Last night we decided to have dinner at Panera Bread. We placed our order and presented our credit card for payment. The cashier swiped it and waited, nothing happened so she tried another machine. At the same time a second cashier was going through the same gyrations with another customer's credit card. They kept getting a "com error" message, which meant their credit card machine was not communicating with whatever company it's supposed to connect with. Their system was completely down. The manager came out, tried a few times, and finally announced that the store could not accept credit cards. Cash only. More than half of the people in line left the store.
This is not the first time we have encountered technology glitches. We remember shopping at a SEARS Hardware store right after it opened and found an entire section of product covered with masking tape, indicating that it was not for sale. When we asked why, we were told that the buyer had not yet added that merchandise to the POS system so the store was not allowed to sell it. Not allowed to sell it?! We're sure that most retailers we know would take the customers money and give them change from a cigar box if that's what it took to save the sale.
Positive word of mouth is the biggest thing that brings new customers to your business. And negative word of mouth can hurt your store big time. If your technology suddenly let you down what would YOU do to save the save and sooth the customer? What should you do? If you rely heavily on technology then you'd better have a contingency plan in place -- a contingency plan that every, single person in your store knows how to use.
Don't you think?
And by the way, we've experienced technology hiccups, too. The lights once went out right in the middle of a seminar. The slides disappeared and the only light was a glow from the exit sign above the door. We just kept on talking until the lights came back on about fifteen minutes later. Whatta gonna do?