Bessie Sells Shoes

The front door was open to the almost always gorgeous San Diego weather and her welcome was as sunny as the sky. The first thing she asked my sister when she picked up the perforated leather mule was “What size can I get you in those?” She brought back more than just that single pair, offering the sensible reason that these were similar…. just in case. She was masterful – she paid close attention and listened to our discussion of what to wear with these, she asked appropriate questions – interjecting only information about the shoes that was helpful. Jill selected 2 styles for herself, and the shoes I found were out of stock, but available in another store. I didn’t want to wait for them but I did request arch supports for my boots. Bessie brought 2 pair – beige and black and I took both. She straddled the space among the three of us and waited on our sister in law, finding shoes for her that were sexier than usual and more expensive than ever… and Connie said yes, with a caveat. One of the pair was slightly faded and could a perfect match be found? Yes, in another store. The challenge was that Connie was leaving for a trip up the coast the next day and her shoes would need to be shipped to her home across the country, a savings of state sales tax but a shipping fee of $12. Jill asked if that fee could be waived given that the error was the stores, and the response was the (un)expected ‘it’s our policy.’ The tipping point arrived and the sale teetered, briefly but palpably. Total – 3 pairs of savory shoes. Until now the experience was extraordinary – engaging, knowledgeable, adding more to the sale than requested. And now, at the culmination, for a slice of a second and less than 3% the total purchase, the seller stood firm. They got the $12 and the 3 pair sale, because of the generosity of the buyers and not because their way of managing the concern was skillful or as caring as their selling had been. And what might have ended on a sweet note had a vaguely sour finish…. leaving the experience of the experience not where it was magical, but where it ended.

Until next time!

Jody @jodyseivert

2 thoughts on “Bessie Sells Shoes

  1. Great story, and would love to hear more in the future! $12 would have been a very small price for the store to pay for a 100% great customer experience that no doubt would have meant the customer bragging about the store to others. $12 for word of mouth advertising! It amazes me how many businesses just don’t get “it.”

    I was just at a fine restaurant in my neighborhood that has been open over a year and I had been dying to go to. It has been been BYOB from day one and says so in every restaurant review, on Yelp, and on where I made my reservation. My 2 friends and I are always on a tight budget, and I chose this restaurant because I had a coupon “spend $50 and get $100 worth,” and the coupon had only cost me $2. We brought 2 bottles of cheap wine with us. When we sat down we were told the restaurant had just recently stopped the BYOB, and there was a $17 per bottle corkage fee. We explained we didn’t know, and that it said everywhere BYOB, and could they just allow us today to open our own wine without a fee? The server said they have been telling the chef/owner over and over again that people are complaining about the change and that she needs to tell Open Table to take that info down, but she doesn’t care and has yet to do it. I asked to speak to the chef/owner, but they said she will not waiver. I ended up cutting a deal with the service — we’ll buy a bottle if we can open one of ours without a fee. They agreed. (Don’t tell the chef!) P.S. – I will not be going back. As they say, It takes months, sometimes years to get a customer and only seconds to lose one. Was it worth it? Too bad the chef will never know what could have been.

    • It’s indeed amazing how the little things make the biggest difference – and how attached we get to policy that we cannot release our white-knuckled grip on it and allow the simple request to be honored. As salespeople we all want to make the sale, THIS sale, and we get attached to that, too. Thank you so much for your excellent example of the bone-headed decisions we (all) make out of fear, greed, or some other of the 7 Deadlies that have us win the short sale now and lose the long term business of the future.

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