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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Satisfaction not guaranteed

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Lynette Sowell

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Traci, a friend of mine who lives in another state, recently lamented on Facebook about a less-than-satisfactory shopping experience she had with another business in her area. She was shopping for some tap shoes for a business she’s affiliated with, a local dance studio. She was looking for a supply of tap shoes in a variety of kids’ sizes—a potentially big order.

“I went to a dance store today and asked if they had reinforced toe, single screw tap shoes (ranging in price from $70-$90 usually). The lady told me that if I didn’t have the product number she would have to look through the catalogue and so there was ‘just no way she could help me.’

Of course, there are about 60 tap dancers at our studio who will all need these shoes, more than once, as their little feet grow. 60 tappers at, say, $80 a pair, needing, say three pairs of these shoes before they reach adult size.

The lady not willing to find out if she had, or could order, the shoes for me just lost her business a potential $14,000 over the next few years. That does not include the ‘blacks’ the girls would buy while there, the hair nets, convertible tights, or ballet shoes it would be convenient to get while there either.

It’s probably a good idea, if you are a little tiny independently owned specialty shop, to be helpful to local people whose kids are in advanced dance classes.”

Traci subsequently took her business home online to her computer and bought plenty of tap shoes—with free shipping from Amazon!

But then her dilemma—shared in her online post—was, should she let the store owner know how much money that employee’s reluctance to help had just cost them in business?  She’s a proponent of small business and knew if she was this woman’s manager, she’d want to know. As is the case on Facebook, much discussion and input followed. She decided to email the store owner and share her disappointment. A day later, Traci shared an update with everyone.

“The dance store replied to my email. They found the shoes (the same ones I had just bought on Amazon) and said they’d order them for me, but justified their employee and said that based on the justification—other moms just want cheap shoes—she was sorry I felt like the lady had been dismissive. Well, whatever. I have free shipping with Amazon Prime.”

Why am I sharing this story? It’s a prime example of how shopping small and local won’t work if customer service breaks down. Maybe my friend should have told the employee right at the start that she was planning to make a BIG order of shoes.

But should she have needed to say that upfront to an employee in order to get good customer service? Of course not. Every customer deserves good service, regardless of how much they spend—even if they order “cheap shoes.”

When customer service breaks down, so a business follows. Business owners sticking their heads in the sand and not listening to customers, assuming “the employee is always right”, can end up losing money. For the most part, I think our small, local businesses around here do a good job. But sometimes, satisfaction is not guaranteed. Business owners, treat your customers equally and well. You never know who might walk in the door.


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