A thought for January

January; Christmas has gone (hope it was a happy time for you) and now the new year is upon us. Thank goodness the days are getting longer and we have many good things to which we can look forward. The problem with January is that everyone is talking about goal setting on one hand and resolutions that involve deprivation on the other. Many people know that I am not in favour of new year resolutions – they are often forged because everyone is doing it; without serious thought about what we need to achieve and how all those things might fit together; too often they revolve around giving things up not taking things up. Framing ideas in terms of misery is no way to achieve. However, I am not going to bang on about that; if you want to speak about crafting meaningful goals you will achieve then please give me a call.

No; this month I want to tell you a sad business story from which I think we can be reminded of some vital truths.

A few weeks ago, I went to the theatre. A famous musical theatre star was touring, doing One Night Only. It was a cold Monday evening, but the theatre was full of people and the excitement was palpable. We were all settled in for a good evening. We were fans.

Except we weren’t in for a good evening. This famous star upset 1500 punters good and proper. She did not sing what we expected. We wanted big musical numbers maybe interspersed with annecdotes about the story or her heroes in the business. She picked songs she liked – not from the musicals, not from the world we knew her in – and she talked a great deal not about the shows for which she was famous, just general rather egocentric chat. You could feel how disappointed the audience was. The applause was very thin. The embarrassment was growing by the minute. My friend whispered, “If there was an interval we could go home” and she was right.

What went wrong?

It seems to me there were three things:

  1. We did not get the product we had bought. We had paid to be entertained by the genre in which we knew this singer. Musical theatre is about the show. Where did we see it, who with, who was in it? And by the way, these are the songs to remind us. In a way she could have performed any songs from any shows. However, random songs from other people’s songbooks did not cut it. It was like going into an ice cream parlour and being offered tomato soup!
  2. There was no customer loyalty reward. She did not remind us of her hey day and awaken our memories. She did not connect with us. She ignored why we were fans and just took us for granted. She did not deliver what we had ordered.
  3. No attention was paid to customer feedback. She was aware of the disappointment in the auditorium because the applause was almost non-existent but did not react to the signals. She just steamrollered on generating more discontent and embarrasment.

And the results:

  • Will we spend good money to see her again? Very unlikely.
  • Will we continue to buy her CDs? Unlikely.
  • Are we still fans? I am not; who knows about the others?

When I checked the reviews of the earlier dates on the tour they all said the same things. In effect the star continued to ignore the facts. Demosthenes said, “the easiest thing of all is to deceive yourself; for we believe whatever we want to believe”.

How true. And how very sad.

Why am I sharing this with you? I think there are business lessons.

  • Do we deliver what customers expect?
  • Do we value and respect our customers?
  • Do we react quickly to feedback?

We all know how hard it is to win a customer – let’s hang on to them in 2018!

2018 is going to be a great year – lots of happy customers! Buying and repeat buying the products and services they want; loving the good customer service they receive; seeing good reactions to feedback. Lots of good feeling and profit through getting the basics right.

Elizabeth Toogood

About Elizabeth Toogood

Elizabeth is a mixture of mentor, coach and non-executive director. She meets face to face with individuals and gives each of them total focus; there are no matrices or models into which they need to fit. The ethos of Elizabeth Toogood is to offer a high level of support and serious intellectual challenge.
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