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!

Syndication Permissions: If you’d like to use this article on your website or blog, you have our permission as long as you do not alter it in any way and you agree to include the following byline at the end of the article keeping active links back to this site, intact

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: for free marketing articles, tools, tips and templates…or to learn more about her books, products and services.

Contact Us

Contact Us