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?

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