Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Have you heard the one about the kid in the phone store?

This is not Kelly's child. This is my child. Trapped on an airplane just like Kelly was trapped in a Telstra store. Not happy. You get the picture.

 If only it were a joke. Well, it was a joke, but not a funny one.

I'm talking about my business partner and fellow working mum Kelly who had to spend 40 minutes in a phone store recently with her 2 year old in tow.

Kelly was in there for around 40 minutes while the staff member went about bundling her telephonic services. The two staff members glared at her when her child began playing up after the first half hour. There was nothing to occupy him (except the same old stuff mum carried along in her handbag which, in toddler eyes, was sooooo boring), he had exhausted her snack supplies and the staff showed absolutely no interest in helping her by providing, say, a pen and piece of paper, or an old mobile phone out of the recycling bin or, well, ANYTHING.

And Kelly was trapped. They had gone so far in the bundling process with it's interminable form filling and whatnot, that to leave would mean coming back again for another stressful session. As it was, the staff member forgot a crucial element in the process and Kelly was called back the following week for another 40 minute session in the store. The frustration levels for everyone concerned (staff, customer, child) were ridiculously and unnecessarily high.

Could she have gone to the store without her child? Possibly. But on the days when he is in childcare, Kelly works. Domestic matters like shopping and paying bills and bundling your telecommunications have to happen when you're not at work. Which means taking a toddler with you.

The banks get it. Our client Westpac was the first bank to put in a dedicated play solution. Now most of the banks are doing it in one way or another. They know that over 85% of parents do their shopping with their children and they want to make the banking experience easy and pleasant for those parents. A parent whose child is safely occupied is also more likely to stay longer in the bank and is open to discussions about home loans or financial planning. And what a wonderful customer service initiative!

It's time for the telco stores to follow suit. The research is undeniable. Customers with children prefer to shop in a store where their child is welcome, where their child is safely occupied, where they can conduct their business without stress or glaring looks from staff.

Considering the vast sums the telcos spend on store fitouts, including a compact play solution is a relatively minor investment.

Including a half hour session into the next staff training day on how family friendly customer service practices can help generate additional sales would be of enormous benefit, not only to the customers, but to the staff who would be well-armed with a tool-kit of techniques and much more confident the next time they are faced with a cranky toddler.

Not to mention the store's bottom line. A customer with a contented child is more open to cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.

So come on telcos. What are you waiting for?

Child Friendly Solutions has been assisting Australian retailers with in-store play solutions for 10 years including Big W, K-Mart, Westpac, Toyota and Forty Winks. You can find Child Friendly Solutions Play Panels, Play Tables and other play equipment, as well as lots of information on becoming a child friendly retailer, at