Judgment Calls

posted: Monday, June 6, 2016

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Rules are a part of life. It doesn't matter where you go, there are rules designed to maintain or enhance quality of life. As with most areas of life, sales and customer service have specific policies and procedures for both salespersons and customers. Ideally, the rules and policies clarify expectations and bring a greater satisfaction for both customers and companies--thus creating a smooth flow of business. When rules and expectations align, it's a win-win situation for everyone!

At times, a bit more finesse and common sense need to be applied. Here is one example:

Tim recently bought a watch for his wife Becky and she loved it. When Tim purchased the watch, he made sure that they could bring it back if the band did not fit. He was told they could add or subtract links if necessary. Becky felt that the watch would be more comfortable with a couple of links added. Based on the information that Tim received at the time of purchase, they took the watch back, expecting to be able to add the necessary links.

When they took it back to the store, they were told the store does not sell individual links. The store offered to exchange the watch; Becky loved the watch. She had no interest in exchanging it. Tim and Becky left the store feeling frustrated and that the store had broken a commitment to add the required links, not a positive conclusion to the gift of the watch! After a bit of research, they visited another dealer for the same watch. They waited their turn for service, only to be told that individual links were not available. This vendor, however, offered them a corporate phone number to call. Clearly, this was another disappointment for the couple.

An alert and wise salesperson stepped in and found an identical watch to Becky's. Within about five more minutes, Tim and Becky were on their way, with two links from the watch in the showcase installed on Becky's watch.

Technically, the salesperson violated a company policy by altering display merchandise. However, altering the merchandise served a customer more fully. Replacing the entire band could be accomplished without ruining the existing merchandise, so no actual harm was done. Overall, this action did not affect the store's bottom line. The potential for adding a life-long customer was great, simply by going the extra mile!

In this case, using common sense potentially created a valuable customer who, over time, would be inclined to spend several times the cost of the altered watch. Using good judgment is always a component of doing business. Practicing this skill develops a keenness that keeps errors to a minimum.

FINAO - Brad Huisken

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