Recently I was in a local drugstore buying some cough drops. The kind I wanted had some sort of ingredient that is closely controlled by the law. When I took them to the counter, the cashier scanned them and then asked for my birthdate. Then we had this conversation:
Me: “What do you need my birthdate for?”
Cashier: “Because the system is asking for it.”
Me: “But why? What is the relevance to my birthdate to cough drops?”
Cashier: “I really don’t know. Something to do with an active ingredient.”
Me: “Oh, ok, no problem.”
I give her my birthdate. Then,
Me: “oh, is it like cigarettes in that you have to be a certain age?”
Cashier: “we don’t sell cigarettes.”
I completed my purchase and left, a little dumbfounded by our conversation. She couldn’t explain to me why she needed my birthdate, and when I tried to draw an analogy, she got lost.
Why am I positing this? Well, it’s because it’s important to understand that marketing is not performed solely by the marketing department. It should permeate the whole organization, and especially any employees who communicate directly with customers. When an exchange like above happens, it could lead customers to question the competence of the organization.
So, if you have front line employees, be sure that they are well versed in how to effectively communicate with customers. But this goes above and beyond being polite….they must also be knowledgeable on company policies, products, etc. Informed employees are a key marketing asset. If they aren’t informed, it doesn’t inspire much confidence in customers.