How can an 11 year old wanting to buy Nerf Darts teach us how to maintain both personal and business relationships? I have one word for you: Walgreen’s. Is it just me or does it seem that when you go to buy the $.39 toothpicks advertised in the weekly sales flier, the item is either sold out, scans at the wrong price or that particular location never has and never will carry toothpicks. As I went into Walgreen’s today I did not intend to buy Nerf Darts although my son did mention that he would like some extra ammo for an upcoming birthday party. As I went down the toy aisle I saw a closeout on the exact replacement darts he uses. Along with my other purchases, I brought them up to the register. Two out of the 5 items scanned incorrectly and my total came to $54. Upon closer examination I was incorrectly overcharged nearly $25. When I questioned the manager for the correct price, her answer was, I can refund your money but I can’t sell you these items at the marked, posted price–company policy (Whatever the price scans at is what Walgreen’s will sell at). This is a classic case of a self-defeating policy. While a computer managed system of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) certainly can be efficient, it does no good if a manager does not have the authority to over-ride and use her own judgement. I left the store and will contact the manager tomorrow.
As usual I started to frame my experience and question what I could learn. In a poll conducted by IBM among 1500 CEO’s from 66 countries and 33 industries more than 60% responded that the singular element of CREATIVITY will help companies navigate successfully through the increasingly complex global economy. (here is a link to the poll http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/31670.wss ) The situation described above happens in business even at the best companies. However the Walgreen’s manager did not use creativity to respond to an error and take advantage of an opportunity to make me a loyal customer. The Walgreen’s manager had a chance to offer me some type of goodwill but dismissed the opportunity using company policy as a damaging crutch. While there may be many codes of company policy that are valid, make sure that the freedom to be creative is a part of your business culture.
Go out there and be creative, the worst that can happen is a mistake. I love learning from mistakes. At this point my mistakes are too many to count but I will get up tomorrow, learn and try to do better.
Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends.