So I’m back home in Valparaiso, IN and I need to go buy some printer paper and check the PO Box. Logistically speaking the best place to get the paper is K-Mart because it is 4 blocks down the road from the PO Box. Unfortunately, I didn’t factor in checkout time nor the lack of shopping experience at the store. And I don’t blame the K-Mart employees much. Ever try to keep your moral when working on a sinking ship?
Anyway, Here’s the problem:
After waiting in line for a few minutes – an experience that consisted of a lady in the front of the line arguing the price on a $2.99 incense candle which concluded a stockboy price check (times are that tough noawadays) and a third checkout line not being open because then the three people at the service desk would have to leave the comfort of their isle – I finally got purchase my two stacks of printer paper and Coca-Cola (shouldn’t have done that. It’s not the same unless you get the bottled ones made with ole-fashioned cane sugar). Once the cashier works through my items and learns that not only do I not have a K-Mart membership card but that I don’t want one, I go to pay with my Discover Card (I should use my $500 in rewards points one day).
And the fun starts.
The credit card screen has a survey question on it. A blue screen with white font and 5 choices. The quesiton was something to the effect of:
“How would you rate your shopping experience at this K-Mart?”
The choices ranged from “5” which was something nostalgic and beautiful that made me think that in order to push it I’d want to rent out the building for a wedding reception (not that I’m getting married this week or next). Choice “2” or “3” was something in the middle was something that made me think that I’d pick it if it was worth the trip. 1 Was something like, “I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends.” I looked for the cancel screen because I don’t my purchases held hostage in exchange for giving them my opinion. So I ask the cashier:
“I have to answer this question before I buy anything?”
“You can push the cancel button if you want.”
Which of course is not an option on the screen with the rest of the choices. It’s below on the terminal. I found an easier way to cancel out of the screen:
I pushed #1.
Why I pushed #1, “I would not recommend…”
The reason I pushed #1 is simple: if you’re going to hold my purchase hostage and pull and old Direct Response trick so I believe I HAVE to answer the question, then I’m going to give you a negative answer. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
K-Mart, You Don’t Need a Survey To Know What’s Wrong
For starters, a survey like that is only going to hurt my customer experience. Unless K-Mart has been living under a rock, they shouldn’t need a survey to know what to do. Go do a couple more mystery shopping trips to Wal-Mart & Target and believe that everything they’re doing is awesome. Put your fraternal sobbery aside for a few minutes;
What I’d Change at the Valparaiso K-Mart in Order to Go Back:
1) Put in the damned automated checkout lines. Even the local grocery stores have them now. It’ll save on time and line waits and gives shoppers the control. People like me who have three items and don’t want to wait for $2.99 price checks by shoppers who also would have been using the automated lines would have made it easier.
2) Put the printer paper next to the printers. Who puts printer paper in the hand-written stationary section? You have the printers there. You have the ink there. I don’t want to have to walk through the store to find it. Y’all already put electronics in the back to make me walk through the stores. Wal-Mart has that kind of logic control. So does Target. Try it. And if you really want to go crazy, put it in BOTH SPOTS!
3) Turn on the damned lights. This is the case study they teach us in undergrad marketing classes. A brighter store looks like a cleaner store. Right now, the store has dim lighting and doesn’t look as clean. Dimmed lighting only works at fancy restaurants and this coffee house I’m in. So unless your stores are going to run with brick, lofty environment, pump classic Dylan on the sound systems and serve paninis with gourmet coffee, you might want the white walls and white shelves to look…white! I want to take a shower when I’m done shopping there.
4) Play better music: Try the oldies. Try coffee house music. Try putting the two together. Blackbird Cafe & Cornucopia in Valpo have great selections. Spend and afternoon or to in them. You’ll learn something.
Who’s with me?
Maybe next time they won’t make a simple shopping experience so convoluted and painful.