How Macys Lost a Sale

Good Morning,

I’m always one who immediately hops on sharing exciting customer service stories, especially when they are mind-shockingly numb… I would much rather share the great and wonderful experiences!

Today’s story is a mix of both. It’s a story of great customer service undercut by horrendous company policy.

I have always had issues clothes shopping. Always. Shirts usually aren’t an issue but the arena of pants, especially jeans has plagued me with disaster from the very beginning. The waist is too big or the legs are too long (not that unusual) or the fabric around my quads is about to burst. I’ve long given up hope of finding cool looking jeans and just settle for what works, which ironically, seems to change from season to season. Ugh!

During a weekend shopping trip I stumbled upon the perfect looking jeans that were just a tad too big. Naturally, I asked if the waist came in a smaller size and planned on getting it from the back, paying, and then being on my way. That wasn’t exactly how it happened… they didn’t have any in stock, which wasn’t a huge issue, but how the rest was handled forced me to take my business elsewhere.

The store attendant was incredibly helpful and even looked up whether or not the fulfillment center had what I needed in stock and how long it would take to get to me. Unfortunately, he said that because my order wasn’t over $50 that I would have to pay for the shipping. I couldn’t help but laugh and said there was no way I was going to pay for the shipping on a product that they didn’t have in stock! I’m the customer expecting to purchase products and until they start paying me to shop there, it will stay that way.

The poor guy then scrambled around trying to find a way to get the product to either my house or the store without any shipping costs. Much to my horror, they will not order a product for you and ship it to the store for free! I couldn’t believe it! How was I supposed to get the pants I wanted when they wouldn’t ship them for me? I don’t really care that the pants weren’t “expensive” enough… Amazon ships me stuff all the time for free. Bad Macys!

Fortunately, I wasn’t frustrated with the store employee. He was doing a great job trying find a way to get those darn jeans but his hands were tied. After ten minutes of the back and worth and trying to brainstorm solutions, we gave up and I went on my way. I got home, hopped online, ordered the jeans from another company (lost business Macys!) and had everything ordered and shipped for free within seven minutes. I’m not saying I won’t ever go to Macys again, I love their products, but it will certainly give me pause before walking in their doors again.

Two takeaways from this story:

  • Empower your people – Company employees need more ability to help out customers. Customers bring their buying power with them, and without that power, companies do not have any reason to exist. If you aren’t selling products, it doesn’t matter that you have the best “X” item in the industry. You won’t be a successful business! The number one priority of any company should be making the customer happy. Period. Granted, Macys won’t miss my blue jean sale but if that becomes a pattern, it may have an impact on their bottom line.
  • Be better than your competitors – These days, retail is a cutthroat industry. If the store doesn’t have it, you can guarantee that an online retailer does. Brick and mortar stores have to offer equivalent or better services than their competitors, and they simply must offer up competitive advantages if they want to survive. For all you economists out there, the switching costs of changing jeans is unbelievably low, cause it’s basically free, so stores really need to promote their advantages over their competitors or have more and more people walk out the door product-less.

Happy shopping! Do you have any customer frustrations?

Picture credit 1. Picture credit 2.


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