Customer Power

Is the customer always right?  The answer is a definite maybe.  We’re pretty sure they think they’re always right.  We’re also pretty sure that you can win the battle and lose the war if you don’t agree.  The customer has always been able to refuse to do business with you if they think you’ve done them wrong, and that’s a form of power.  They’ve also always been able to tell their friends what they think of you and your store, and that’s an even more powerful tool.  Wise merchants have always realized this and done whatever they can, within reason, to keep every customer happy.  Happy customers can become loyal customers and even customer evangelists.  Great grandpa and grandma knew that when they ran the general store and we know it today.

But our great grandparents never dreamed of the Internet.  Suddenly every customer can have an audience.  Here’s a case in point from the Church of the Customer blog.

Terry Heaton bought a digital camera from CompUSA.  Unfortunately, when he got it home he discovered that the box was empty.  He complained and was told that he should have looked in the box before he left the store.  The store was closing and signs were posted saying "All Sales Final!"  In total, Terry had spent $3,500 in the store that day.

To make a long story short, Terry’s wrote about his experience on his blog.  There were 153 comments.  The story was posted on Digg where it was viewed more than 3,000 times and generated another 222 comments making it number 2 in the Digg business section.  BoingBoing and picked up the story and another 50 bloggers repeated it.  By the time CompUSA called back with an apology and a $300 gift certificate, the story was on the front page of  Total elapsed time from the time Heaton wrote to the company until the story appeared on FoxNews?  Less than one month.

The moral of the story?  Today’s customers have a BIG voice and we’d better all listen.

By the way, I Googled "CompUSA AND ’empty box’" today.  Here’s a screen shot: 13,600 results.


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