Recession Pants

Part of our Customer Service Hero, Zero, or Nero series.
Zeroes seemed to have just stopped trying.

I like Dockers pants.  They are easy to find, and their sizes are reliable and fit me well.  I'm a particular fan of their "Golf Pant" – not because I play golf, but because they have a few bonuses I like: a 'shirt-gripper' waistband (to keep shirts tucked in) and extra interior pockets (to keep my stuff easy-to-find).  Also, I don't have to iron them — a big time-saver.

So I visited a store earlier this week to look for them.  But the Dockers section had a lot of new, unfamiliar names for their pants: 'The Broker Chino' and 'The Lincoln Pant'.  The Golf Pant was nowhere to be found…

I was in a hurry, so I grabbed the ones which looked closest to the style I liked: The Lincoln Pant.  Same price, same style.  Just a different name…

Or so I thought.

The next morning, I put these pants on, and noticed to my annoyance that the shirt-gripper was missing.  My brain was filled with images of me constantly stuffing my shirts back into the back of my pants.

Then I went to load my stuff: change, cell phone, pens, glasses case, cash, and such.  No interior pockets, so all my stuff was swimming in there together.  Plus, the pockets aren't as deep as they used to be.  Another annoyance, especially when I'm driving or sitting and stuff spills out of my pockets.

It seems that the Lincoln pants are a recession version of the Golf pants: All style, no substance.  By skimping on a few square inches of cloth and that little rubbery strip around the waist, the pants have lost most of what made them worth buying in the first place. 

Lessons for Business
Times are tough for a lot of businesses, and the desire for cost-cutting is understandable.

But when a business chooses to scrimp on the very things their customers value, they make things even tougher for themselves.  Ultimately, such businesses wither as customers see no particular reason to patronize them.

Did Dockers offend me?  No.  I bought a decent (but not special) pair of pants.  But by charging the same price for a blander product, they did create a Zero experience and gave me the impression that they just stopped trying to meet my needs.

So, by saving costs on these "recession pants", Dockers will likely lose a customer.  That's a steep price for the few pennies saved.

What if, instead, Dockers had leaned into the recession winds, and invested a few extra cents?  Maybe heavier cloth, more pockets, or some cool innovation.  What if they had chosen to stand out from all of the competitors who also cut costs?  What if they treated the recession as an opportunity to grow, rather than a threat requiring fiscal tightening?  What if they had chosen to change things instead of being changed by them?

It might have cost them a little more in these hard times, but it would have increased my devotion to their brand, perhaps for several years.

What is that worth?

[where: 1988 Pavilion Way, Lexington, KY 40509]

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