My radio reception was poor yesterday morning on the way to the store. I figured out later that evening that the Chevron car wash I used the night before sheared off my antenna (a $450 repair). I wondered if when they find broken car parts they understand the value of the customer they just lost. Some stores that quantify such things think of a customer as worth 5-years of their average sales. Figure I spend $50/week there for gas and a wash and that's $13,000 in sales they just lost. Ouch.
I'm guessing our game store customers spend about $300/year, on average, so that's about $1,500. We don't calculate this to put monetary values on people or to rank or judge them, but as a learning tool to understand how we invest in customers and their value to the business. For example, if you gain 10 customers from a $1000 add campaign, that's a total value of $15,000 in future sales for a $100 per person investment. That's really good. On the other hand, piss off a customer because you won't let them return a $10 game, and you've really screwed the pooch. Worse, annoy a customer and they'll tell an average of nine other people about their bad experience, according to guerrilla marketing experts. That's like that $1000 advertising campaign in reverse.
Companies that know this still make mistakes, but they go way out of their way to correct problems, even if the situation seems hopeless. If the customer never shops with you again, perhaps the free paint set you drop off will impress them enough to at least not tell their nine friends about what a jerk you are. They may even sing your praises, since everyone screws up now and then.