This past weekend I accompanied my wife to the mall to return a few items. This is a pretty unusual occurrence, but that’s another story. This story focuses on the importance of customer (and client) service and how amazingly fast poor service can sour even the strongest relationship. This story is about how a long-term relationship can come crashing down in a matter of minutes. And a reminder to me that companies like RTi that put client service and support their clients’ success above all else are doing the right thing for their businesses.

Our first return was at Eddie Bauer where my wife (Lory) was returning a jacket she’d purchased online. No problems with the return, but for some reason, the computer system rounded the refund to one penny less than what she had paid. The cashier noted the difference and made a joke about it. Lory, of course, didn’t think it was so funny. Not that the penny was important, but on the principle that if you return merchandise than you should receive back the same amount you paid. So there was a little kidding back and forth with the cashier, but when it was evident that the cashier had no intention of refunding the penny, it wasn’t so funny anymore. My wife suggested she open the drawer and refund the penny, but the cashier “couldn’t” do that – the “system wouldn’t allow it”. So while the actual value of the penny meant nothing, my wife walked away feeling the store had stolen from her. It might as well have been $100. And she assumed this happens to all customers, so she started doing the math to try to figure out how this might provide additional revenue for Eddie Bauer over a year’s time. I doubt she will ever shop at Eddie Bauer again. And all because the cashier either didn’t care or felt she wasn’t empowered to open the drawer and refund the penny that clearly should have been refunded and work it out with the “system” later.

Lesson to be learned: Never (and I mean never) let your internal company systems, processes, or procedures dictate how a customer is treated; do the right thing when the customer is standing there and work it out internally later.

In the meantime, we always keep in mind that customers are our lifeblood and must be treated as such. That is the philosophy that drives our client service team at RTi. We know we are here to serve and we know there are others that are ready to take our place should we fall short. But, we’ve been providing top notch service for over 30 years and while the industry is in the midst of change, providing excellent client service is one element of our business that I am quite certain is here to stay.

-David Rothstein, CEO