Retail Customer Experience: The Retail Power of Suggestion
By James Bickers, Editor
Through a special arrangement,
presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current
article from Retail Customer Experience, a daily news portal devoted
to helping retailers differentiate the shopping experience.
Just down the road from my house is a great,
locally owned, independent comic book shop that used to be one of my frequent
haunts. Recently I’ve gone back in to reconnect with a hobby that I once
The owner, an unassuming and quiet fellow
named Doug, is there virtually all of the time. He has a deep love for
and knowledge of his product, and is always happy to make suggestions about
what to read next, based on what you’ve previously enjoyed.
Doug does something else that I didn’t notice
at first, a powerful little trick of language: When he’s handing you your
purchase and change, he leaves you with a phrase that, for lack of a better
term, is a command to come back.
He doesn’t say, "Come see us again!" or "Thanks,
please come again!" or any of the common parting shots. No, he says,
confidently, "You’ll be back" or
"You’ll enjoy" or "You’ll come back for more soon!"
It’s a tiny semantic difference, but a major
psychological one. Like I said, I didn’t notice this at first – but
when I bought the first volume of "Queen and Country" and Doug
said "You’ll enjoy that, and be back soon for number two," I
immediately formed a mental picture of myself doing exactly that. About
a week later, that’s precisely what I did.
Notice the level of specificity in his parting
shot. He planted the seed for my next purchase by spelling it out for me.
It’s not some nebulous idea of future business; it’s a description of a
specific product that I’m going to buy in the coming days.
Visualization is one of the cornerstones
of any flavor of self-improvement; it works because the human brain is
so incredibly good at taking the things it sees and carrying out the next
steps needed to make them real. This is precisely why Doug’s method is
so powerful – it paints the brain a picture of the customer’s next
visit, the next purchase, the next satisfying experience.
Fortune favors the brave, and business goes
to the bold. A timid plea of "please, come back and see us" reaches
out for pity, and sometimes that works. Much more effective is a simple
and direct statement of what value the customer received, why they will
want to receive it again, and what they will come back for.
Discussion Question: What do you think about
the "power of suggestion" at retail, especially around product
endorsements and goodbyes? Have you experienced any similar winning suggestive
practices by sales associates at retail? Is there a downside to suggestive