Negative Influencer

My 9-year-old son Conor was engaged in his usual hypermultitasking activities last night – simultaneously watching TV, building something out of Legos, visiting the Webkins site, hugging the dog – when a Circuit City commercial came on. He stopped everything he was doing and proclaimed to no one in particular, “I will never shop at Circuit City again!”

You see, Conor and I had a bad experience at a local Circuit City store when an overmatched and undertrained sales clerk couldn’t figure out how to ring up the three items we were purchasing. His incompetence was both comical and frustrating. Twenty minutes into the transaction, I gave up, stopped a manager on the way out of the store, and ripped him a new one for putting staff on the floor who obviously weren’t prepared to do their jobs.

Not a big deal, right? Especially for Conor, who as a consumer-in-training is endlessly bombarded with brand messages and has trouble remembering where he left his socks 10 minutes ago. The negative memory will surely fade into the background, and all will be well. Except for one thing: That in-store experience happened nearly four years ago, when Conor was 5. No amount of slick advertising will ever convince this young consumer to spend his allowance in a store that wouldn’t let him buy a PlayStation game.

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2 thoughts on “Negative Influencer”

  1. Connor is the precise reason customer experience management begins and ends as an outward facing exercise. For some damn reason, customer experience management has become an infratructure function. I strongly believe that anyone in an organization at or above EVP should also drive the customer experience function.
    ONe of the many strengths of Disney is that for one week a year, each of its tactical execs has a mandatory assignment in one of its venues working with customers on a one-on-one basis. The same is true with InNOut burgers here in Southern Californis, by the way Rob.

    I love your blog, dude. Come home to San Diego now. Do it for LegoLand and Connor.

    Best
    JimF

  2. I think big box and chain retailers forget what business they’re in. My impression is that Home Depot spent the last several years (under Nardelli) focused on operational improvements. This week I went to buy a lawn tractor battery at one Home Depot (“We just sold out yesterday”) and then another (“We don’t carry those”). Then I went to Lowes and bought the dang battery. I can imagine all HD’s back-office conversations about when battery sales drop off and/or the profitability of carrying batteries and/or whatever. But if you’re a home (and lawn) improvement retailer, you should have lawn tractor batteries. If you JUST want to maximize your margins, go play on Wall Street.

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