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Missed Opportunities

Several friends of mine recommended that I watch the program "Drop Dead Diva" (A new Lifetime series featuring Deb Dobson, an aspiring model who begs to return to earth after being killed in a car crash. Deb gets her wish, but is horrified to be brought back to life in the body of an intelligent, overweight lawyer named Jane Bingum.) They told me the show was smart and funny, so I programmed it into my DVR. I watched my first episode the other day entitled "The Dress." The protagonist, Jane was unable to get a dress because the store had decided that they didn’t want to sell to "Plus Sized Women" (even though this segment of the market represented the majority of the buying populace). It was a great episode.

That probably would be the end of my story, but....

I recently had my own "Drop Dead Diva" moment. I was shopping for a new suit for a special event at an organization where I serve as a volunteer. Since I have lost a lot of weight recently, I thought it would be a nice idea to treat myself to something new, so I headed to Banana Republic. As I was searching through the racks of clothing, I noticed that the largest size was a 44 regular. Now, I am almost a 44 regular, but it’s still a little tight. I asked the sales associate if they had anything larger. The answer was, "No. If you want something larger, you’ll have to shop online." Wow, that was discouraging. The sale associate was informative, but I also felt that he wasn’t really interested in helping me. Maybe I was also too large for the store? Just like the episode of "The Dress."

Well...the event was in a few days and I don’t like to buy expensive clothes on line since I think it’s important to see how things look when you put them on. Plus, I had procrastinated and needed to get this suit quickly, so Banana Republic was out. I left the store and went to Neiman Marcus, which is of course a more expensive store in the mall. "Out of the frying pan and into the fire," I thought. Will this place be too expensive?

Neiman Marcus (as you can imagine) had a great selection. Many of the clothes were too expensive but the sales associate was fantastic! I told him my budget and how quickly I needed the outfit. He was creative, proactive, and very helpful in suggesting items that could work within my budget... and I did get that new outfit. When I wore it two days later at the event, I have to confess I looked great and what a fun way to celebrate the weight I’ve lost!

But what about Banana Republic? Well, Banana Republic lost a big sale. And I am not sure how willing I’ll be to spend more time in the store. Now, I wonder: How many other people have had the same experience? How many retailers are dropping the "Drop Dead Divas" and losing out on customers, goodwill, and sales? Probably more than they’d like.

What does this have to do with business, service, and you? In the new series with Tom Peters that I have been editing, Tom goes into great lengths to point out the obvious. He tells advertisers to pay attention to people over 50 (as they represent a huge market). He reminds businesses not to ignore women as customers - after all they do represent 51% of the buying population. Maybe Tom should also remind retailers that they should consider being more thoughtful to customers who are taller, larger, or shorter. Maybe stores should be more welcoming of anyone who walks in the door because we all come in different sizes and most of us have money to spend!

Just a thought...

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Tom Peters by Stewart on Sep 24, 2009 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

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