About a year ago, in a post called What, If Anything, Keeps Your Customers Loyal? http://www.jeffhasen.com/blog/2013/6/10/what-if-anything-keeps-your-customers-loyal, I wrote about my family’s support of a small business owner who has never offered us a discount, sold us a product that we couldn't get elsewhere, or opened a location closer to our house.
In it, I told readers of Jeff, his boutique pet store, and the fact that we were buying high-end dog food from him ever after we bought product from Jeff that made our pets sick.
What was this business owner’s lure then – and now?
Jeff wins at what I call the Moments of Trust. He treats his customers like they are his customers. When I first wrote about him, Jeff had been working in his Kirkland, WA, store every day of the week for three straight years without complaint, with a smile, and a willingness to carry purchased product from his store to the car parked outside.
He has since found a way for his grandson to relieve him a couple of times a month so he can actually have a life beyond work.
I thought of Jeff Friday (before I actually saw him and bought from him) when one of those Moments of Trust was miserably fumbled by someone else I do business with on a regular basis.
Susan (not her real name) has cut my hair for more than five years. She charges more than the going rate, but I’ve stayed true to her despite the fact that she dumps her personal issues on me as if my time in her chair is hers rather than mine.
The other day, I received an email from her with a 20% discount. Wonderful, I thought, Susan has an appreciation for me.
On Friday, she told me that I had been sent the email in error. It was intended only for those who don't come in regularly. Twenty percent for not coming in for three months. More, she said, if the time between visits was longer.
The reward for spending money with her every six or so weeks for five years? Full price.
It’s the dumbest business practice that I've seen in a long time.
She rang up my $60 haircut (I know what you’re saying – 60 bucks for that ‘do?). I gave her no tip.
If you do the math (I did), she could’ve taken the 20% off, then I would’ve given her a 20% tip. We would’ve been at the same mathematical place – and I would’ve felt appreciated.
You may ask why I’ve stayed with Susan all these years. She’s alternated between being a single mother and an unhappy wife (while I sympathize, I know this because she has told me from the minute I sit down until the time I leave).
Will I go back? Doubtful, although I’ve said that before and always gave her the benefit of the doubt.
It’s more than she has ever given me.
Do you think she deserves yet another chance?
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program http://Goo.gl/t3fgW, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.