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Party Line: Retail Rain Check

I’m at the grocery store at least four or five times a week. There’s one in particular that I always frequent, and despite the fact that it’s a rather large local chain, many of the employees know me by name and I can count on the service I’ll get.
 
However, I occasionally shop at another store if something I want is on sale, which was recently the case. When I went to the store — coupon in hand — I found that every single container of the variety of product I wanted was at least a week past the expiration date.
 
Seeing as both the coupon and the ad expired the next day, I asked an employee if I could have a rain check. His reply? “Can’t you just pick a different flavor or brand instead?”
 
I could go into my explanation of why I couldn’t just pick a different flavor or brand instead, but that is neither here nor there and a lengthy conversation that the employee probably wishes he never had to have.
 
My point is that that’s not customer service, that’s not putting the customer first and that’s not the kind of response that encourages me to go back to the store for my shopping. Instead of simply solving the problem with a rain check, that employee created another one — and an even more frustrated customer.
 
As retailers, it’s up to you to go out of your way for a customer, regardless of whether or not it’s convenient. While finding that superhero mask in the back might take you a few extra minutes, the fact that you solved a problem for the customer who requested the mask will garner you not only the sale, but also good will.
 
And with such a competitive market out there — and the craziness of Halloween up ahead — “Can’t you just pick a different flavor or brand instead” can easily be translated to that customer as “Can’t you just pick a different store instead?”
 
They can, and they will.

 

Originally posted Monday, Aug. 20, 2012