Head or heart – it’s the same thing!

As I travel the world championing customer centricity I have a policy not to dish the dirt on specific companies and I’m not going to break this rule for the David Jones department Store in Sydney!

But what I am going to do is explain in ‘bean-counter’ terms why ‘head’ things are the absolute entry level for customer service and fundamentally the same as ‘heart’ things when it comes to being chosen by customers.

Those who have heard me bang-on about ‘winning’ being all about emotional edge, relentless relevance and deliberate difference in my workshops and lectures will know I passionately believe modern business success is all about being chosen through an emotional connection with customers – but I do sometimes see a glazed look or two in my audiences when it comes to these touchy, feely, things….so lets look at customers from the other end of the telescope – the rational (head) decisions they're asked to make and see where this takes us....it isn't sophisticated thinking but serves a purpose and uses numbers, so that'll appeal to some.

Let me talk about my lonely battle with 100 buttons.

The average men’s casual shirt has up to 10 buttons when you include front, button-down collar and cuffs. On my recent Sydney shopping mission to a department store closest to my CBD hotel (rational decision because I wasn't motivated to seek my favourite store) I personally managed to find (all on my own without any assistance) just the casual shirt I was looking for. And in my usual size. Proud of myself, I grabbed the shirt and unbuttoned it on my way to the changing rooms exotically and economically tucked behind Calvin Klein's self service underwear and strewn with coat hangers. I unbuttoned my own shirt and put the new shirt on and buttoned it up. For those of you interested in sums, that’s 30 shirt buttons I’d either done up, or undone.

Unfortunately the shirt I’d chosen was a bit tight. So I unbuttoned it and put my old shirt back on and….yes buttoned it up. Found the larger size shirt and unbuttoned it as I made my way back to the changing room, took my own shirt off and buttoned up the new shirt….again for the numerically gifted that’s a running total approaching 80 buttons either done up or undone.

Now I really liked this new shirt and wanted to keep it on but like the good customer I am, I had read the apocalyptic warnings about exploding ink dyes if I tampered with my new shirt, so I unbuttoned it and put my own shirt back on with fingers I’m sure were bleeding.

That’s a grand total nearing 100 buttons to buy one shirt….what bit of that sounds easy, fast or a fitting tribute to something promising to make me cool (sorry that’s emotional, so forget I said that). Critically what bit of that makes it easy for me to buy another shirt while in the mood, what bit of that makes me look forward to coming back?

And probably most fundamentally: what part of my (hopefully one-off) Friday afternoon shopping experience satisfies the ‘purpose’ of department stores – to encourage multiple purchases - actually, sorry, the purpose of a department store is to encourage ‘linked’ multiple purchases.

So I have only one thing to say to leaders who think fundamental service isn’t important to the physical shopping expedition, to leaders who fail to understand the simplest, most rational needs of their customers and instead complain about unfair pricing of internet shopping, the global financial crisis or the cost of high minimum wages…….



  1. Martin, this article is really on the button.

    Jokes aside, you make some excellent observations, as usual. Why oh why do some supposedly smart retailers make the experience so difficult.... and then complain about internet shopping eating into their profits?



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