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There are no shortcuts to customer satisfaction

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Last Sunday I was in a place that was rammed. It was heaving, the noise electric and the smell was one of adrenaline filled excitement… I wasn’t part of a football crowd having watched my team win, nor at a  rail station in a rush hour, or even on a budget airline line having just been told that we were all flying for free.  Those dreams were for another day…

No, last Saturday I was at my local Costco, and it was packed with people pushing trolleys that were full to overflowing. The checkouts were 20 to 30 deep and the cashiers looked all done in. “It’s been like this all day’ said my cashier. As I looked across to the pizza bar I saw the queues were there too with families queuing for tables. The place was full of litter and the staff were run off their feet.

A quick look at the shopping baskets confirmed that shoppers were buying bulk essentials and Christmas items by the trolley full. Plasma TV’s, wine and beer fridges, ‘tool time’ toolkits, camera’s, watches and microwaves were being left on the shelf. Food items like grocery’s, fresh produce, ready-made desserts and cakes were flying off the shelves.

The faces of the shoppers told their own story as well. I saw the affluent and the self-employed enjoying the Costco experience as they all made their monthly budgets go further.

Why was I there? I was looking for cheap peanut butter… I know its odd but I needed two ‘max sized jars’ of the stuff for a recipe I had in mind. I never loved Sun Pat so much as I did on Sunday when I saw the price.  My jar of Whole Earth peanut butter has now been removed to my Waitrose wish list.

At the checkouts, as I loaded my goods into my trolley, I realised two things. One: I had spent more than I had wanted too. Two: I had a huge sense of satisfaction.

I realised I had bought into a new behaviour, a vital belief that I had bought a bargain. That 30-foot metal tree I had bought with its own electric lights was going to look great in the back garden on Christmas night. I realised that my tacky American Christmas, full of tasteless lights and gauche tat, had begun. Everywhere I look shoppers had inflatable Santas and 4 foot high wooden statues. I saw trolleys with books, clothes and toys.

As I looked around me I saw that many of those who were looking at their purchases with satisfaction had never stepped inside a Costco before. We were re-evaluating our own buying behaviours, as we smiled at our purchases and metaphorically patted each other on the back for finding fun in face of economic austerity. That’s what Costco offered us all on Sunday.

What are you offering your customers today. How are you satisfying them whilst increasing your profits.

Happy buyer behaviour translates to the bottom line. Don’t believe me? Ask Costco how they have increase sales turnover by 4.6% in the last 12 months across their 22 UK stores.

This is an American store doing rather well over here, by offer it’s members a perceived  ‘discounted shopping experience’ where the goods are basic or bonkers. Now thats a proposition worth smiling about.

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