A diehard fan of retail chains, I just want to write about two experiences of the recent past.
Driving down with my 9 year old son for an ice - cream, we remembered, we needed a three pin plug for an X Box which was his latest prized possession. We both agreed that it would be available in the electronic retail showroom that has come up recently a little away from our home. However, the urge to have it just now made us stop the car at a quaint electrical shop where our parents used to buy 40 watt bulbs. (We pick up CFLs now from the retail chains now a days!) Both of us were unsure whether it will be available. My son could have ordered it online! However, we both asked him mumbling fumbling for words that we wanted a 3 pin plug. Just then I realized that we do not ask anyone anymore. We pick.
He gave us a box which we both agreed was too small. He asked us 15A? I looked at my son. He said 16A with a lot of confidence. The shopkeeper nodded, it will work. We were a little unsure and surely that showed on our faces. The shop keeper ensured that plugs cannot be bigger than this. We sort of agreed, still not entirely convinced. We paid and when we were walking away, after telling him we will exchange if it did not fit, he called us back. He took out a bigger box which had a 3 pin plug and asked my son to fix it. 1-2-3 bingo and it fitted. We both beamed. My son in his usual way said, “cool man”! The shopkeeper gave us an all knowing smile. I knew he didn’t want to send us half baked.
The second instance was at a fruit shop where we buy our bananas from.
Its a ritual, I get down from the car - he hands me over six bananas - I hand over the money - job over...
This time a little girl stopped me. She was around 12. I have seen her before with her father helping out with general chores. She called out, “do you want a friendship band”? I was in a hurry, not too interested. She persisted, “aunty band?” I said, “No I don't want dear, you wear it.” She had a red band in her hand. She lifted it up and said, "You visited our shop 25 times today, so you get a red band.” I was shocked, surprised, 25 times? Who counted? "I count Aunty, I have a copy", she said and she showed me a nice note book covered in gift wrapping paper. Silver Maruti 800 - aunty - 25 times. I think I got more emotional than happy as I was getting my loyalty gift. I did not swipe a card, did not have an unique identification number, I did not even bother to look at her and all the days she was counting my visits? I felt happy and very small all at the same time. I kneeled down to see the proof of my visits. Hugged her.
From then on whenever I bought bananas I would carry a chocolate along!! My count is 34 now. Waiting for 50 and the gift she has kept as a surprise. The red friendship band is displayed in my living room.
From a customer’s point of view and a management teacher, I have heard all the jargons endlessly. Customer satisfaction, relationship building, direct marketing so on and so forth… Can there be any experience better than this?