Monday, 28 October 2013


In the heady world of management self-improvement books, or the sort Daniel Pink writes, the theory of trying to “achieve 110% performance, of exceeding customer expectation and not just pleasing but delighting customers” is rife.

Occasionally when you are shopping you encounter recently coached behaviour from retailers that is so exceedingly welcoming you wonder if the shop assistant may not have taken a sudden libidinous fancy to you. It can be very alarming to be the victim of “customer delight”.

The Creative Director of Noggin who coach major companies in customer service, amongst other things, recently had a strange encounter at a workshop. He was advocating the power of building customer relationships when a young man on the workshop said:

I can’t see the point of all this.
I imagine there was the sort of silence when someone says something like “Hitler wasn’t all bad” or “climate change is actually a myth” or “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.
Heresy is hard to take. Had this character been feline he’d have looked like this:

Apparently he went on:
I work for an events company and I recommend locations. If it’s one a customer wants, can afford and the availability is OK he books it and I move on…he has no interest in my personality or anything else. He’s got what he wanted: job done.

Despite persuasive debate he was immovable. His view was that you present the deal, close it and move on. All this going that extra mile was a daft as Mo running an extra lap or driving your team hard when they are 3-0 up and the game’s almost over. He was a creature of online shopping rather than shopping at Selfridges.

I was reminded of actor Simon Callow’s story about reading a bedtime story to his God children. He described pulling out all the stops with dramatic voices. His God daughter tugged at his sleeve and whispered “do it simpler.

Good for her. Nearly always less is more. But not when it comes to manners, human feelings and brand building. The Apple store is about much more than naked transactions as is Nike Town as is the new Lego store in Brighton.

Not everything is a click away from a sale.

I recently heard a Chairman of an advertising agency lamenting the universal use of text or e-mail to communicate with clients. When you are going to be late or more expensive than you’d thought or you’ve mucked up then a face to face meeting or a telephone conversation might do the trick. An e-mail usually does just the reverse.

The issue is not whether you are going the extra mile.
It’s whether you’ve actually completed that mile race in the first place.

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