Customer Service Questions That Work: Did You Find What You Wanted?


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I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so when the sugar substitute, Equal, came along, I was an early adopter.

Of course, the only problem with Equal is the price per packet, which I believe is about three times as expensive as the next well-known brand, the one in the pink wrappers. Naturally, I have to have expensive tastes. To me, the blue stuff tastes better.

For years, I’ve been buying Equal in the restaurant size box, with 2500 packets. This lasts me for months, and it brings the price in line with the pink stuff. But now, the wholesale to the public market I use never seems to have it in stock.

I’ve tried three different locations in the same day, hunting for it, to no avail. I’ve interrogated stockers, asking them when shipments were due. It’s getting to the point that I think it may be easier to find a large, cheap, rent controlled apartment in Manhattan.

Down the street is a unit of Trader Joe’s, a small boutique market. They don’t have Equal, but they do have a customer service philosophy. When you reach the register, they ask, “Did you find what you wanted?” and they seem genuinely interested in hearing and responding to your answer.

They believe if they don’t have your item in stock at the time you need it, they messed up and should make inventory adjustments. The other place, which I’ll call Discount Barn, treats you as if you’re a hapless fool who just seems to choose the wrong time to come in.

It’s your dumb luck that you can’t snare one of these elusive boxes, so buy a bunch of smaller packages and pay four times as much.

I’m at the point where I’m going to call Equal, the company, and learn if I have a chance to get the big boxes elsewhere.

Failing this, I may just have to drop this item from my diet, because trying to find it, while encountering such poor service, is leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman © 2006

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph. D. from USC's Annenberg School, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: .


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