Customer Advocacy and Company Blasphemy

Last week when I realized we were out of bottled water in our offices at Force 5 a few hours before a potential client was stopping by, I decided to make a quick run to the grocery store.  After loading my cart with some H2O, I quickly made my way to the checkout register.  Along the way I noticed my favorite cookies – old fashioned sugar cookies.   I grabbed a tray and thought, “our guest will like these, and if not, our staff will.”  (Yep, staff members are the most important brand ambassadors you have; so treat them well.)  

So, I’m in line to pay and Ethyl the cashier says, “Look at that!” as she points to the price tag on the cookies, “those cookies are $3.59!”

“I know,” I say, “but man, are they good!”  (I’d bought them at least 5 times before.)

She picks up the clear container and starts for count them out for me, “two, four, six … eightcookies!  I can’t believe how expensive they are.  I wouldn’t pay that for just eight  cookies.”

I just smiled and bought my cookies.  I smiled at her manager too, who had listened to the entire conversation. 

Ok.  Ethyl meant well.  She wanted for me what she valued for herself – maximum cookie quantity per dollar spent.  Ethyl wanted me to be happy.   

Unfortunately, Ethyl did the opposite.  In this exchange Ethyl communicated three pretty awful things:

1) You must like to waste money.

2) Apparently you can’t read or count or make decisions.

3) Be careful.  Unless I was here to protect you, this place would screw you over every chance it gets.

There’s a fine line between customer advocacy and company blasphemy.  I’ve found throughout my career that sales people who understand the difference are the ones who are the most successful.  Have you ever run across a salesperson like this and how did they make you feel as a buyer?