Create a Shopping Experience

Recently, I entered a Men’s Wearhouse to shop for a sports coat, which I have actually avoided wearing for the last 40 years. The last time I wore a coat and tie, paisley was in and so were double-breasted coats, and Richard Nixon had resigned his Presidency. But my life has changed a bit (although my fashion style has not), and although I had absolutely no idea what to look for, and no idea how such a jacket should even fit, I took the plunge and walked through the doors of a specialized men’s clothing store. I did so feeling completely awkward - sporting my jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers - and rather out of place. My presence did not scream, “I am about to be your best and most prolific shopper”.


In my vulnerability, I realized that what I needed was a really amazing customer experience. I needed more than just good service... I needed to feel comfortable and confident about being there. And quite frankly, that’s what happened. When my shopping experience was complete, (it was a buy one-get one free weekend), I left with 2 sport coats!


I want to share with you three very memorable aspects of my experience in the Men’s Wearhouse that are well worth employing in any retail environment to provide the ultimate customer experience... which by the way, should always be our number one priority.


1) Empathy - It’s fair to say that I was a “stranger in a strange land” shopping at a Men’s Wearhouse, and I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about such places. And yet, my salesperson - Bruce - never tried to change my attitude. He was not defensive about what the Men’s Wearhouse was all about; he made me feel completely comfortable, and even seemed to understand my attitude. He wasn’t about wanting me to adapt to the environment I had now chosen to enter. Instead, his baseline was my attitude. I felt understood. His empathy for my awkwardness and discomfort all but eliminated my attitude rather early on. He was masterful. He simply took the time to listen and understand.


2) Make it Personal - As soon as Bruce approached me, he introduced himself and asked my name. From that moment forward, he was completely mine. He was one hundred percent present. It never occurred to me that he would be pulled away or distracted by another customer, phone call, or fellow employee. He made me feel like I was the most important person in the store. He personalized my shopping experience and that experience alone was very powerful. I felt well attended to; I felt like he heard my needs; and I felt like, above all else, he genuinely wanted to make me happy. He wanted to ensure that I left with exactly what I needed, no matter how long it took, or how many options he needed to show me. It all felt very special - like I mattered. That’s important for any shopper to feel. They want to know that you get them... that you not only understand their needs, but that you delight in providing that to them.


3) Create an Experience - It’s not about the product you’re selling. It’s about creating an experience. And this is what I encountered with Bruce. I never felt like I was a customer. It was not about the sport coats... it was about me. He understood that it wasn’t the look, feel, style, or fit of those coats that would win the day; it was my experience with him and the store. He made it memorable, effective, and enjoyable. A coat just happened to be the merchandise I was shopping for, but because he did such a wonderful job at creating an experience where I was comfortable, cared for, and listened to, the merchandise became secondary, and as a result, an easy sell.


I will return to a Men’s Wearhouse the next time I need a new sports coat, slacks, or tie. Bruce created far more than just a customer. With me, they now have a new client. It’s all about the experience. The product is secondary. You must first connect with the person, then you connect them with the product. We so often jump right into connecting the customer with the product that we skip the most important step. Create clients... not just customers. It’s a far more sustainable business model.