Saturday, 9 February 2008

Small acts, big impact

On the way home from work yesterday, I stopped in town to do some shopping. My first port of call was a high street chain shop. They had what I was looking for, but only in a pre-packaged set that included stuff that I didn’t really want. Nobody asked if they could help or offered any form of assistance – even though the shop was fairly quiet and there were at least two members of staff hanging around, apparently doing nothing. I left… dissatisfied and without making a purchase.

Then I went to a small specialist shop (where I should have gone in the first place!). There were a few people in the shop, and only one person serving, but somehow it didn’t seem to matter. There was a nice, relaxed atmosphere and no sense of hurry – each customer got the level of attention that they required.

The customers before me – a mother and her daughter of about 11 – paid for their goods and went away, leaving me as the only customer in the shop. I asked the woman who was serving for some advice, and as she started to explain the options, the mother came rushing back in with her daughter. Full of apologies she explained that her daughter had lifted a small article, and shortly after leaving the shop had reminded her mother that they hadn’t paid for it. There was clearly no intention to steal the item, just an absent-minded moment. I was heartened that the girl herself had spotted the mistake and was honest enough to draw it to her mother’s attention. The shop assistant dealt with it calmly and efficiently, without any sense of annoyance.

Then I had her undivided attention. She explained the options, suggested that I should avoid the more expensive articles, and highlighted the most suitable bargains. She didn’t show any impatience with my daft questions. As I was paying she went off to get a leaflet for me, explaining the range of products that were available if I wanted to make any further purchases in the future.

The result – a happy customer, who will go back there as the first choice in the future.

Small acts, making a big impact. There’s a lesson for the high street shop if they can be bothered and there’s also a parable in there waiting to get out!


That Hideous Man said...

I was in central Norwich last week - a city I have never been to in my life. What was depressing was that if you were to be parachuted there and asked which UK city you had landed in - you would get no clues from your surroundings.... it looked identical to,and could have been any of a hundred places.... the same brands, the same chains, the same window designs, the same plastic the same absence of life.

lucy said...

"small acts, big impact"...absolutely!!

reminded me of this quote:

"too often we underestimate
the power of a touch, a smile,
a kind word, a listening ear,
an honest compliment,
or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

--leo buscaglia

Lins Honeyman said...

You seem to put a lot of thought into buying a pair of socks! ;-)

Talking Bear said...

ER, I can relate to your adventure. I created a rule for myself as I buy many things from many suppliers. I always go to the place that is the most hungry. What I mean by that is, when I am full I do not care about another meal and I will not bother myself in the pursuit of one. But when I am hungry I will go an extra mile to meet that need. Business is the same. "Fat" stores/contractors/craftsmen will not go that extra mile. But the skinny ones will do what needs to be done to make your day.