14 January 2009

Don’t lose a good customer over a few cents

Losing a customer over a few cents is such a waste that it is hard to believe that it happens. Unfortunately it does happen, and it happens a lot. When running your own business so much time is spent trying to attract new customers that you need to be certain that your not losing customers unnecessarily.

I recently hired a DVD at the local video shop. When I arrived home it was late at night and I decided that I would curl up in front of the television and watch the movie.  I opened the box and found out that they had put the wrong DVD in the case. Thoroughly disgusted I went to bed and the next day I returned the movie asking for a refund. A very gruff and very young lady served me and she stated that I should have rung them immediately to say that the movie was the wrong one. Why I should have done this I am not sure but apparently it was “store policy”. She said that they would have to charge me for the movie because I could have watched it (so now I am a liar as well as a difficult customer).

This went on for a while and finally I pointed out the fact that it would have made no difference whatsoever if I rang the night before because I most certainly was not going to get in my car and drive back to the video store in the middle of the night to change the movie that they had got wrong in the first place. With more huffing and puffing I was finally asked what it was I expected her to do.

I said that I don’t want to pay for the wrong movie. She grudgingly accepted this, we glared at each other and I snarled a little. Then I asked her to look up my record to see how many videos I had hired since being a member. With some more huffing and puffing she complied and told me that I had rented over 1000 videos (obviously too much time on my hands). This equated to almost $6000 in video hire charges and goodness knows how many drinks and packets of late night chips. I vowed never to return to that business and I haven’t.

So instead of apologising, giving me a free video hire and generally placating an upset customer one shop assistant has cost that business a good customers.  Where is the logic in this? I don’t even blame the girl that served me –  I blame the business manager for having such regimented and clearly ridiculous rules. 

There are many businesses out there losing customers every day because of the “rules” that don’t allow for logic. We all need to be careful about upsetting customers and more importantly losing them because of silly rules. I see this happening a lot and now more than ever, we need to do what we can to keep our customers most importantly keep them happy. 

Don’t lose perspective of the long term value of your customers and if there is a showdown over a few lousy cents be prepared to compromise. 

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