A Valentine’s Day Customer Experience Conundrum

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Like most couple therapists, I usually spend the week following Valentine’s Day listening to tales of romantic evenings gone very wrong. Far too often, what should have been an evening full of romance and sex turns into an evening full of disappointment, hurt feelings and arguing. More often than not, despite men’s good intentions, the gift was to blame.

In an effort to minimize the damage this year, I posted the Men’s Guide for Crossing the Valentine’s Day Minefield on my blog on Psychology Today.

But let’s examine the situation from a different perspective. Is it possible to solve this problem at its source? More specifically, should female sales and customer service representatives intervene if they witness a man about to purchase an obviously terrible gift for Valentine’s Day?

Let’s illustrate the complexity of the issue with an example: It’s Sunday, February 13. A man walks into a mall looking for a Valentine’s Day gift. Earlier that day he asked his wife what he could get her for Valentine’s Day but she seemed slightly put off by the question. The man reached that conclusion because she scowled and walked away without answering. So he’s at the mall, hoping that something will grab his eye.

The man passes a bookstore and remembers his wife loves self-help and diet books. He picks up two new diet books and a self-help book titled The Squeaky Wheel because it looks fun and his wife loves complaining. He takes the books to the female sales associate behind the counter and says, “Could you wrap these for Valentine’s Day? And I’ll also take that card with two pigs kissing on a heart shaped rug. My wife loves animals!”

There are several customer service and customer experience questions this raises: For the sake of argument, let’s assume whatever the sales associate says would be said delicately and with tact.

1. Should the sales associate speak up and warn the man about his gift choices?
2. Would men appreciate similar warnings/advice or would they be insulted?
3. Could such warnings increase customer loyalty, harm it?
4. Would stores benefit from having a Valentine’s Day customer service pledge: Shop with us and be worry free! Our female associates will make sure you find the right Valentine’s Day gift!

Feel free to weigh in with your comments and thoughts.

And for those readers who are wondering, “What was wrong with getting her books she likes in the first place? Besides, pigs are adorable!” please read the following list.

Five Facts about Valentine’s Day Gifts Every Man Should Know
1. Lingerie is a gift for you not for her.
2. Not everything with red hearts on it is romantic.
3. Chocolates and helium balloons are okay if you’re both in grade school, not otherwise.
4. No, not any red flower will do. Stick to roses.
5. Self-improvement gifts are insulting.

Copyright 2011 Guy Winch

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