In business, little decisions make the biggest difference

By Alec Hogg

Got an excellent lesson in customer relations yesterday. After struggling to conquer a particularly tricky tech challenge, I’d been advised to acquire a supersized USB stick which cost the equivalent of R700. A couple hours later, Apple’s help desk discovered the version I’d bought (3.0) was too advanced as its system only worked with earlier models (2.0).

On returning to the store brandishing a till slip, the 60-something cashier immediately suggested because the packaging had been opened, the store wouldn’t be able to re-sell it so wouldn’t exchange it. But she’d call her manager anyway, just to confirm. It wasn’t only her boss’s 20-something appearance that showed he came from a different era.

He never asked why the swap was required, simply smiled and replaced the USB for the older version. And because it was cheaper, handed back a third of what had been paid. His decision cost the store the price of a USB, but it secured a customer for life. The cashier’s approach would have lost one forever.

Interesting how, in business, the little decisions make the biggest difference.