I ran across an interesting situation the other day. My son received the 5th Harry Potter book as a Christmas gift. Since he is currently reading that book, I took it back to exchange it at a large local bookseller for the 6th book in the series. I had the receipt that showed the book cost $9.99 but was on sale for 25% off. I took the new book, the book I wanted to return, and the receipt to the cashier. She then informed me that I would need to pay the balance of $2.53. I asked her why that would be, since the value of the new book was $9.99, as indicated on the sticker, the same as the book I was exchanging it for. She explained that the new book was not on sale and that the store would be losing money. I showed her that the books were in the same series, the same original price. It should be an even exchange. She refused to do so. The woman behind me in line plead my case as well, but to no avail.
So, because this cashier could not see from the customer’s perspective how this was confusing, she managed to collect the $2.53, but has now lost a customer to the store. In a previous blog, I wrote about taking into account the lifetime value of a customer. This book store had the potential to win me over because I am an avid reader, it is a very nice store with a huge selection of books, has a great cafe and sandwich shoppe right inside, and is a nice environment. However, all of those extra niceties, which are all very expensive to maintain, are lost on me, a potential loyal customer, because of something that costs nothing – excellent service in putting the customer first. The stores that have the highest customer satisfaction levels are those that recognize situations from the customer’s perspective and work within guidelines.