Jim Taggart

1 year ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Are You Generating Transactions Or New Customers?

Are You Generating Transactions Or New Customers?

Once upon a time, there was a CEO of a pet food company who wanted to increase his profits from making dog food. So he consulted the wisest men in his company, who knew about developing computer programs that would analyze the nutrition needs of dogs and the nutrition content of various grains and food supplements.

Eager to please the CEO, the wise men programmed their computers to come up with the optimum combination of grains and supplements that would meet the nutrition needs of man’s best friend at the lowest price.

But a strange thing happened.

During the first six months of selling optimum nutrition mix at the lowest price, profit margins at the company declined. The next quarter, profits dived once more. “What’s going on?” the CEO demanded.

Since his wise men didn’t have an answer, the CEO consulted the greatest expert in the land, who knew all about the mysterious science of systems analysis and who conducted an extensive study (at considerable expense).

When he was finished, the expert appeared before the CEO. “Have you discovered why our profits are declining?” the CEO demanded.

“I have,” said the expert, leaning on a thick report. “The dogs don’t like it.”

(As told in The Capitalist Philosophers, by Andrea Gabor)


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You enter a retail or personal services store. The staff ignore you, or mutter some form of incomprehensible greeting. You’re not asked if you’d like some help finding a product or what kind of service you’re seeking.

Or you ask where something is, only to be ignored. Or if you’re lucky, an outstretched hand motions somewhere towards the back of the store: “It’s back there along the wall, beside the whatchamacallit.” You search in vain, no one offers any help and you finally leave the store in frustration, vowing never to return.

Then there’s the famous scene of trying to return merchandise, to discover an onerous process involving numerous steps and a store manager whose approval is needed but who can’t be located. You finally succeed in making the return, only to feel somewhat guilty for having generated such an amount of work for staff.

There’s an endless of array of situations and stories one can recount when it comes to customer service. And that’s not even touching call centres, which raises the degrading of consumers to a new level. The point is the core of this problem is treating customers–human beings–as transactions.

The maxim “Treat others as how you would like to be treated” would seem to be the obvious solution. However, the obvious doesn’t always hold in real life. It makes one think about those individuals who provide crappy, rude service to customers, regardless of industry, and how they would react if they were on the receiving end.

It’s not rocket science. Yet it seems that most companies haven’t been getting it. They’ve provided mediocre service at best. And then there are those that have made a habit of stepping on customers, wondering why their business faltered as sales slide.

Then there’s the minority: companies that truly get it when making the connection between outstanding customer service and making money, and lots of it. And along the way customers are happy and more than satisfied, telling their families and friends about their experiences. The beauty behind this is that this is FREE advertising.


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Examples abound of companies that advertise heavily, spending huge amounts of money yet when customers walk into, say, a motor vehicle showroom, the sales staff are indifferent, rude or arrogant. Given how competitive the automotive industry is, I’ve yet to understand why automotive dealerships haven’t figured this out.

To paraphrase political pundit James Carver, who as Bill Clinton’s campaign advisor in 1992 said in reference to President H.W. Bush, “It’s about the economy, stupid!” Well, for the purpose of this post, “It’s about customer service, stupid!”

The past four months have turned business–small and large–upset down as the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has raged around the planet. Big companies have become insolvent, seeking creditor protection while they attempt to scale down and restructure their operations; many smaller firms are clinging by their fingernails (some being allowed to re-open under tight restrictions while others, depending on jurisdiction, still can’t open); and other businesses have dug into their creativity to find ways to keep some revenues coming in.

It’s this last point on creativity that has shown countless examples of impressive human ingenuity during the pandemic. And it’s this ability to adapt quickly and experiment with new ideas that will be one positive outcome in the business community, in the context of the human tragedy and economic destruction from the pandemic.

The key to providing superior customer service is learning how to make an emotional connection with each customer. The past four months has shown that businesses can indeed do this. Customers will remember those service providers who improvised, adapted, and maintained that emotional connection with their customers during this difficult period. 

After all, we’re human beings who are seeking more than just transactions.

If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?
– Will Rogers


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