They did NOT say that

I can't believe they said that“Watson, have you ever had the strong desire to punch someone in the face with no warning?”

This was a start to the conversations between The Effective Detective and I that was quite unusual. Curious, I gave an answer that I thought might elicit a further response.

“I suppose occasionally sir.”

“That is a non-answer Watson, but rather than spar with you verbally, I will merely assume you have had such a feeling, and move on to my story and point,” The Detective answered, before continuing on as promised. “You see Watson, what brought about this question was an exchange I was witness to between a young marketer concerned about the marketing of their company’s product, and a presenter on the topic of digital marketing, whom I feel should have known better.”

“A start that does not indicate the necessity of violent action, sir,” I interjected.

“Hush Watson, you are interrupting. there is more. The young marketer was trying to grasp the concept of a lead capture form on their website. When what this could actually do for them finally broke through the fog, they exclaimed, ‘So they fill out this form and give me permission to hound them!’ I of course was appalled. I turned toward the presenter waiting for him to perhaps break into an indulgent smile and explain to this poor confused young marketer the error in using the word ‘hound’. To my shock and dismay, he instead agreed with them! Something to the effect of ‘Yes, hound them.’ The Detective paused while he placed his face into his hands.

“Perhaps sir, you are over reacting. Perhaps, they said such a thing in jest,” I jumped in, eager to come to the defense of two people I had never laid eyes upon.

The Detective shot me a look before responding. “Perhaps Watson, perhaps. Luckily I contained my first impulse which was to roundly curse both of them out. I then contained my second impulse to stand up and noisily walk out on the presentation. Even if they were joking, there were 40 or so people in the room that based on their questions, were, for the most part, totally uneducated on the subject of digital marketing, and especially email marketing. For them, that statement could have very well been considered as validation of the deed. Hound them indeed!”

“What might you have said differently, sir?” I asked giving The Detective an opening to provide an alternative.

“Obviously Watson, if said young marketer had made such a stupid statement to me, I would have politely informed them that people do not give you permission to hound them. Hounding them is the surest way to make nary a penny via email, and to develop a reputation as a spammer. No, people give you permission to start a conversation, a relationship with them. It is that initial trust that allows you to deepen the business relationship, to position yourself as an authority, and, once that trust is deep enough, to consider doing business with you as a trusted advisor. Pursue the people that have asked to do business with you, that tiny fraction that are ready to buy now. But your list? Treat them patiently, and they will reward you. Treat them as property, or cash-cows, and they will punish you, leave you, and they certainly won’t do business with you.”

“Sage council indeed, sir,” I responded, knowing the discussion had come to an end.

“Just so, Watson, just so.”

Favorites

Woman relaxes in a marble tiled bath tub.“Sir,” I started out, taking the initiative in our current discussion. “I must admit to some confusion regarding the concept of favoritism.”

“Confound it Watson, you are slipping! I require a more specific query,” The Effective Detective answered with an annoyed tone to his voice.

“Sorry sir. In particular I am thinking about how companies tend to favor those who spend more with them, or invest in particular programs, versus doing the same with individuals in a work environment or perhaps even friends, a practice that is often frowned upon. My confusion is if one is right how can the other be wrong?” I clarified.

“Much better Watson, a much more specific and answerable question,” The Detective gave a slight smile. “As to your answer, I believe your confusion while understandable is misplaced. You are comparing apples to oranges. Favoritism as you put, in a personal setting is something I have no desire to address, and I leave that discussion to philosophers. Business on the other hand, both with customers and employees or contractors is a much simpler matter to deal with, since the concept of fairness is rather black and white,” The Detective took his characteristic pause allowing for an interjection or question from me.

“Why wouldn’t fairness enter into the equation in business matters, sir?” I asked

“It does, but not in the classic moral sense. You are being fair in business when you are being honest and not cheating someone. This has nothing to do about seeing different employees or customers as equal in value to each other. Customers are providing you revenue. The more revenue they bring in – without causing you undue stress or cost, the better you should treat them. They have earned it, and most likely they will respond in kind. Employees are providing you a service. If they go above and beyond they should be given special treatment as well. These are business transactions, not social interactions,” The Detective to take a breath, allowing me to get a word in edgewise.

“So you are saying that favoritism in the business environment both with customers and employees is a good thing, and in fact should be promoted?” I asked.

“I thought I just said that,” snapped The Detective with more than a trace of irritation. “Remember though, you still must treat all of your customers and employees fairly and honestly. Having favorites does not mean giving someone who gives you less money inferior service, or denying an employee something just because they happen to have a lower level job. Service and respect are given freely to all.  Perks are given to those who contribute something extra to your success, and although the perks can vary in value, they should be freely given at all levels of contribution.

“Something I wish the cell phone companies would learn,” The Detective finished, throwing his latest bill on the floor, closing our conversation.

The Real Experience

The Case of the Elusive Experience

“Watson, what do you believe to be the ‘Customer Experience’,” asked The Effective Detective, beginning another of our business discussions.

“Well sir, I would have to say that it is related to the service that customers receive. How they are greeted, what happens after the sale, handling of problems, etc.,” I answered.

“Excellent Watson! I believe you have defined almost perfectly what most people believe is the ‘Customer Experience’,” exclaimed The Detective.

“I sense a but… sir,” I cautiously responded.

“How observant of you Watson,” The Detective said, giving me a slight smile that indicated something else was coming. “You are quite right. You see, whilst that definition is 100% completely correct, it is also incomplete.”

“Incomplete, sir? Perhaps I left out a few additional things that can be done in customer service,” I replied, feeling a little bit of confusion.

“Perhaps Watson, but that is not what I was referring to. What is incomplete is that you refer to the experience only as it relates to customer service. In fact, the customer experience encompasses not only the service the customer received in purchasing, but also what they purchase, how they feel about themselves, and most importantly the emotional response they have to the overall process. When those factors are brought in as well you start to see something about this experience that most people miss.

“When there are discussions regarding customer experience they are almost always rated good or bad based on specific service metrics – ‘was the customer properly greeted in the appropriate amount of time’, ‘were all of their questions handled properly’, and low marks in any of those metrics downgrade the rating. I will admit, there is something to be said for such scientific analysis, other than those metrics tend to be one-size-fits-all, which as you know Watson, I absolutely loath.

“The fact of the matter though is that the customer experience is an overall emotional experience. It is an expectation that the business itself can define, and the customer can choose to engage or not.”

“I am not sure what you are saying sir, an example perhaps?” I quickly interjected, taking advantage of a slight pause.

“Certainly Watson, let me select one that most everyone could identify with: shopping at Walmart. I don’t think I would be stretching things if I said most people do not shop at Walmart for the excellent service they receive. Yet, there is an experience there. It is really quite simple: People go to Walmart to have a wide selection of cheap stuff that they can buy at rock bottom prices. They leave pleased that they have saved money. They do not walk into Walmart expecting a shopping concierge to guide them around the store to help them choose their packages. They do not expect the clerks to enthusiastically greet them or better yet to recognize them, and inquire as to the success of their shopping excursion. No. They expect to find low prices on most likely cheap stuff. That is exactly what Walmart provides, and not much more, and they have been amazingly successful.

“This is why some, albeit not all, existing small businesses around a new Walmart tend to fail. They try to duplicate an experience that their buying power with vendors will not allow. They do not try to design an experience that would attract some aspect of their market. If the market is there for a different experience and it is marketed correctly, one could survive in the shadow of a Walmart, but I can guarantee you Watson, offering ‘better customer service’ will rarely be the deciding factor, there must be an emotional trigger that is more important than price, or whatever it is one is competing against, ” The Detective finished.

“It is never easy is it sir?” I sighed.

“Quite Watson. Simple in its way, but business is never easy.”

The Mystery of The Incomplete Explanation Part 2

“Where were we Watson,” started The Detective.

“I believe you were just going to start a further explanation of point two from a previous discussion, sir. Lost Customers to be precise.” I quickly replied.

“Quite Right. Actually, this one in a way, is self-explanatory. It astounds that more business people don’t see it.

“You see Watson, in the haste to get new customers, because everyone knows they are the life-blood of a business, business people often forget they already have a source of said ‘life-blood’: people who have already bought from them. Unfortunately, too often they either take them for granted – assuming that because they were so impressed with the service and/or product they received, they will come running back when they need something additional, or they don’t think of them at all, acting as if all customers are new customers. Of course, the result is the customer does not think of them either.

“A truly ‘lost’ customer must be approached cautiously. After all, there has probably been no real communication for some time. But you must find a way to reestablish contact. Direct mail, email, the method may depend on the data you have. Here is where caution comes in. Suddenly pummeling them with reminders that you are still in business and why the heck have they not visited you, or the same old flyers you send out would be counter productive. These are people who have done business with you before. They want to – and may already,  think of themselves as special, as having done you the kindness of having done business with you – no matter that you may feel you saved their business, made them look good to their client or boss, or simply given them a great deal! Your perception is irrelevant.

There must be some kind of offer to entice these lost souls. It needn’t be anything large, just something of value. After all, they were your customer once, if you provided a quality product and good service, they probably would most likely welcome the contact; a much easier sale I would say. In all probability it wasn’t that they did not want to do business any longer, but, like for most of us, life simply got in the way, and since the business did nothing to reestablish the relationship, it slipped away like an old High School friend,” finished The Detective with a flourish.

“How poetic!” I exclaimed.

“Yes, well, sometimes it is easy to get carried away Watson, let us not dwell on that,” replied The Detective sheepishly.

“Of course, sir. Shall we take a break before going into another mystery?” I asked, giving him an opportunity to slip away from the subject.

“Excellent idea, Watson, Excellent idea!”