Friday, February 18, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Try a Little Seltzer for the Road Ahead

Recently I posted this on Facebook: “Today my local grocery had customers cracking up in the aisles when an employee on the PA system said: Welcome Publix shoppers to the best Friday deals ever (ever ever ever)...our deli just pulled rotisserie chicken from the oven and we got homemade bisque (bisque bisque)...As always, thank you for being with us today, where shopping is a pleasure (pleasure pleasure)....Gotta love a store with its own PA echo.”

To me that's great customer service. It was such a small, silly thing, but the smiles lingered on everyone's face, the employees were clapping and laughing, and they just proved their tagline.

In the same week, one of my clients said something very profound: “It’s not just that we should keep doing things better, but we need to do the same things differently. What’s more, we need to try and do different things.”

So what does that mean? I’ve put together a general list:

• Give your customers, your constituents, a different experience of you. To say you want to “re-engage” them means that some organizations will do what they’ve always done, only with greater frequency and intensity, but is that necessarily the best strategy? One client plans to go beyond sending thank-you form letters to their donors and instead start inviting them to pick-your-brain meals with national luminaries closely tied to their organization.

• Don’t just invest in transparency but aim for constant, porous dialog. New programming frequently fails because the targeted audience was never asked in the first place if such programs were even relevant, much less appealing or convenient. The best way to escape formulaic tactics is to ask your customer what they need most.

• Don’t forget to delight. One of the classic episodes of 1970s’ “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was when the TV station crew struggled to maintain gravitas at the funeral of a clown whose credo was “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”

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