Small sizes, big returns

Small sizes, big returns

It’s one of the early customer service lessons we learn. When a customer buys something, affirm that decision. Reaffirm it. Then do it again.

Sales data support this notion. In general, studies show that affirming a customer’s buying decision increases two to three times the likelihood he will buy the same thing, or more, from you again. It works over and over. In today’s age of instant reviews, photo sharing and other social media, an affirmation can quickly turn into praise worth an untold amount of sales. Conversely, not affirming a buying decision may result in disastrous online reviews, poor word-of-mouth referrals and reduced point-of-sale performance.

I used to visit one of the big retailers maybe once a quarter to get household items, an occasional greeting card or some such thing. Recently, I noticed it began carrying my dog’s favorite food for several dollars less than the big pet retailers. That periodic visit turned into a confirmed monthly visit based solely on the dog’s appetite and my miserliness for feeding that hunger. Every time I’ve bought dog food since, cashiers have asked about my dog, what kind it is etc. One even mentioned that the brand of dog food is a good one. You dog owners know how far this kind of small talk goes toward creating favor.

A couple weeks ago, I bought a cheap er, inexpensive, tee shirt there. shutterstock_78658234It turned out to be a snug fit, so I took it back. I told the customer service clerk that the shirt was a bit small or there was an infinitesimal chance I might be too big.

Without breaking stride, she looked up, smiled really big and said, “All of our sizes run small, sir. Sorry for the inconvenience. Enjoy your afternoon.” A wink followed. She handed me the return receipt and moved on to the next customer.

In one fell swoop this lady affirmed my buying decision, affirmed my decision to change it and politely disagreed with my personal size estimation. The way she handled that $7 return ensured I’ll buy another cheap, highly profitable tee shirt and and lots more expensive, highly profitable dog food there.

This quick-thinking clerk demonstrated the relative ease of increasing customer value from a “small” item and the likelihood of a larger purchase later. Offer genuine affirmation and you, too, will increase the size of your customer’s return and value.



  1. Mona Howell
    May 19, 2015

    Awesome article, Rick! Keep ’em coming! Looking forward to working with you soon.


    • Rick Purnell
      May 19, 2015

      Thanks, Mona. Looking forward to it, as well.


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