sell the experience, not the method behind the experienceCompanies have figured out that customer service is marketing. It’s the reason customers come back. It’s the reason customers talk to their friends about the company. It’s the value that can drive your business. Smart companies promise a positive customer service experience; and they deliver.

Recently I read an article that Walmart is going to keep all of the cash registers open during the holidays.  I assume this is so that customer won’t have to wait in long lines, which apparently has been a problem in the past. Of course that’s the reason! And I appreciate that they are doing so.

By the way, I’m a fan of Walmart, and appreciate that they are doing right by the customer. I also believe that the customer is going to get the message. However, there is a valuable lesson here as it applies to customer service and marketing. In the end, I don’t really care about how many cash registers are open. What I do care about is not having to stand in long lines. So, why don’t they just tell me – or sell me – on that fact? Sell me on the experience versus what goes into making that experience happen.

Not too long ago one of the major retail box stores came to St. Louis (where I live). Everyone was excited to visit this cool store with huge selections and low prices. The public feedback was focused on a problem; long check-out lines. The store immediately started advertising a promise to keep lines under five minutes. I gave them a try, and they were true to their word.

What matters is what the customer will experience. When I watch a commercial about taking a vacation to Hawaii, they sell the destination, which is about palm trees and an ocean. They don’t sell me by telling me about how many seats are on the plane that will get me there.

Walmart should take the position that they will open as many as registers necessary to keep the customers’ wait time in line down to five minutes, or whatever time they think is reasonable. It doesn’t matter if that means two registers or ten registers are open. If a customer asks how Walmart plans to do this, then tell them that if necessary, every check-out lane will be opened to ensure that the customer gets out quickly.

This ties into the old sales and marketing adage about selling benefits and not features. Even when a customer buys into the benefit, especially when the benefit is customer service, that doesn’t mean the customer will care much about the details that drive that benefit.

In other words, sell and market to me on the experience, not the method behind the experience.

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