Customer experience and customer satisfaction are said to be critical to ecommerce and brick and mortar shopping success, and of course its often the most neglected area of concern.

I like to shop online, especially at Christmas. It’s a little tradition I have because I love watching the UPS guy bringing boxes to the house. The tease of it drives the kids crazy. (An entertainment for parents that is well worth the shipping costs!)

In the Spring, I start re-supplying my gardening stuff and running to Wal-Mart for cheap deals on mulch and home maintenance projects like this year’s brilliant idea to replace the zillions of little white stones around the in-ground pool with flat patio stones. We weren’t sure what the heck we were doing but Eric took measurements and we guessed at how many 16″ tiles would fit the space we were creating.

Cash Register Experience and Trust – Case One

The lady at the outdoor cash register had some trouble looking up the price, so together we bent over her sheet of codes to scan and in a brief, friendly give and take, agreed on one to try. She rang it up and the price was as I remembered it to be. She only took cash or credit cards, no checks or debit cards, so I paid her in cash and we drove away happily with our first load of patio tiles.

Cash Register Experience and Trust – Case Two

Needing more, and having a better idea how many would fit into my car without killing it, we returned to Wal-Mart for more pieces the following weekend.

This time, the man at the register had the same sheet of paper with information to scan, but he couldn’t decide on the correct code (even when I told him the number to look up), and refused to listen to my suggestion for where it was located. Having experienced Wal-Mart service many times, and knowing better, I had brought my receipt from the first trip with me. I offered it to him to use, because it had the right code. He hemmed and hawed, not sure whether to trust me. When he finally punched in the numbers, everything matched the information from my first sales receipt. Then, he said, “We only accept cash or credit.”

To which I said, “I know. I’ve been in this line before and knew beforehand to stop and “tap mac” to get cash to bring.”

I should have never said this!

Despite the very long line of customers behind me, the man at the register shouts, “Oh, you HAD to tell me that didn’t you!” (Me and the lady behind me exchange “What the heck?” looks.) “We were told there’s bad twenties going around from the Mac machines and now I have do this to all your money first!” and he proceeds to whip out some highlighter thing and marks off eight brand new $20 bills, muttering to himself, again, that I should never have mentioned I just went to get the cash.

I glanced and giggled at the shocked lady behind me and said, “That’s it. I’m never buying stuff with cash again.” And we both rolled our eyes.

For those of you reading this outside America, yes. Things have gotten really weird over here lately.

Avoid “The Experience”. Buy Online

Click & Order or Brick & Mortar? caught my eye because it said that “A significant number of online shoppers felt there was no substitute for understanding products through sensory evaluation (54 percent).”

I like the sensory experience too. Especially springtime, in gigantic garden centers at discount stores with crazed, maniac employees.

It also claimned, “Shoppers also said it was easier to discover new products by browsing in a store (48 percent) and to get customer assistance in person (40 percent).”

Define the words “customer assistance”, please.

I’ve heard of shopping online from a store’s web site and then going to their physical store to make the purchase.

I wonder how many people are chased to the Internet by lousy brick and mortar experiences?

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Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)