Last week the receiver that powers my TV and speakers died. I thought about hopping online to replace it, but I’m one of those people who feels guilty about brick and mortar merchants being impacted by online sales. So I decided to go to our local tech store and buy in person.
I fought with parking. I got to their main entrance to find that the escalators weren’t working, so I slogged up the 30 or so stairs to get to their front door. I met a very nice young guy who confidently sold me a receiver. I had some questions about it, but he assured me that he was right in his recommendation, so (being a techno-troglodyte) I bought it and went home. When I opened it up, I quickly discovered that it was completely and totally wrong for my application. Then I went online and bought a replacement.
Today I returned that first receiver to the store and was met by another very nice young guy who gave me my money back. He smiled. I smiled. He didn’t ask much and I didn’t volunteer much. He was a nice merchant and I was a nice customer. When I got back in my car, I realized something:
Nice customers ruin our businesses.
What someone in charge needed to hear was that I wouldn’t buy from them again. There’s no energy in the store, it’s hard to find parking, it’s hard to access with the broken down escalator, and their untrained people give bad advice, so why would I ever shop there again? If they’re just selling commodities, there are simpler ways to get them.
But, if they don’t survive, people in a boardroom somewhere will be saying that competing with Amazon is simply impossible. That is absolutely not true. Lots of merchants thrive, but they give us reasons to shop with them. They provide advice, energy, and interest.
It’s so hard to get negative feedback in our work and personal lives, and yet, it’s the negative feedback that helps us grow and get better. We actually don’t learn much from our wins.
Next time someone says something to you at work or at home that’s tough to hear, ask yourself: “Even if some of this is untrue or unfair, what part is true? How can I grow and get better by heeding this criticism?” Next, thank them for raising it because they’re going out of their way to help you get better (even if they don’t mean it that way).
It takes humility to acknowledge that you haven’t yet arrived, and there are lots of ways that you still need to grow.
Plus, even a broken clock is right twice a day.