How Small Things Make A Big Difference

About 12 years ago I worked in a one of the large chain bookstores. Part of the job entailed working at the information desk, answering questions and directing people to where they might find a book. On one particular day shortly before Christmas a customer came in and when I looked up the book she wanted it was out of print. The customer might have gone home disappointed, however, as luck would have it that day there was a win-win-win situation that resulted in the customer, the bookstore, and myself all coming out ahead.

The luck in this win-win-win was me. I owned a copy of that out of print book. It was a $5 paperback that I had bought and never read and it was neatly tucked away in a box somewhere at home in the exact condition as it was when I first bought it.

No sooner had I mentioned to the customer that the book was no longer available when I told her I could make it available to her. I wasn’t quite sure which box it was in, but I knew I had it. I asked her to call the store the next day and ask for me and I would let her know if I was able to find it.

In another bit of luck that makes you believe in Christmas miracles I went home that night, opened a random box of books and found what I was looking for sitting there on top of the first and only box I opened. I had expected to spend an hour opening boxes before finding it, but instead it took all of 30 seconds.

The next day the woman called and later came back to the store. She handed me a $5 bill and I handed her a book. Win-win-win.

For this woman the win was getting the exact Christmas present she was looking for even though it was no longer available. For me the win was getting my money back on a book I had no intention of reading. For the store the win was an increase in the loyalty a customer felt for the store.

Why the Small Things Matter

The point of the story isn’t to let you know what a wonderful person I am, but to show you how little things can make a big difference>. Imagine yourself as that woman. You’re looking for the perfect Christmas present only to be told you can’t get it anywhere. Maybe you’ve already been in an out of three other bookstores without being able to find the book you knew someone on your Christmas list had specifically asked for.

Odds are a $5 paperback wasn’t the big ticket item under the tree. Chances are Christmas wasn’t going to be ruined for this woman or the recipient of her gift if she couldn’t find it. But think about how much of a difference it made to her to have someone go out of their way to help.

How would you feel after finally acquiring the perfect gift for someone? What kind of experience would you associate with your trip to the bookstore? Would you shop there again? Next time you were looking for a book which store would you go to first?

Next week, next month, or whenever the opportunity arises spend the extra few minutes it takes to make someone happy. It might mean working an hour on a Saturday to finish something for a client. It might mean looking up the answer to a question you see posted on a forum. It might mean helping a customer carry a package to her car.

The little things do make a difference. They contribute to a positive experience that’s associated with your brand. The little things lead to happier people who become loyal customers.

What did you do today that you didn’t have to in order to make someone’s day a little easier?

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

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