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How great service started with a "no"

Kent Stones  |  by Kent Stones

As a fan of specialty brands, I generally focus on buying products at retail locations that specialize in the category in which I am interested. I love that employees at specialty stores know more about what I'm interested in and can provide invaluable help in figuring out what to buy because they have experience with the product.  There are times, however, when the price differential is so great due to some sale that I shop based on price, especially if I already know what I want. This was one of those times. The purchase? A 58-inch plasma TV. I had done my homework and knew exactly the make and model I wanted. I think the sales associate made the easiest sale of his entire life, because I breezed in, pointed to the TV and simply said, "That one." He wrote it up, placed a call to the back room and told me to meet him up front. He did ask how I was getting it home and I explained that I found the measurement of the shipping box online and in measuring the trunk of my car discovered it was perfectly shaped to slide it in with about a millimeter to spare. "How far are you?" he asked. "About one-half mile." I responded.  "Well, you aren't supposed to put plasma TVs on their side, but that should be OK."  His demeanor suggested this was a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule, so I smiled and nodded my head.

About five minutes later, a different employee approached me and asked if I was the person taking the plasma TV home by laying it flat in the trunk of my car. I smiled and said yes.  "Sir, at the risk of losing my job, I cannot let you take that TV out of the store."  I could tell he was nervous.  "And why is that?" I asked.  "Because plasma TVs are fine upright, but very delicate when on their side. The slightest bump could break the seal and destroy your picture tube because it is filled with a gas. I just can't let you take that risk."  Long story short - after more questions and pushback, this courageous young man convinced me to wait two weeks for delivery (which was free, by the way). Had he not, I likely would have destroyed my new TV within minutes of leaving the store.

I share this story because this is what specialty brands and the people that sell them are supposed to be about. Knowledgeable. Passionate. Helpful.  He was not afraid to say "no" to a potential sale because he was thinking about the longer term implications. I left that store quite happy and convinced I would return for other shopping. If they trained their employees to be that caring, that's where I want to spend my time and money.

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