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Scott McKain

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Here’s a clue…

A Customer Experience at its Finest

On Saturday at Indianapolis’ upscale mall — Fashion Mall at Keystone — the Apple Store was its usual self. Elbow to elbow as people tested the new iPad, asked questions about the coming iPhone, got assistance from the Genius Bar, and purchased Macs in record numbers.

On the other side of the mall, however, it was an entirely different story.

Workers at the Sony Style store were trumpeting their discounts. Because, the next day, the store was closing its doors for good.

Stepping inside, a rap video was blaring as the artist was dropping F-bombs profusely in the song. I saw two sets of parents with kids walk in…hear the profanity…and turn on their heels and quickly depart.

Store employees were sitting in the back. Finally, one shouts toward the front, “Hey! Let us know if you need something.”

A customer experience at its finest.

Did the employees always act that way at Sony Style? No, of course not. And, I guess there isn’t a motivation for them to provide a modicum of customer service now.

(Well, other than being a good person sincerely interested in others. But, that’s probably too much to ask.)

But, as I continued to stroll the mall, I couldn’t get the question out of my head: Why can’t other companies “get it” like Apple?

Sure, Sony has “jumped the shark” when it comes to products. Their computers, while stylish, have way too much “bloatware” for me. Their phones are not intuitive. iPods killed the Walkman…because Sony went lax on innovation.

However, the “feel” of the store…and the conduct of the employees…were also way below the standards of other shops in the same mall. Apple treats you great…Tiffany is around the corner…Starbucks smiles and makes your drink…then Sony is going to look down on you?

One kid working in the Sony Style store told me the place was closing “because of the economy.”

“No, it isn’t,” I told him. Before I had the chance to explain — if it the reason was truly the economy, then the Apple store would be empty, too — he snorted and said, “You know more about why my store is closing than I do? Yeah…right.”

“You’re right,” I responded, “my bad.” I walked out…never to return to that — or any other — Sony Style store ever again.

If I would have been more willing…if I would have had the time or inclination…if I had said what I later realize I should have…here’s what I should have told him:

“If your competition is busy…and you are not…here is a clue: It’s NOT the economy causing your problem.”

True for Sony…and you and me, as well.

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More Stories By Scott McKain

Scott McKain is a business leader, bestselling author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker.
Scott's latest book, "The Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails" reached the #1 spot on list of Customer Service Bestsellers! He is the author of two #1 additional business bestsellers ( & 800-CEO-READ): "What Customers REALLY Want" (currently available in trade paperback) and "ALL Business is Show Business."
He is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty, and has appeared on multiple occasions as a commentator and analyst on FOX News Channel. His platform presentations have run the gamut from the White House lawn with the President in the audience carried live on CNN and NBC's "Today" a remote outpost near the Amazon...all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces...and from Singapore to Sweden...Mexico to Morocco.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he is also a member of "Speakers Roundtable" -- an elite, invitation-only group of twenty of the world's top business speakers.