What would you do to keep a customer?
Shared by Another Idea from HEILBrice Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We all know customers are worth more than ever.
We have to wrap our arms around every one of them and hold on tight. But do team members the freedom to deliver truly game-changing service?

A couple of days ago, I was standing in line at the local independent convenience store. It was my turn to step up and pay for my extra-large lo-carb energy drink when a frazzled looking, but attractive woman rushed in the door and stepped in front of me. HEY WAIT–ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!

But I decided not to go into a caffeine-deprived rager, because she seemed so flustered. I couldn’t tell if she was holding up the store or there was some emergency going on outside. She blurted to the cashier, “Can I have one?” The cashier glanced at me and then walked over to a drawer, pulled out a pack of cigarettes, took one and handed it to the customer. Then of course, she asked for matches. Then just as quickly as she ran in, she was out the door.

Had to ask what was all about, didn’t I?

Turns out this customer was complaining one day that she just couldn’t quit smoking. Tried everything. Gum, patches and it wasn’t working. The clerk, in a half kidding way, offered to HOLD her cigarettes for her and only give her two per day. And she had to come into the store get each one. His thinking was that if it harder to get a nicotine fix, then his customer could eventually wean herself off the cancer sticks. She jumped on the idea. He confided that things were getting a little out of hand though, because now he had six different packs in the drawer—the customer had referred five friends!!! I told him he should consider a “buy a hot dog, get a free 12 step program” offer. Seeing that really made me think: In marketing, we always talk about building emotional connections with our customers. Mostly, we’ve done that with words and images and products and store designs. But an actual human being working to help another human being builds more than connections—it builds more customers. Seems to me that would never wind up in an HR manual.