My friend Mary and I walked into the local Barnes and Nobles to find a copy of the Lonely Planet Istanbul book. I asked a salesperson where the travel books were. She responded, “They are upstairs near the café.” She was very specific and very helpful. As I started to go up the escalator, she asked “What are you looking for?” When I told her, she made a face that said, “Doesn’t look good.” When she checked the computer, she discovered she was correct; they didn’t have it in the store. She told me what other locations would be likely to have a copy and she offered to order me a copy.

So, all in all, she provided me really good customer service. She saved me a trip upstairs; she told me where I could purchase it. She was friendly and helpful.

How could this GOOD customer service have cost her a sale?

I left feeling unsatisfied and I wasn’t sure why. I received good service. Everything went easily, even if I wasn’t able to leave with my book. It was the discussion with Mary when we were walking out that clarified my discomfort and dissatisfaction. Mary noted that although the salesperson was very helpful, one step was missing. She didn’t ask me any questions about my need. She was in essence, an order taker. I asked for a book, she looked for the book and told me where I could get the book.

But if she had engaged me in conversation she might have been able to still sell me a book that met my needs. Here is how the conversation might have gone.  more……