The Art of Gossip and Customer Experience

We have all come to know and learn that the word gossip is a bad word, a lesson instilled in us by the time we were able to speak. Companies shun upon employees who gossip around the water cooler and deem those who do as misfits. But according to Robin Dunbar an evolutionary anthropologist, gossiping can actually act as a form of bonding among society. It got me thinking, what’s the distinctive component that makes for part of an unforgettable customer experience.

When I reflected back on some of the most interesting experiences I had as a customer myself, were when the sales people participated in some form of gossip. On my recent trip to a well-known national pet store chain, I found myself in a long half-hour conversation with one of their managers we’ll call him ‘Martin’. The more Martin and I spoke the longer I wanted to stay in the store. My intention was to bring my fur baby (dog-child) into the store, let him sniff around, play with toys I won’t buy, swat at the big dogs coming in and leave.

Usually, I’m not the one for chit chat, especially since I don’t watch the news or follow any kind of celebrity updates. Martin and I actually didn’t talk about any of that. Our conversation was spent on talking about pets, good food for pets, holiday pet toys that were going on sale and the company’s new owners. In that moment he became a viable expert in pet products.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: What is going on that you guys are already putting out Halloween pet toys?

Martin: We always sell out of holiday stuff the week of the holiday so this year the company wanted to get the ball rolling earlier.

Me: But July is kinda early? No?

Martin: I’m going to tell you something not a lot of people know. The company was newly acquired by a Canadian company and they have an aggressive marketing plan now. We are looking to make as many sales as possible before we have to discount all the products the week of Halloween. 

Me: So what else are they changing in the future?

Martin: They are looking to discontinue the sale of certain dog food brands and possibly raising the prices as well.

Me: Really?

Martin: I see you are buying brand ABC for your pet, don’t worry we aren’t looking to stop selling your brand.

Notice how Martin gives me new information which I never knew about, then gives me updates on what the company is doing. He not only shows that he is engaged in our conversation, listens to what I have to say but has now positioned himself as the expert in the product(s) he is selling. The other thing that Martin did very well was he made me feel like I was just let in on a secret when he tells me something that not many people know.

When I leave the store I end up buying another bag of dog food that I didn’t really need and the cashier said something interesting to me, “You know a lot of customers come in to look for Martin and when we tell them he’s not here the customers literally walk out the door.” It didn’t surprise me because I knew that any customer who spoke to Martin felt his confidence and appreciated his expertise.

The next time we want to create an unforgettable customer experience remember that a little bit of gossip can go a long way. When I say gossip, I don’t mean celebrity dramas or super-charged world news. In fact share with customers new information about your product, become the expert. Believe me, it’s worth it because this is the foundation for creating an irresistible customer experience.

Guest contributor: Connie