Big Brand Apathy

Author: Stephanie Bradshaw

Shouldn’t we expect the iconic Australian Department Stores to get a little more than a face-lift?

In the sea of wonderful new ways to shop and exciting new international offerings I still find myself occasionally in the Jurassic halls of “the department store.” Tumbleweeds could be drifting by, that’s the atmosphere preceding the cold stares from bored staff members that seem to feel it acceptable to disappear when I need help. In fact my clean black work attire attracts other desperate shoppers, “Excuse me, do you work here?” Fortunately but apologetically …”No, I do not.”

I find it appalling that a brand would choose to be so lackadaisical. Retail is big business and (famously) customers are turning away from traditional shopping methods. With shiny new halls and impressive new ways to pay, one wonders why the most important part of a physical shopping touch point – the living element, the staff – are not satisfactorily completing the brand experience?

The big stores may blame unionism, an aging workforce, tough financial times; BUT… a few years ago I read an article out of the U.S. Some CEO of a big brand agency had commented, “it takes two weeks for your staff to start treating your customers the same way you are treating them.”

Giving your staff a little love doesn’t seem that hard, does it?

One would think the big Australian Department Stores could make the most of the things they do have. Real estate, a loyal (if diminishing) customer base and the one thing on-line shopping doesn’t have, face to face contact with their customers! Isn’t improving customer service, the live retail experience – the easiest way to stop being so…um, Jurassic? I’m afraid to say, unless they do something to improve service, we will not be finding wonderful.

So, to the not-so-lovely-lady in the cosmetics department, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt. Let’s hope management can give your store a little more than a face-lift and inject some customer service substance in the future.

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