How was your Black Friday shopping experience?

Being the marketing nerd that I am, I can't resist the urge to visit a few stores on Black Friday. The experience in each store varies widely, and often in interesting ways.

You can learn a lot about a business, its leadership, and its values by watching the staff work with customers during the holiday season. I'll recount an experience I had on Black Friday.

A certain nameless big box store was having an incredible deal on 4k Ultra HD TVs. Hey, I'm a guy and everyone knows guys love a good TV. In fact, men are always in the market for a TV, even if we already have one. I suspect there's a deep ceded biological attraction to large TVs, but I haven't researched the science of it yet.

My amazing wife saw the deal and wanted to surprise the house with the new TV. So, her and her mom went to the store and arrived back with the TV. The kids and I were ecstatic! As we unboxed the TV we noticed that it was damaged, though. The bottom left corner was destroyed and the TV was unusable.

So, the next chapter in this saga was an exchange of the TV. Fortunately there was one left, and she was able to get the TV back home where we unboxed yet another damaged TV with the same corner smashed to bits (I'm guessing a forklift driver somewhere along the line had a stern talking to).

So, we give up on the offer for the TV only to discover that the same TV is still on sale at the same store a week later (on Black Friday). So we inquire about it, and they're out of inventory.

As I'm retelling the story of our first two attempts to the big box store clerk, the gentleman asked med to stay put and briefly excused himself. He came back to me with a gift card for $20 and the promise to price match a better TV they had in inventory to the lower provide of the one I attempted to purchase twice.

It is so unusual for a big box to quickly and effectively solve a customer's problem. They have rules to abide by, chain of command with management and corporate, etc. The result is that it's quite hard to deviate from what the suits in corporate want to do, and the lack of flexibility can be difficult for workers at the retail level. I don't know if the store associate who worked on my behalf had special corporate authority, if the exhaustion of the Black Friday marathon had worn someone down, or what happened behind the scenes. All I know is that I had a bad experience, then gave the business another chance and the business didn't merely satisfy me as a customer they delighted me.

The point?

Every time you do business -- no matter what type of business you have -- you have an opportunity to establish a relationship or complete a transaction. The experience controls the outcome. If you want to be seen as a transaction type of business, get people in and out of there as quickly as possible.

That's a great short-term strategy. But if you want to have a business that becomes a legacy, build it on relationships. Create the ability for anyone to solve a customer problem in your business at any time. A

sk yourself two crucial questions this holiday season as you're out and about, subjecting yourself to the holiday retail experience.

1. What experience are you trying to create for your customers?

2. Is your business designed to engineer that experience?

Make no mistake, the experience you create as a business is every bit as important as the quality of your website and all of your other marketing materials.

Each element has a role to play in driving traffic to your business and delivery what your customer wants once they're engaged.

Take some time this holiday season to think about the experience you've created in your business, and the one you want to have.

Then make your New Year's Resolution to build the experience you want!

Josh Gordon is an award-winning marketing communications professional and President of Full Spectrum Marketing, a full-service advertising agency with digital roots based in Kent, Ohio and Wooster, Ohio. You can reach Josh at jgordon@fullspectrummarketing.com.