Smarter is Better. Get smart with fresh tips, videos, & in-depth articles sent to your inbox. Sign Up!

Never Forget The Concept Of Lifetime Value

In the last month I’ve had two very bad customer service experiences at places I regularly patronize. In both cases the lifetime value of my repeat business meant nothing to the perpetrator of the bad service. Bad, bad strategy to not pay attention to this incredibly important concept. I’ll share these two events with you now.

Case study number one: I went to my local OfficeDepot on a weeknight in late April to have five copies of presentations made for participants in my Sales Mastery program. I asked that the copies be ready by 1:30 pm the next day. I emphasized that they must be ready by 1:30 pm as I had appointments after that and couldn’t wait. The OfficeDepot representative confirmed my order and said they’d be ready.

The next day I showed up about 1:30. I was handed a box, which seemed light. I said to the employee, “Are you sure there are five copies in there? It seems light to me.”

The reply was, “Well, I don’t know. Let’s check.”

There were only three copies. Oh no! The person told me that their professional printer was down and they could not make any more copies. Maybe it had gone down while my order was being run. I wondered why no one called to tell me that I was only going to get three copies. The employee didn’t have a good answer for me. Of course they didn’t because that was absolutely reprehensible service! I’ve been a customer there for some time and lately I was a frequent customer since my business coaching practice is growing. And this is how they treat me?

We routed the order to another OfficeDepot and I did eventually get my additional two copies. But the damage was done. My schedule that afternoon was thrown off. I’m not excited at this point to give OfficeDepot more of my business.

Case study number two. On March 30th I was at the local Whole Foods. I’ve shopped there for years. I like the store a lot and many of the employees are great. On this particular day I noticed a special offer on a bag of Terra Chips. There was a peel off coupon that would get me three free bottles of a certain brand of tea if I bought two bags of chips. I grabbed the chips and headed for the bottled tea aisle. Hmm, the tea I was looking for was nowhere to be found.

I found an employee there I know who’s a food buyer. We’ve talked many times in the past. He knows me. I asked him if they had the tea. He said they currently did not. I showed him the coupon and he said to me, “Buy the Terra Chips and save the coupon and receipt. I’m probably going to stock the tea again. When you come back and find the tea, present the coupon and receipt and we’ll give it to you.”

I appreciated this consideration and bought the chips. Two weeks ago I was in the store and spied the tea. Aha! It’s my chance. I went back the next day with my receipt and coupon. I decided to start at the Customer Service counter to ensure I wasn’t going to run in to any trouble doing this. Bad decision. The lady behind the counter shut me down quickly and decisively. She said they do not allow coupons on food packages to be used on any day except the day of purchase. I explained that these were unusual circumstances and a fellow employee of hers told me it would be all right. She asked me who had told me such a thing. I mentioned who it was. She said he had no such authority to make promises like that.

It seemed to me that she didn’t understand that she was not only irritating a longstanding customer over $5.00 worth of tea, but she was also throwing a co-worker under the bus. I asked her if she was sure she didn’t want to make good on the promise made to me by the other employee. She said she was sure. Man was I mad. I’ve not shopped there since then.

See what happens when you don’t put the customer first? They start wondering whether they want to spend money with you anymore. I’m worth thousands to these stores over my lifetime and yet I was given bad service. Please don’t ever forget the concept of lifetime value.

What do you think? Should I go back to these stores and spend money there again?

The following two tabs change content below.

Michael Neuendorff

Strategic Business Coach at The Growth Coach
Michael Neuendorff is a versatile business coach, trainer and speaker. He helps professionals and small business owners grow personally and professionally through a combination of new knowledge, more purposeful action, and a fresh mindset. Michael specializes in the areas of sales, online marketing, public speaking, and strategic planning. Michael holds an Advertising degree from Arizona State University.

Latest posts by Michael Neuendorff (see all)

7 comments… add one
  • Great question Michael. I know that when I have those types of experiences I don't want to go back. I wonder if there are any other reviews online about these stores?

  • Glenn, I'm validated that you feel the same way. As for websites with online reviews on local stores, Yelp is the most popular one around here.

  • These establishments need to learn a thing or two from Nordstrom! I definitely don't think you should go back to these stores to give them business. They obviously do not know how to appreciate their loyal and returning customers. Shame on them!

  • You make me think. I do feel that people at these kind of stores definitely have less personal touch than mom and pop stores, wherever those are now these days. There is no personal interest at stake!

  • Bianca, You make a good point. Why should I go back? I'm not just a one-time customer. Truth be told I called the manager of the OfficeDepot the next day to share the incident with her. She seemed to care, but there was no follow-up with me to say it would be any different next time. It's also not the first time they've messed up an order. I should probably take the hint.

    As for WholeFoods I have an email address to write to with my story. I should probably give them a chance to make good on the promise made by the employee in question. Thanks for your comments.

  • Raja, You're so right. They have very little at stake. If I never go back they could probably care less. That's why we can only take satisfaction in knowing ourselves that we're patronizing stores where the employees really think like owners. When they adopt that mindset everything changes. Thanks for your comments.

  • I am updating my post here in regards to OfficeDepot. I have gone back to them three times now since this post and they've done a marvelous job each time. I am a happy customer once again. Sometimes a store and its team deserves another chance.

Leave a Comment