making the sale and of creating customer loyalty.
I’ve purchased two flat-panel televisions in the past few years. Each time I started at Best Buy and ended up making the purchase at Video Only. I did research on TV’s and I knew which one I wanted. It was available at Best Buy at a competitive price and I was ready to buy. I just needed just a few clarifications. I needed a sales clerk who was willing to hang out for a few minutes explaining features and comparisons. When I finally did get someone’s attention and asked a question they gave me a quick answer that actually led to more questions. I guess I appeared a bit needier than they had hoped for. They got distracted and told me they’d come right. They never did and neither did I. At Video Only the sales clerk approached me after giving me a chance to look around, answered all my questions, took time to show me comparable units, he demonstrated features, and took the time to educate me on the different technologies and trade-offs. In all he spent about an hour with me and not only made the sale but also a customer for life.
This brings me to Flo, sales clerk in those cute Progressive Insurance commercials. Who doesn’t like Flo, right? Flo embodies what we all seek when we are shopping for something complex, confusing, or that offers a wide variety of choices. Here is what we like about her:
– Flo is immediately available to us upon entering the “store”
– Flo is totally engaged and interested in our needs
– Flo is enthusiastic about the products she sells
– Flo is knowledgeable and explains things in an easily understandable way
– Flo loves her job
– Flo is fun
– Flo makes us laugh
Progressive wants you to believe they make shopping easy and with Flo they’ve hit a home run. The Progressive store, like Flo, is fictional but represents what merchants must deliver if they are to stay in business– an easy shopping experience.
Don’t let those boxes Flo hands to you fool you. Flo says there is insurance in those boxes but what she is really delivering is a great customer experience.