“Hey Martin, sorry to hear that the headset broke. But yeah, it’s beyond warranty, I can’t help that. Here’s a discount code though, for 20% off”.

A nice gesture, to be sure.

But as compensation for a fairly expensive headset that broke just as its warranty expired (and I was too late writing in – my bad), it’s not stellar treatment of a duped customer either. It’s good, but it doesn’t get a ‘wow’.

So, since I’ve been studying negotiation lately, I decided to practice a little. You know, have a little fun with the situation.

“I totally appreciate that, but given [reasons I described above] I think a 60% discount would be fair, don’t you agree? Especially that it’s the kind of thing that creates a lifelong customer :)”

He wouldn’t have it: “I can’t give you more than 20%”.

Fair enough, and kind enough.

But, a net loss for his company.

So far I’ve enjoyed buying from them – they’re very helpful and nice people.

And if he’d conceded to my (admittedly crazy) request, they would have become my go-to, don’t-care-about-others audio device provider, for as long as they’re in business. You give me 60% off? Hell yeah.

Which means I’d spend anywhere from 500 to, who knows, 5000, in the next 5 or 10 years. That’s a lot of revenue, and now they lost it because – and get this – I somehow don’t feel good about the situation.

It’s not because of anything they did wrong – it’s because they didn’t do what’s ‘right’, in order to make me feel in love with them.

They offered a gift, they treated me correctly – but they left me feeling not important to them, not wanted.

Which is kinda weird, but think about it:

It feels good to know that the provider we buy from wants us to stay, because it tells us that they’ll do their best work, in order to keep us around.

On a subconscious level, this is powerful stuff. It speaks of care, stewardship, commitment, long-term relationship… all the things that make for a healthy and surviving society, and therefore appeals enormously to the individual.

Giving discounts isn’t workable in all business models, but there’s always something you can do, some extra mile or half-mile, that you can go to surprise and delight people.

There’s always something you can do, or say, that tells people:

“I care about you, I’d love to treat you so well that you’ll be around forever”.



Also published on Medium.

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