Debbie Mayo-Smith international inspirational motivational how-to speaker technology, time management, improving business performance
Motivational Speakers, Sales, Marketing, Time Management, Productivity, Technology, Tips

It's the little things that count and revenge is sweet

You have no business if you have no customers. And to customers it's often the little, inexpensive things that matter most.

This simple truth was highlighted in the repercussions resulting from a fuss I made at my local Pak'N Save supermarket over a petrol voucher three weeks ago. Let me explain why this is important to you, as there are valuable lessons to learn.

If you had six children you'd probably choose to shop at Pak'N Save too, because of price. From experience I've learnt to ask the checkout teller the value of their petrol voucher before we commence. Whereas their competition will have 10c, 15c or even 20c petrol voucher posters adorning every wall, Pak'N Save matches the competition, grudgingly. They do not publicise it. I'll stop the teller at $100, Visa up, and start again to get multiple vouchers for our multiple cars.

That Saturday afternoon I forgot to ask. While pushing two laden trolleys through the door, I scanned the $486.14 receipt and noticed there was a 10c off voucher attached.

You don't sweat the small stuff. But on this particular day my reaction was anger.

Something snapped.

I went to the customer service desk and politely asked the supervisor for an extra few vouchers as "I didn't know it was a 10c day". With a lot of sighs and showing what a pain I was, she gave me one she had in a drawer and said: "Don't you watch TV? You should know that if any of the other grocery stores advertise we match it."

I asked for another. She refused. I asked to see the manager. He said no. I replied: "I have been shopping here for 15 years, spending $300 at least a week. $300 x 52 x 15 - I am a $234,000 customer. I don't plan on moving. Our family is worth at least half a million dollars to you." Again he refused.

So I went home boiling. Wrote a letter to the managing director. He lives close by, so I dropped it off with a copy of my book 101 Quick Tips to Create a Great Customer Experience.

On Monday, the managing director called promising more vouchers. He had asked his manager: "Why didn't you just give her a few more vouchers to keep her quiet and send her on her way happy?" His manager said: "If I did it for her, I'd have to do it for everyone." Two more vouchers came in the mail on Tuesday.

But does the matter end here? No. While at a conference last week, I sat through a session on improving business. Martin Grunstein said: "Business is all about the customers. You have to do two things for your customers. Create empathy. Preserve ego. People go to great lengths for revenge." He hit it on the head! What had my second move been?
Four days after the incident, my online newsletter went out with the story. It really struck me as something to talk about in relation to customer experience. Silly though. It put me in such an unfavourable light. Making a fuss over a coupon worth perhaps $7.50 - plus I was wrong by not following the normal policy of one voucher per shop. Then stupid me asked for email feedback from the readers. Who would have dreamed I would get almost 700 replies?

Points to take home:

Martin was right. Preserve the ego of your customers. Look at the time and effort I put into this episode. The value of one's time could never, ever be compensated for by the vouchers.

The internet changes the power of the negative. Whereas Colmar Brunton New Zealand Research shows that if the customer experience is bad, 80 per cent will tell 13 other people, now the keyboard is mightier than verbal word of mouth. My newsletter distribution is in excess of 20,000. One reader replied that a supervisor in New World Dunedin had heard about the email. This article goes online on Sunday. How many more will forward it?

Your customers do care about good service. While many hit me over the head for being selfish (two even demanding to be taken off the mailing list), the tally is 2.5 to 1 in favour of asking for the extra vouchers and cheering me on. Scores have sent in their own bad service stories.

Carolyn Vernon of Barfoot & Thompson put it best: "Going the extra mile for customer services is invaluable. It doesn't have to be large, it is just being considerate, respectful and adding a smile and/or some value at the end of the day whether that be by an unexpected gift or a small gesture of good human warmth and empathy without being condescending or letting one's ego get in the way. Exceptional customer service benefits the person receiving and the person giving by providing intrinsic satisfaction to the day."

Debbie Mayo-Smith (BSc Hons Econ) is an International Motivational Business Speaker and Managing Director of SuccessIS! ( and a leading specialist in easy practical ways to improve business profitability, personal productivity and Internet marketing. Debbie lives in NZ and travels the world speaking, writing and training. By the way, if you'd like to get lots of neat tricks like this, plus marketing and business development tips, why not enrol for our free newsletter?

This article is copyright to Debbie Mayo-Smith & SuccessIS. You may use it for your newsletter, website or as an article. It can be reproduced - but in its entirety and with inclusion of Debbie Mayo-Smith as the author and the weblink


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