I used to love GAP. Mainly because their sales staff were always prepared to bring you dozens of different jeans to try on until you found one that fit. When your body shape is tricky (little waist but curvy hips), that kind of customer service makes a big difference and GAP became my first port of call for denim.
I’m 99% sure this exemplary customer service was because the staff were on some kind of a bonus scheme based on being name checked at checkout in answer to “has anyone helped you today?” It was certainly being logged on the tills.
Then maybe two years ago something changed. Getting any kind of assistance on the shop floor or in the changing room suddenly required an eagle eye and determination not to be fobbed off, ignored or redirected. Except at the tills, where the staff were now concentrating all their smiliest efforts on getting customers signed up to their email database, giving me a fair idea of exactly where the staff bonus scheme had been redirected.
It looks like Gap’s recent instore marketing materials haven’t been thought through either. I’ve tweeted several examples of not-great GAP signage I’ve spotted recently, including this one which obviously hadn’t been tweaked for the UK market:
I now darken GAP’s doors a couple of times a year to stock up on their black work trousers that miraculously seem to fit me, while playing the exciting game ‘how many staff members can fail to make eye contact while you try to buy something’. So bar a couple of pairs of essential oh-my-god-they-actually-fit trousers a year, sorry GAP, but I’m out.
A store can only get it so wrong, for so long before the target audience walks away. The brand reported last month that sales across its international markets fell 13 per cent year-on-year in the five week period ending October 1st 2011.