Why Did He Whisper?

This past weekend, I was in Home Depot looking for a somewhat uncommon electronics device. I figured it was a long-shot that they'd have it, but it was worth asking the young guy with the orange apron who happened to wander by aimlessly. Once he understood what I was asking for, he looked both ways (slyly), leaned closer to me, and whispered:

You should go to RadioShack."

I squinted and nodded knowingly -- as if I'd just been given an insider tip -- and thanked him.

But why the whisper?

If you don't have a product that I'm looking for, why would your co-workers or employer be upset with you for sending a loyal customer (I was in that dang Home Depot three separate times this weekend) to a semi-(at best)-competitor who might have exactly what I'm looking for?  You might be missing out on a couple of bucks (assuming I bought the not-quite-what-I-want alternative) but you're solidifying your position as the first place to go for knowledgeable advice and information.  You're sacrificing (just barely) short-term gains in exchange for strengthening the long-term relationship of trust with the customer.  Shouldn't that be behavior be rewarded, not frowned upon?

Maybe it is rewarded and this young guy just slept through that part of training.

Brian is Viget's co-founder and CEO. He does everything from advising our clients to building our conference tables with his bare hands in our Falls Church, VA, HQ.

More posts by Brian