Penny Wise and Dollar Foolish–a cautious tale about customer care

Two blocks from The Idea Loft (the galactic headquarters of Brilliance Activator) you’ll find a handy little grocery store (market). In addition to selling essentials, they prepare sandwiches to order. It’s a great place to go when you need lunch and are short on time.

Recently I ordered a sandwich and the total came to $4.24. I handed the clerk a five dollar bill and a quarter. While the clerk was entering the order on the cash register, I was thinking about what I would do with the penny I’d soon receive. There was a little container near the register that held pennies for customers who were short a cent or two. I figured I’d put my penny in that container.

Then the clerk handed me my change: a one dollar bill. No penny and no explanation. Now I know this sound incredibly petty, but I was really bothered by that. In the great scheme of things a penny isn’t worth much, but it was my penny and what value it had belonged to me, not the grocery.

That tiny failure of customer service left a sour taste in my mouth. And my trips to that market have dwindled.

Why didn’t I question the clerk or say something? I don’t know. But it’s a fact that most dissatisfied customers don’t voice their dissatisfaction. They just stop patronizing the business. They leave and seldom return, often for reasons no more dramatic than my reaction to a missing penny.

Customer care is a delicate matter. As I discussed in my post on Dismal Delivery (Episode Four of The Seven Lemons of Leadership), your organization can provide the best quality product or service possible yet if it’s delivered in a poor or lackadaisical fashion–the quality is forgotten.

In our efforts to improve the bottom line we have to avoid being penny wise and dollar foolish.

Brilliance Activator helps leaders uncork the creative power of their teams to develop products and services that delight customers, increase repeat sales, and improve their profit margins. Receive regular insights and information from Brilliance Activator by subscribing to our free newsletter.
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