Never Underestimate the Value of Your Own Experience

When I was in graduate school, I took a services marketing class. Among other things, the professor required that we, his students, document three positive and / or negative consumer occurrences we experienced each week.

Specifically, we were to describe what happened; how it made us feel; whether we were disappointed, satisfied or delighted; and our suggestions for improvement.

At first, I viewed this as just another task on my “to-do” list, but soon discovered what a valuable learning exercise it turned out to be! I continue documenting my experiences in a log book (it’s a lifesaver when I want to provide concrete example that help illustrate a point) and recommend this activity to all my clients.

As part of my preparation for this article I decided to randomly select an entry I’d included. So, I pulled out my log binder, shut my eyes, opened it up and pointed my index finger anywhere on the page.

Here’s what I had written:

Description: My company is getting ready to participate in a trade show so I decided to buy some “trash and trinkets” (giveaways) personalized with our company’s logo. Remembering that I had recently received a direct mail piece from a local company I decided to give them a try. I located the letter and was immediately impressed with their ad copy. It contained all of the “right stuff” such as:

  • Great features translated into wonderful customer benefits.
  • Powerful headlines.
  • Plausible testimonials.
  • Strong offers.
  • Promises of quick turnaround times.

Thrilled to have such a seemingly top-notch company so close by, I hauled out my corporate credit card, ready to buy.

The first two times I dialed their number I got a busy signal. Since that’s a rarity these days, I figured I had entered the number incorrectly. After double-checking, I redialed. This time my call was answered by “robot man”, or so it seemed, who said:

Hi, you’ve reached Company X. We’re not here now but you know the drill. Leave a message and we’ll call you back.

Question: How Did That Make You Feel?

Answer: Not Warm and Fuzzy… More:

  • Annoyed – I had to dial their number three times before I even got through to their voice mail system.
  • Disappointed – Their advertisement had created a picture in my mind of a professional company dedicated to delivering quality products and superior customer service. Apparently they hadn’t made the connection between customer care and answering their phones!
  • Confused – Why on earth would any business owner spend the time and effort involved in creating a first rate marketing piece only to “blow it” when a potential customer shows interest? It boggles the mind.

Question: What should they have done to make the experience better?

Answer: Answer the phone and / or change their greeting.

So what’s the outcome; the bottom line?

The “AAAA Company”:

  • Wasted money.
  • Lost a sale.
  • Lost a referral.
  • Gained a detractor.
  • Lost profits.
  • Missed the opportunity to get a new customer.
  • Missed a chance for a repeat purchase.

Moral of the Story? Every single time you communicate with a prospect or customer, it counts. Small things may be worth a fortune!


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Mary Eule Scarborough, an unassailable marketing expert and thought leader, helps businesses of all sizes get and keep more profitable customers. She is also:

  • A former Fortune 500 marketing executive, …
  • The founder of two successful small businesses, …
  • An award-winning speaker, …
  • A Certified Guerrilla Marketing coach, and …
  • Co-author of three books (to-date): “The Procrastinator’s Guide to Marketing“, (Entrepreneur Press, November, 2007), “Mastering Online Marketing” (Entrepreneur Press, January, 2008), and “Guerrilla Marketing On The Internet” (Entrepreneur Press, July, 2008).
  • Qualified with a BA in Journalism / English from the University of Maryland, and …
  • Qualified with a Masters degree in marketing from The Johns Hopkins University.

Log onto her website: www.StrategicMarketingAdvisors.com for free marketing articles, tools, tips and templates…or to learn more about her books, products and services.

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