Our family just bought a new car, and we already love it. The only problem is… within 24 hours of buying it, the battery mysteriously died – twice. We didn’t leave the lights on. We didn’t mess with the electrical system. It just died.

So we called the dealership where we bought it. (It’s actually the dealership where we’ve bought our last two cars.) We told them the situation and they graciously gave us a loaner car to use while they worked on the vehicle (which fortunately was still under warranty – which thankfully means free repairs). Once they tested our car, they told us the battery was fine. Fully charged. Running well. In fact, a brand new one was put in just a few months ago. They said we could pick up the car the next day.

But this still didn’t sit well with us…

If the battery died twice in one day for no reason, who’s to say it wouldn’t randomly die again? We didn’t like the thought of driving around, constantly wondering when our car would choke. On top of that, this problem happened only 4 days before our family (with 3 tiny kids) was scheduled to take a 2,300 mile road trip from Chicago to Austin and back. Not good. I’m not sure how you feel about getting stranded in the middle of Arkansas with 3 children under the age of 5, but it’s not exactly at the top of my bucket list :-)

If at first you don’t succeed…

So I called back and asked if they could put in a new battery – even though the old one tested fine. At first the salesman refused. He said the old battery was good and there was no need to fix it. Then I explained to him our situation (super long road trip, 3 little kids, don’t want to get stranded in Nowheres-ville, Missouri – etc.) But he still wouldn’t replace it.

I got off the phone, but then decided to call back.

This time I got a little more “squeaky” to hopefully get some additional grease. I told the sales rep that we just paid a substantial amount for a brand new car, and it would probably be a wise customer service move to replace a $100ish battery.

For whatever reason – that did the trick.

A strategic change of heart

Maybe it was the phrase “customer service,” or perhaps explaining the cost comparison (how much we paid for a new car vs. them replacing a $100 battery) changed his mind. But either way, we got what we needed. It took a little bit of wrangling, but in the end, the dealership made a smart move. They sacrificed a tiny investment to satisfy a long-term customer. They lost a few bucks to save what could end up being tens of thousands in lifetime value from our family.

The lesson here is simple: Don’t lose a customer over spilled milk. These days there are so many options for your customers to choose from, that if they don’t like you for any reason, they can go somewhere else.

Just don’t give them a reason to leave.

Even if it means losing a couple bucks along the way.