Law of Reciprocity

`Who says that customer service is dead? It’s alive and well! I found another exceptional employee the other night – a clerk in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore in suburban San Diego, CA. Here’s the story.

I saw (part of) a terrific documentary on Television about a month ago. I really wanted to purchase a copy of the DVD if it was available. The only problem was that I couldn’t remember the name of the film. So, I had some time on my hand prior to my drive home and went looking for it at the local Barnes & Noble.

The clerk looked friendly enough and, of course, he asked if he could help me.

“Yes, I’m looking for a documentary about the musical sidemen who backed the Motown stars on their recording sessions in the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t know the title. Can you help me?”

“Certainly, the title is Standing in the Shadows. I love that film! Let me get it for you.”

Brilliant – that was easy! I could have left right then and been quite happy. But, I like to browse while I am in a bookstore.

After a few minutes, the clerk came back. He had noticed that I was browsing in the Jazz CD section. He offered a suggestion – one of his favorites – a reissue of a live performance that had been long out of print. He asked me if I knew it.

I didn’t know the album; but I liked the performers, so I was interested. Under normal circumstances, I probably would have shrugged off his suggestion, but the Law of Reciprocity” had now kicked in and I purchased the album.

If you don’t know this law, here is a quick definition:

“The principle is that others will reciprocate in kind based upon the way you treat them. The world gives you what you give to the world.”

He had helped me. A level of trust had developed between us. He had a passion for music – as do I. He did not impose his taste on me. His simple suggestion prompted the extra sale. I enjoyed the encounter. And I enjoyed listening to the album on my drive home that night. And I will return to his store the next time that I am in the area.

Do you have any exceptional customer service stories to share? If so, please do so below.

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  1. […] Sometimes, I get an idea from a business partner; sometimes from a speech or a presentation. But I find that the best ideas usually come from a peer. Something that has worked for them. Something that I can adapt to fit my situation. That is the Law of Reciprocity. […]

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