The Economies of Soul
August 18, 2008
Regardless of what you sell and who you are, you’ve got to find reasons to connect. That requires thinking differently about people. How many folks do you know like being treated as just another factor of production, or an anonymous consumer? None? I thought so. People don’t enjoy being known as a human resource or Customer X, they rather be recognised as individuals.
That may require a shift, a need to tap the hidden treasures of the extended organizational tribe and its members and to start competing on the basis of feeling and fantasy, emotion and imagination.
I have two extreme examples of this. Recently, I walked into a financial service organisation and came face-to-face with a receptionist, a young woman who I see week after week when I visit the company’s corporate communications department. Each time her ritual with me is the same. She picks up the telephone and watches me with a blank stare.
"What’s your name again," she inquires.
"It’s the same that I have been using for the past six weeks," I reply.
"Do you know how many people I see, it’s tough to remember the names of everyone" she says, her eyebrows pointed in upwards in two perfect asterisks.
So there I was, nameless and faceless to the person on the frontline. In my organisation that person would be fired, immediately.
But it makes my second encounter a richer example. Last month, I walked into DH Gifts with a tight budget to purchase gift for a departing board of communicators. "You haven’t been here in a while, the shop assistant asked with a wide smile." She then took the time to understand my budget and what I wanted to say with the gifts. I was so pleased I spent all my money in the store. At the cash register, the cashier stapled my bills. Simple as this task was, few stores do it, even though it is a great service to customers. As the sales person was about to put the gifts into the bag, she asked: "Would you like them wrapped?" I questioned my hearing even as she began searching for bows and paper. The service was free and as I left the store all I could think was such outstanding service is deserving of my significantly heavier Christmas spend.
The truth is people expect good stuff. To get good value for my money I don’t even have to step outside my door. All I need is Google. So being good is no longer good enough. Customer satisfaction is not enough. To achieve success you’ve got to surprise people. To attract them. To addict them.
Your actions don’t have to be grandiose, you could, for example, be the only store in a mall that staples receipts. Whatever you do, appeal to the emotions and heart of your customers because focusing on the hardcore aspects, the bits and the mechanics, is a sure fire way to become extinct.