A common sight in malls all over the world is the benches. Sometimes they’re works of art, made to resemble things or done in such a way as to match the theme or décor of the mall. Other times they’re more functional, made of plastic or wood, set up to serve a purpose for the weary shopper. Still other times they’re strategically placed so that people waiting for the movies or a restaurant have a place to sit down. Whatever the reason and however they’re designed, mall benches are a much-needed fixture in malls all over the world. I have been lucky enough to live in countries where malls are plentiful and my salary has allowed me a little comfort to do some shopping. I have not been lucky enough, however, to always live in places with rest areas in those malls.
Now, enter Asian malls. Asian malls are designed with commerce in mind. They are designed to make money and to get the consumers to buy as much as they can. Asian malls have very sparse, if any, places for the weary consumer to rest during the shopping trip. There are very few benches, or public rest areas in Asian malls because, as they think, a moving consumer is a buying consumer. These malls do have a plethora of cafes and restaurants where people can sit down, but in order to sit there, they must buy something to eat or drink…..ah, the capitalistic mind of the Asian….always thinking about how to make money.
The loss of public rest areas in Asian malls is a loss of customer service. Customer service is not something that’s done well in Asia. Many is the time I came upon the gruff waiter in a restaurant, or the apathetic salesclerk at the supermarket. This lack of customer service is what’s making people from the west spend less money in Asia. We westerners value our customer service, and little things go a long way. Give us some benches and we will sit. We will consider coming back to that mall again and again because we now identify it as a place that cares about its customers.
Unfortunately, fewer Asian malls and shopping plazas see it this way. They want the customer to keep moving so they will buy more and more. In reality, this has the opposite effect. When customers get tired and there is nowhere for them to rest, they are going to leave. They will go sit in the car on the ride home, or the Metro or the bus. It’s just bad business not to think about the level of strain and stress on the customer and to try to take them for all they’ve got!