Growing stronger on what’s ignored
IWCE 2000 is over, but not all the business lessons were delivered at the show. Ignoring admonitions of friends and co-workers about damaged luggage, over-bookings and flight delays, I flew to and from Las Vegas on a Phoenix-based airline that I’ll just refer to as “A.W.” Sure enough, all four trip legs were over-booked, and the planes never left a terminal until every seat was crammed with human cargo. The delay leaving Phoenix for Las Vegas was longer than the actual flying time. When belted into a space smaller than the average coffin, with no fresh air forthcoming and the sun beating down, people get a little testy.
What really irritated my seat mate and myself was at no point did the crew attempt to explain the delay or even apologize for the inconvenience. The flight attendants refused to even acknowledge his request for an update-they walked right past him. Well, the nice thing about being a consumer is that you can vote with your feet.
Complaints led to conversation. I discovered that my companion was a service provider and dealer also bound for IWCE. Inquiries about his business revealed that he had recently gained a substantial, nationally known customer because a certain ESMR entity had dropped the ball. The ESMR determined that revenues from one of three sites serving this customer, over a broad geographic area, weren’t up to the expectations of the “bean counters.” The ESMR sent a form letter announcing deactivation of that site. (When the system was built, the site was one of two secondary sites supporting the primary near the customer’s home base. When the ESMR took over, it averaged anticipated returns over all three sites.) The customer called my companion to ask if he was interested in providing SMR service. He jumped on it, and it should become a six- or seven-figure account. The customer voted with its feet.
Proactively seeking prospective clients (see this issue’s feature on Racom Corporation) is another way to capitalize on customer dissatisfaction. Don’t just wait for the phone to ring. Find the businesses unhappy with their service, and let them know how your approach to customer service, as well as your pricing, differentiates you.
Business consulting guru Tom Peters once said “It is my principal, prime conclusion, whether your business is jet engines or whether it’s peddling hamburgers, that if you simply treat your customer with common, ordinary, garden-variety courtesy, you can have the’lion’s share’ of any market that you want-because you’d be alone.”