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!