Return on Happiness

I’ve just left the Estee Lauder counter in Lord & Taylor’s. I’m shaking my head.


Lauder is having one of their special offers – buy $39.50 worth of product and get a free gift. My Mom uses their products and like most people loves the free gift. This time (very clever) you get to customize the gift. You get to pick from two color palettes (warm or cool) and a choice of daytime or nighttime creams.


We walked over to the relatively small counter where there three (count them – three) sales people. Not one of them noticed us nosing around. I had to ask “Are you having a special offer today?”




“Uh – can you tell us a little about it?”


She gave us a brief description, nothing exciting at all in her voice, and void of some important details. My Mom, recovering from a broken hip, and leaning on a cane said great – I need some powder. The young later brought out the powder and stated that the powder cost $29.50.




A moment of silence and then I got it – it was probably not enough to qualify for the gift. So I needed to move the conversation along to the next level I guessed.  “And what do we need to spend to get a gift?”


$39.50  More silence and one of those glances that suggested that perhaps we were interrupting something very important that she needed to do. It was momentary, but my body picked it up.


Now my Mom picked up the ball. She looked at me and said, “Need anything?”


“I really could use a lipstick.”


“Okay.” And then, nothing.


“Where ARE your lipsticks?” I asked, really wanting to bolt out of the store screaming.


“Over there.”


And so I climbed over a cart that was blocking the way, and then moved it out of the way so my Mom might make her way around the road block too.


I quickly picked a lipstick. Now it’s time for Mom to pick the components of her gift – the young lady asked my not-hearing-too-well Mom. “Do you want warm or cool colors?” Not knowing what she was getting into, or what the young lady meant she picked one. When I brought to her attention after seeing the colors that she wasn’t going to like the beige lipstick we asked the young lady to switch it. What resulted was a deep sigh and look of distain.


Had I been there alone, it would have been the moment of truth, where I either told the truth about what I was seeing or left the store, but I stayed for the rest of the transaction.


To my utter amazement, after we paid, the woman looks up and says in a somewhat convincing voice, “Thank you so very much. I really appreciate your business, thanks for coming in today.” The amazing part – she said it all while maintaining a scowl on her face.  It made me feel quite ill, it was that strange.


Next time you express appreciation – please remember to inform your face.


If you want to learn more about inspiring the kind of culture that would NEVER (I repeat NEVER) produce this kind of behavior join the experts at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management where we’ll be teaching you how to make the customer really FEEL like #1.

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