I have a friend.
I actually have a couple, but this is about one friend in particular.
She’s passionate about good service.
It’s her reason for being.
So much so, that she started a business training customer service reps.
But she was hitting a brick wall with getting clients on board.
Every time she had a bad experience in a restaurant, hotel, coffee shop or store, she’d recognize an opportunity for improvement.
Armed with truth and justice on her side, she’d march over to the owner of the place and offer her services.
“My experience was terrible,” she’d say. “The service was really shoddy, your staff were unfriendly and I had a thoroughly rotten time. But don’t worry! I can fix it for you!”
Without fail, she’d come up with resistance. Instead of getting them eager to improve, they’d close up and get introspective, or worse.
A lot of them were even offended and told her to get lost.
I just had lunch with the best salesman I know.
He works part-time in a highly competitive, cut-throat industry. One I used to work in.
In his job, if you don’t sell then you don’t get paid. If you don’t get paid, you get fired (if you haven’t already quit.)
He’s been doing it for a decade, or maybe longer.
And although he only works part-time, he out-bills his full-time colleagues every single month.
I’ve been trying to bottle his secret sauce for as long as I’ve known him.
But I’ve never succeeded.
Today I got a glimpse of the ingredients when he told me the story of the scorpion and the frog.
It’s a story that’s been around since people started telling stories. You’ve probably heard it. If not, here’s the short version:
I spent today with an online “entertainment” company, preaching the importance of customer love.
(Online entertainment is a euphemism, of course. But it’s not what you think, I promise.)
This organisation follows the triedand tested model of getting their leads to become prospects in return for a freebie. They then convert some of those prospects into paying customers.
It’s a lucrative business. A couple of percentage points of improvement on those front-end touch points – lead-to-prospect conversion or prospect-to-client conversion – has an exponential impact on revenue.
I was working with the customer service team, putting a “welcoming committee” in place that personally greets new users on the phone.
The aim of these calls is to get a deposit.
The process is about making them feel happy to do just that.
Here’s what we came up with:
I used to go out with a girl from West Cork in the bucolic south of Ireland.
They speak thick and fast down there. The first time I went to visit her family she had to translate for me.
Which was embarrassing.
But not as embarrassing as the first time I met her mother.
Most days I walk a couple of miles.
It’s easy to do here in Malta – we’ve got oodles of seaside promenade and the weather makes it workable.
Each day I walk past pigeons: hundreds of them.
We don’t have seagulls (I’ve gone off seagulls since I saw one cannibalising another in Barcelona.)
The pigeons are part of the scenery.
I’d probably notice if they were gone, but while they’re still here they blend into the background: an intrinsic but easy-to-ignore part of the scenery.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a canary (or a budgerigar, or parrot: ornithology’s not my strong point.)
Anyway, there was this bird with really bright plumage and a cocky gait, strutting his (or her: I’ve never sexed a budgie) stuff.