Carnivale of Customer Service: The Great Tips Edition!

I went through an interesting exercise today...I reduced my 5,000 word Vanished manifesto (released in April last year) to 500 words. Thanks to Hugh for putting me up to the task. I actually didn't think I could do it, and maintain the points I was trying to get across. Turns out, after three hours of editing, I was wrong. Once I changed my goal, 500 was more than enough to make my my point.

Changing the goal was the key. The original piece was targeted toward someone with service issues to spark some thinking about what might be wrong, and what to do about it. The audience was pretty narrow...someone interested enough in service issues to read a 20 page booklet. The goal of the abridged version is completely attract attention and create the desire to read more. The prospective audience is much larger (could be thousands), so I can't put forth the longer version knowing most won't be interested (not to mention Hugh won't accept it...because he already had all this figured out). So, I gave them a snapshot. If someone finds it interesting, they'll probably take the time to read more and download the full version. And, at that point, there's a smaller audience who may want to learn even more...they'll call or write. Wala...niche marketing.

The same rules apply when you engage with your audience...whether it's your website, an ad, a sales presentation or a comment card. The bigger the audience and the less you know about what they want, the more simple your message needs to be.  Then, once you're engaged, you make a really easy path for them to follow to get what they want from you. If they don't want anything, that's okay. At least you haven't alienated them by wasting their time with nonrelevant messages up front.

By the way, here's the short version of the manifesto. The original is available in the sidebar by clicking on the eraser (or, by clicking this link).

Update: the abridged version is available as a download in the sidebar (or, click this link)

Vanished- Where Has Service Gone?

 With few exceptions, service has left the building. Here’s what to do about it...

  1. Remarkability- Be different.
    1. Passion- Be insanely passionate. Forget about money. Do what you can get people excited about. Act like a kid…play. Fear the day when someone tells you to stop.
    2. Romance- Create romance with fabulous design and an interesting story. Get emotional.
    3. Friendship- Stop selling…make friends. Build your business around extraordinary people. Be truthful. Don’t use gimmicks, or unwanted solicitations to convince someone to buy.  
  1. Marketing- Marketing is used to make-up for shortcomings. It’s spent on “icing” without concern for what’s in the “cake”. Spend more on people…less on “Marketing”.
  1. Adaptation- Service can’t be prescribed. Great experiences are improvised, made where the game is played out of bounds. Hire the most talented and trustworthy people. Get out of the way!
  1. Wrong Audience- People don’t change their minds. Making something to satisfy everyone is a bad idea…leads to average. Figure out what you can be the best at. Make that for a smidgeon of folks who think like you. 
  1. Big- Large companies forget about the advantage of small…forget how they outmaneuvered the big competitor…forget how they learned from failure…forget small issues lead to larger ones. By the time they see problems, study them, and execute….the little guy is ahead. Flatten your organization and hire great people.
  1. Compensation- Most employees don’t care because they don’t get paid to. They get paid to function…and get by. The fix:
    1. Get Winners- Takes guts, patience, compassion…money. You’ll pay more than everyone else, care for them like your children and listen, even if their ideas are       wrong.
    2. Winning- Put people in the right positions, train the mechanics and set-up just enough rules to free them to think. Mistakes will be made. But, it’s a small price for exceptional service and stomping your competition.
    3. Reward- People want to prosper. Reward them for taking a chance and making mistakes. When something works, give them bonuses…and genuine appreciation. When something doesn’t work, give them credit for trying.
  1. Robin Williams Effect- We remember Robin because of his delivery…the sweat, arm waving and facial expressions. Companies are so focused on making the best widget, they forget about what makes something really great…the people who deliver it. Fancy reception lobbies don’t relate with customers…people do.
  1. Care- The root cause of service problems lies in how you treat people. Start with serious      reflection on how you relate to employees, not on what they are doing wrong. Answer these honestly: How hard is it to attract people to work with you?; How quickly do people leave?; and, Are you losing or gaining customers? Successful companies put employees first, ahead of customers.
  1. SOP’s- Procedures should remove guesswork from recurring tasks. They shouldn’t stifle the ability to think. The right brain should be left free to infuse emotion into the customer      experience. Let your staff express individuality…that’s what’s memorable.