Saturday, March 21, 2009

Power of change

Most of us would have definitely had a situation where we could not complete a purchase because we had no change or had to take some meaningless toffees instead of the change. Having or getting change has not been an issue as wide spread in the fast few years. However in the late 90’s this was a major issue and has given lots of headaches to retailers, especially the new organized chain stores.

During that period a regular customer who used to frequent one such chain store used to expect change as a given. Most cases she would get the change and a few times the staff would ask if she had change and she would grumble and search and try to find change. One day when the staff asked if she had change, customer suddenly lost her temper and started shouting. The others in the line were getting quite restive and it looked like there would soon be a major scene.

Just then another staff who seemed like the store manager came up to the lady and said that she would help. After patiently listening to the lady she had a long talk to this lady explaining about why there is a problem with change and what all they are doing to address this. I was watching to see if the manager’s talk would resolve the problem. Obviously she was quite persuasive and the customer calmed down, found some change, billed her purchases and left.

I congratulated the manager on her customer service and went away. A few weeks later the manager spotted me at the store and walked up to share an astonishing end to this story. The customer had returned the next day with lots of change bundled in her kerchief and gave it to the manager and said “I never realized how much of change I end up having in my house, till you explained how difficult it was to get change. So I thought let me give it to you and help”. I left the store impressed with the manager and with the customer who helped herself and other customers with her small effort.

I am sure that many of us would discover lots of change at our homes if we had a look around. Maybe we should also do what that customer did and give it to our regular store. Or at least carry it with us. Imagine how much money would be lying unused as change!!

A retail trivia – These chains as part of their efforts to get adequate change would approach several innovative sources apart from their banks, the Tirupati temple being one of them. Based on what the manager was telling I gathered that staff would go every week to Tirupati and return with bags of coin. Another interesting source was the various beggar groups. Yes, were amongst the main suppliers of change and made money giving change. They would give change worth Rs. 97 or 98 and get Rs. 100 in return.

-- This article is a part of a series, I wrote for "The Hindu, Retail Plus".


Priya Dayabaran said...

dear rajesh...

very interesting articles.. shows your passion towards retailing.. "Voting is not a right, It's a DUTY" article made us to think..

Priya (AVTAR) & Gopi (Sutherland)

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