$5 or $5,000 does it matter?

I have been pondering this question the other day.  My manager made a point the other day and I for one feel she is right.  Whenever we have a customer in our store that doesn’t want to have to follow our company return policy.  In other words they want to return an item that they purchased months ago with the tags still on that is outside of our 30 day return policy and we apologize and state that we are unable to return the item because it is outside of the time frame; nine times out of ten the customer instantly jumps to the comment “but I spend insert amount (a lot, thousands, etc.) at this store.”  The thing is it doesn’t matter and I would like to suggest that you shouldn’t want it to and it is a good thing that it doesn’t.  Here’s the thing would you want to be treated poorly simply because you don’t spend a lot in the store?  Or would you want excellent customer service and a great shopping experience everytime you enter the store regardless of what you spend or if you buy nothing at all.

The reality of it is, the people that shop at our store frequently and do spend thousands know our return policy they even typically know the month we changed it over the summer.  Not only that but we have signs at all the registers, it is printed on the receipt that they are bringing in, and we frequently tell our customers.  Most of the time I would be willing to bet they know its outside the policy and come in ready for an argument wanting an exception to be made for them.  But beyond that is really the question about it mattering that you spend more than others in the store.

I caught myself in a tweet this weekend when I was leaving Buy Buy Baby upset about the lack of service I received and stated thatI had been going there to spend thousands.  Truth is it shouldn’t have mattered if I was going in there to purchase a $20 item or the $1000 bedroom furniture I was going to purchase.  The associate asked me if she could help me and I asked her for a price on the few pieces we were looking at adding to our 2 year old’s bedroom.   We already have part of the set and wanted to add more now that he is older and his new room is larger.  The woman walked away to check, after sitting there for 15-20 min and her not returning I got up to check and found her helping someone else.  She said “I was going to come back to you and tell you we were really busy but this couple came up and needed help”.  As if that wasn’t bad enough the other item we wanted was out of stock on the shelve and then the couple of little items we picked up we went and stood in line and then they started a second line forgot about the line I was in and all these people were cutting in front of us and when I said something the associate said I should go and join the back of the thoer line.  So I handed her my items and walked out of the store.  The worst part of this is I later found out they had a store meeting that very morning about customer service and how they needed to improve.

While I was making a small purchase at the register I had been prepared to make a large purchase and that was thwarted every step of the way.  We plan on buying a new Bob jogging stroller this morning and I have found that I can purchase it at a local Michigan based company called Moosejaw where I have always had excellent customer service and while I may pay a few dollars more for the item it will be worth it to support a company that does it right.  I am also going to be looking for another store to purchase my additional pieces of Mother Hubbard’s furniture.

So all customers regardless of what they are spending should be treated the same by all companies.  It is better for the consumer and for the business they need to recognize that you never know where that small purchase will lead.  Fierce loyalty by a consumer, where they will spend more just to shop with you if they need to, only comes from providing excellent experiences for your customers each and every time.  To summon my inner Julia Roberts, to not do this would be a “Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”

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