Manage Expectations

Apr 29, 2015 | Kuster Design Blog

The other night I worked late but really needed to make a grocery run on my way home.  I pulled into the parking lot and walked up to the front door where the signage clearly said, “Open Daily Til 11:00 p.m.”  “Cool,” I thought.  “There’s no rush.”
Well, my first stop was in the produce section where most of the items I guess had been put to bed for the night.  There were blankets spread over almost all of the fresh produce, basically indicating the section was closed.  Who knew that produce needed to sleep at night?
I’d thought about fixing myself a salad at the salad bar, but from previous experience I knew that it closed at 7:00 p.m.  Of course, from previous trips I also knew that the staff tended to shut the salad bar down and clear things away starting at about 6:15 p.m.  I’ve been there at 6:30 p.m. before only to find the entire salad bar shut-down.
I found my yogurt and other items that I needed (minus apples as they’d been put to bed), and headed for the register to check-out.  As I approached I could see that there was only one lane with an open light on.  There were two people in line ahead of me, both with full carts.  I could see that there was a cashier in the lane next to me, but she was cashing out her register and as I was waiting the manager came and collected her cash drawer.
During the time I was waiting three more people with full carts came up and got in line behind me.  There were now six people in line and only a single register open.  What is the point of proudly proclaiming the store is open until 11:00 p.m. daily if in reality everything is shut-down and most of the staff sent home three hours before that?  Obviously, there were still plenty of people shopping at 8:00 p.m. on a weeknight.  In crafting a customer experience a key part is to manage expectations.  Having proclaimed their hours I expected a full shopping experience three hours before closing.  Perhaps the signage should read, “We close at 7:00 p.m., but offer limited late-night shopping until 11:00 p.m.”  At least this would be more honest and less frustrating to the consumer.