Friday, February 03, 2006

Excuse of the Week & Why You Should Think Twice Before Blaming Your Customers

I’m going to lay this on the line for all of you out there:

If you’re in business, any business, the WORST excuse you can ever give is…

…blaming the customer for your mistakes.  

And this brings me to my excuse-maker of the week.  

It comes to us from the grocery store that will remain nameless.  Here’s what happened:

I’m at the store to buy my favorite beer, New Belgium 1554 Black Ale.

I get to the register and it rings up $7.57.  So, I ask the cashier (we’ll call her D.), “Why is it $7.57?”

“It's because has $.58 tax."

“But the sign said it was $5.99.”  

Not wanting to bicker, I suggested we go have a look at the sign, which is a few feet from the register.  We can do this because the store is dead.

“See, the sign says $5.99.”  

Now the fun begins.

D. exclaims, “No, I think you are looking at the wrong sign.”

“You mean the one that says 6 pack 1554 Belgium Black Ale for $5.99?”

Rather than be defeated, D. continues pointing to another beer sign that says $6.99 and insisting that the lager beer is the one I’m really trying to buy.  

Pointing to the six pack in my hand, I say, “No, it is the 1554 beer that I am buying, not the lager.”

“Oh, I see,” D. says.  

I breathe a sigh of relief…

…a little too early it seems.  

“But these are for the 8 ounce bottles.  Your beer bottles are bigger than that.”

“It says 8.32 cents per ounce!  $5.99 for the 6 pack!”

Finally, D. relents and gets the price changed.  

Here’s the thing: I think everyone who reads this blog has had a similar experience.  Businesses of all sizes can make mistakes.  And when you do, don't make excuses.  And never ever blame your customers for your mistakes.  

One bad experience can turn a customer away from you for life.  And that dissatisfied customer will tell 10-12 of his good buddies.  Believe it.  It happens like that.  

But luckily for the unnamed grocery store, I thought the little exchange I had with D. is was funny, and since I have never had that kind of experience at this particular grocery before it won't affect my business with them.  

But D. does get my excuse-maker of the week award.  

Hoping for a “no excuses” weekend,

Carlon Haas


Steve Harper said...

Hence why I will NEVER EVER buy another thing from Ashley Furniture. We are STILL waiting on a China Cabinet from their July 4th Sale! The one they brought us (now three times) has either been the wrong match, wrong style or was damaged. A conversation with their manager revealed that I was being difficult; simply because I wanted what I paid for. An argument that is now 7 months old and has spurn miles and miles of conversation where tales of less than happy service have been told.

Seems like rather than arguing the point the first three times, they would have understood that making the situation right the first time, whatever that might have taken, would have cost them less in the long run and kept a customer (my wife wanted to buy a bedroom suite once the "situation" was resolved).

Whether it's 6.99 or wrongly matched china cabinet doors....It isn't the customer's job to make the situation right! No customers are not always right but in this case and in yours...we are and we can decide to vote with our checkbooks the next time!

Carlon Haas said...

Amen to that Steve! There are plenty of stores that lost my business over arguing over small things.

Customers are not always right, but when they are you just have to accept it. I wouldn't be in business very long if I went around getting pissed off if a client of mine found a typo.

You just fix the problem--period.