The outcome in grocery shopping is to get groceries desired as conveniently as possible, but that’s not the final memory the customer has of the experience. Ever gotten home and discovered two eggs were cracked? Or have a bloody cut of meat soil the birthday card you bought for Aunt Molly? Too often the grocery store is in the mix of negative thoughts associated with the “outcome after the outcome.”

Nordstrom is famous for pursuing the “outcome after the outcome” effect. “We try to guess what is beyond our customer’s purchase,” says John McClesky of the men’s suits department at their Dallas store. “If a customer buys a sports jacket, the obvious extension might be a tie. But if you learn the customer is buying the jacket for a cruise, you might explore an ascot or Panama hat.”

I was in the Nordstrom Charlotte store and purchased a sports jacket that required alteration. The seamstress agreed to make the minor adjustments and mail the jacket to me since I live in another state. When the jacket arrived, she had placed in the pocket a package of complimentary collar stays for my dress shirts! It made me reflect on the entire buying experience with a smile.

Play out in your mind the possibilities of what customers will be doing, thinking, and feeling after you have met the customers’ presented needs. What small gesture would make customers swoon? What service souvenir might extend their positive experience?

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