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Sunday, September 13, 2009

$2.15 can lose you thousands.

Yesterday I stopped at one of two sporting goods stores that sell hockey equipment in Overland Park, KS – the one where I do a vast majority of my spending.

Not a major spree – I just needed a number applied to the jersey for my fall men’s league team. The total came to $2.15.

It was the attitude of the person who performed the service that set me off.

The same individual that applied the number also rang my purchase up. When finished, she was surprised, borderline disgusted with the amount showing on the register. “That’s it? Seriously?”

Now I know that $2.15 isn’t a heavy commission sale. I’d even acknowledge that the time and effort to apply the number likely made it an unprofitable transaction. But the service employee, other than being rude, was taking the short view, the view that didn’t take into account my lifetime value as a customer.

Ask a parent. Hockey is an expensive sport. I spend hundreds a year on equipment, sticks, and sharpening. I’ve played since moving here, and referred several adult players to the store. I’ve have coached in the area and referred kids & their card-wielding parents. In all, my lifetime value, already in the thousands, is likely to double or triple that before my wife and my doctor finally conspire to convince me to stop playing.

So sure, the transaction was $2.15, and hardly worth the service providers’ time. Except that I see it as one minor though potentially critical, touchpoint in a long-term relationship. And so should they. Then they might have also seen it as an opportunity to secure or lose a fairly revenue stream.

How then, should they have acted if a customer worth thousands in revenue and thousands more in referrals came in for a $2.15 purchase? Write it off for a loyal customer? I’d have considered it.

As it stands, their actions have me giving that other store another look.

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