In account service we are taught the key importance of managing the experience of the customer as they interact with our company. Surprisingly often, mastering this delicate art can come down to simply knowing when to shut up.
Recently I had the opportunity to help my youngest daughter buy her first “big girl” car. It was time to trade in her faithful vehicle from high school and college for something more mature. She set her sights on a particular small SUV and added in a wish list of options. One evening she and I ventured out to some local car lots to track down this elusive vehicle. At one particular dealership we were obliged to go through the sales show room accompanied by a sales rep before having access to the lot.
To our shock and delight, the vehicle of my daughter’s dreams was there. The stars aligned with price and specifications, and an emotional bond between buyer and SUV was sealed. As it turned out, only one hurdle stood in the way of closing this sale: the sales person.
In all my years in the service industry I have never dealt with a more unprofessional and crude sales associate. Inappropriate is the most polite way to describe her attitude, her remarks, her lack of product knowledge, and even her attire. I truly believe that another 5 minutes of enduring the mindless, self-absorbed chatter would have cost this person the commission on a significant sale. My daughter made the purchase in spite of, not because of, the experience.
As account people in the communications industry, we too should focus on the experience our clients have with us. Sure, we need to provide counsel, deliver projects on time and hit our budgets but if we’re not listening, not paying attention and the client is finding the process of working with us unpleasant, odds are high that even superb work won’t keep them coming back.
Recently a client sent over some cupcakes to the staff with a simple note of thanks for a job well done. This gesture proclaimed, “Thanks for making this intense experience as painless as possible for me.” It also gave me cause to reflect on the SUV experience that I never want to put my customers through, to whatever unintentional degree.