I was in an autorickshaw with my friends – couple – we are heading towards Juhu. Under Andheri Bridge on the highway, the car stopped to turn off the signal. Almost immediately, a ten-year-old girl came to us with a cheerful smile and hazel eyes, clutching a bunch of the dozen roses. Seeing my friends, the pretty couple, she must have thought she had found the right customer. Out of curiosity and with a touch of sympathy, I asked her, ‘How much?”
‘Bees Rupiya (twenty Rupees),’ said the little girl with eyes that shone with a hope that belied the despair that surrounded her little world. I thought it was a steal and the girl might have thought it was a done deal. A thousand vehicles pass below that bridge every day but I was sure not much compassion would have come for the girl, weathered down in physique but steely in her resolve. Like many others, my friend did not look too interested; probably when you are truly and deeply in love, you don’t really need to buy flowers or chocolates to prove anything. At least my friend seemed to believe that and looked away as his girlfriend smiled at the little girl selling the bunch of roses.
The little girl with the roses insisted, “Sahab, le lo, bees rupiya ho to hai (please take it, it’s only twenty rupees).’ A couple of ‘nos’ and it was time for the signal to turn green. The disheartened girl knew this was yet another opportunity lost, but just as the autorickshaw started moving, she plucked out a rose from the bunch and handed it over to my friend. We kept saying ‘no’ but the girl said, “Kuch nahi sahab rakh lo didi ko aacha lagega. (No problem sir, please keep it, mam will like it.)’ And she just smiled and went away.
Girlfriend looked upset; perhaps she didn’t know whether to be angry with my friend who couldn’t even buy her a bunch of roses or to be thankful to the girl whom we had left at the signal. Sufficient to say that it wasn’t the best evening for the couple I was traveling with.
When we lost ourselves in the sea of cars on the highway, I could only think of the little girl. How often can we smile back and be generous to someone who has rejected us? Had she ever learned about customer relationship management? Or invest in advance in a client to create future income sources? Or what a little gesture does to people and their intentions of future purchase? I learned a lesson that day, and never sell it. A customer will come back to you If you gove him enough to do so. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an extraordinary product or killer pricing that your competition will be jealous of, to close a sale. All it takes is a bit of human touch; a touch which captures your customer’s heart. I don’t know about my friend but I know where to buy my next bunch of roses from – ever when I have no one, in particular, to give them to.