I wanted to purchase new ink cartridges for my printer, and I needed four: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Unfortunately, the store only had the individual cartridges for my printer. Normally, the four cartridges come in one single package at a lower price than each individual cartridge. Each cartridge costs about $20 for a total of $80. But when the four cartridges are sold as a set, the cost is somewhere between $60 to $70. So, there was a difference of $10 to $20, that I was now going to have to pay.
At the check-out counter, I explained the price difference to the salesperson and mentioned that there were no sets on display. So, I asked if Staples could match the price of the set and charge me the lower price – instead of charging me the total of four individual cartridges.
The salesperson adamantly shook his head and told me that my request could not be honored. He did not even attempt to find a manager or ask any other employees. He made the decision immediately.
So, since I had items to print and didn’t really have time to waste, my hands were tied. I purchased the four individual ink cartridges and left the store, but as I walked to my car, I wondered about the amount of customer service training provided at this particular Staples store. Was the Staples mantra of every customer interaction being easy, or a click of the Staples “easy button,” merely words? Do the stores only carry limited products to force customers to spend more? Would the salesperson have treated members of Staples’ leadership team the same way if they had been customers and secret shoppers? And finally, did the salesperson realize that he was providing a lousy customer experience?
Had I been the salesperson and not been able to match the lower price item, I would have responded in one of the following ways:
- “I’m really sorry that we don’t have the set you want to purchase in stock. How about if I order it online for you and expedite shipping to you at no cost?”
- “I’m so sorry that we don’t have the exact item you want in our store. I’d like to make your next visit a better one, so here’s a ten-dollar gift card with no expiration date.”
- “I’m so sorry, but I’m unable to price match. But here’s a free ream of paper for you.”
If you had been the salesperson, what would you have done to avoid alienating me – and making sure I go to Office Depot the next time I need ink cartridges or any other office supplies?
Finally, a reminder from Shep Hyken (@Hyken on Twitter), “When I refer to amazing customer service, I’m not suggesting that every interaction you and your company has with a customer has to be an “over the top” experience. The key is that they are always at least a little better than average. (Always is not easy). ”
Image Credit: Jenn David Design (www.jenndavid.com).
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