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In the past, conventional wisdom held that people who had a ‘good’ experience with your company might tell 1 – 2 others.

But, if they have a ‘not-so-good’ experience with your company, they would tell 7 – 9 people.

The point was made.  Do a good job and it’s no big deal.  In fact, it’s expected. “Whoa, you did surgery and the patient lived to tell about it?  That’s excellent!”.  See, delivering ‘the goods’ is expected.  And, rightly so.

But screw things up.  Drop the ball.  Smash the customer’s expectations like pumpkins on Halloween . . . and you open yourself and your company to a LOT of  problems.  And in today’s socially networked world, the truth that ‘bad news’ spreads quickly and widely is more true now than ever before.

United Airlines learned this lesson the hard way after after mishandling (no pun intended) a damaged baggage claim.

It seems a passenger, a musician named David Carroll from Nova Scotia, Canada had his rather pricey Taylor guitar literally destroyed by some United Airlines baggage handlers during a stop-over in Chicago, IL.  Here’s how the new media covered it:

Now ________ happens . . . bags do get lost and damaged.  (Heck, United lost my bags when I was returning from Hawaii a few years ago.  Took them about 8 months but I did get them back. And the contents were intact!  Go figure.)

Back to the guitar incident.

David’s request for ‘compensation’ for damages (literally!) were not ignored.  They were refused! By United Airlines.  So, David wrote a song and produced a video about the incident and put it on You-Tube!  It went ‘viral’ and the word about how “United Breaks Guitars” is now more likely what people think when they hear United Airlines than anything about ‘friendly’ skies.

Here’s the actual video that’s now been seen by millions of people because of the PR debacle at United Airlines:

According to one analyst, the stock of United Airlines dropped about 10% drop in value following the You-Tube video release. Roughly about $180,000,000!  That’s a lot more than the ‘cost’ of making good on a damaged Taylor guitar!

The problem isn’t that ‘legally’ United was within its rights to deny the claim for reparations.  It was.  The problem is that the moral compass of the airline, judged by the public (uh, that’s why they call it ‘public’ relations) was deserving of a stiff sentencing.  And they sure handed one expensive sentence to United Airlines.

Today, the world is more connected than ever.  The ‘effort’ to spread news — good or bad — is so much easier than in times past.  That means you must be good to the hands that feed you.  You must treat your customers and clients with at least a modicum of respect and regard.  Why?  Because if you don’t, someone else — a competitor — WILL.  And if you get bad PR, more people will learn of your ‘crimes’ sooner.  And that . . . will not bode well for you.  So stay sharp!  Keep your customers happy and give them reasons to say ‘nice’ things about you and your business!

Gap?  Yes.  The gap between what you think you’re doing and how your customers / clients feel you’re doing. Maybe you don’t have one.  Kudos.  Unfortunately, odds are you do have a gap.  Fortunately, you can correct that.  But first you need to know if it exists.

In a recent research study (Delivering On The Promise) conducted by Accenture, it was noted that a serious disconnect exists between business executives and their clients / customers.  Apparently 75% of the executives surveyed perceived their own customer service as being “above-average”.  Unfortunately, 59% of their own customers felt the service experience they were getting from these same firms was, “somewhat to extremely disappointing”.

Lynn Hunsaker posting at ClearAction’s Customer Experience Optimization blog cited a CMO Council Customer Affinity study where about 50% of the surveyed companies believed they were “extremely” customer-centric.  At the same time, only 10% of the customers surveyed felt the same way!


This obvious perceptual difference is significant and serious.  Significant in the the ‘GAP’ it suggests is huge.  Serious in that it exists at all.

Can you tolerate such a lack of connection to your marketplace?  Not for long.  And not for anything good.  I’m reminded of Marie Antoinette’s famed line, “Let them eat cake” when referring to the French people who, suffering so badly, rebelled and overthrew the monarchy (and, Marie’s head, too!).

Your business competes not only for prospects and their money.  You also compete for their attention.  And, their loyalty to your brand.  The way you earn that is by delivering on the expectations of your marketplace.  And how do you learn those?

You ASK!

Survey your customers.  If you don’t have customers or clients . . . talk with prospects!

Whatever you do . . . stay close to your marketplace . . . closer than your competitors and when you learn what people want from you . . . GIVE IT TO THEM!


“What does a good advisor do?”


“Ask better questions . . . than the client knows to ask”

It’s become painfully obvious to me that I, myself, need a good advisor to help me with a challenge I’m having with something.

Why so ‘obvious’?  Simple.  I’m running out of time to live with the situation ‘as is’ and I’m all out of insights as to why I’ve got the problem in the first place.

When your clients experience a similar situation . . . where something ‘isn’t right’ in their world . . . and they’re clueless about both WHY that’s happening and HOW to correct the situation, you become the knight on the white horse . . . riding in with your insightful questions to shed light on the cause that calls for a cure.


Many times, you won’t even need to have the answers.  If you do, that’s a double bonus. But even if you’re only able to ask your client the questions that reveal the underlying cause or causes for the distressing symptoms (what clients call ‘the problem’) . . . then you’re providing significant value to your clue-less client.

As the surgeon told her patient who asked her to breakdown her bill, “Ok” she said.  “For the incision, surgery and suturing . . . 1% . . . knowing where to operate and why . . . 99%”.

And THAT . . . is why asking insightful, revealing questions . . . that are the first step in getting your clients what they want . . . is PRICELESS!

This week I attended a meeting where the importance of TRUST in business relationships was (again!) hammered home.

The speaker, a delightful lady named Peaches Quinn (her real name!), described 3 levels of relationships that you can enjoy with other people in your business activities:

  1. Unknown Commodity
  2. Known Commodity
  3. Trusted Advisor

Every relationship that produces value for you, your business or practice . . .  must go through these three levels of trust.  And the higher the trust, the greater the value you’ll see from it!

skeptical1The Unknown Commodity
This is where we all start with another person.  Unless and until they get to know you and begin to appreciate you, you’re just like every other ____________.  In effect, you’re a commodity.  UN-differentiated.  And certainly not to be given free access to the valuable relationships the other person has developed in their ‘network of influence’ that you might like to meet and develop relationships with, as well.

knownbutThe Known Commodity
This is where someone knows of you . . . but not very well.  “Yeah, I think I’ve heard about her, but I don’t know her personally . . .” is what someone is likely to say about you at this point in the relationship-building process.  At least you’re on their ‘radar screen’.  (But you’re still a UFO!)

Further, while you may be known . . . you haven’t established your trustworthiness.  As a result, the ability of this other person to endorse you to the people in her network . . . will be limited.  And, understandably, so!


The Trusted Advisor
This is where someone knows, likes and trusts you both personally and professionally.  This takes time to develop. Because you’re now seen as a unique and valuable (which is the definition of ‘differentiate’, by the way!) to someone, you’re no longer “Like all the other ___________s”.  You’re special.  Like the Little Prince and the Fox (you did read that as a child, I hope!).

Achieving this status with someone makes it easier for them to open the doors to their kingdom . . . to their network of influence . . . of people who have come to know, like and trust . . . them.

The ‘Real Life’ Example:
I just sent a note to someone I saw on an online social network I belong to . . . inviting them to have a discussion with me about an opportunity to collaborate that I felt, based on their profile and posts, would be appropriate and potentially of interest and value to both of us.

I indicated that I was not seeking to sell this person anything.  I just wanted to have a conversation about a topic that might prove to be of mutual interest.  A short time later, this person called me on the phone.  It was, no fault of this person, an awkward call at best. It didn’t go well.  Why?  Because despite the disclaimer that I wasn’t connecting to sell this person anything, that’s all this person could focus on . . . .”Look, what are you selling? (to him, nothing) “I don’t know what you’re asking me to buy” (again, nothing!) What’s this going to cost me? (NOTHING!).  Long story short, I had to end the call because the other person began spewing out a litany of protestations to issues that weren’t being brought up in our conversation . . . yet they were real . . . in his mind.

The ironic — and sad — thing was . . . I was authorized, by a separate client, to give this person $600 . . . with ‘no strings attached’ . . . if he met two (2) simple criteria — and buying something wasn’t one of them!  But I never got the chance to make offer that because the ‘ghosts’ of past encounters with other people made him see me in a way that clouded his perception of what was truly ‘real’.

Absent a level of TRUST . . . of DIFFERENTIATION . . . of PREFERENCE over others . . . the reality I offered this person was being obscured by the reality of past encounters with many others who had lied about their reason for calling, misrepresented themselves or did other things to make this person highly suspicious and skeptical of anyone they didn’t already know, like and . . . TRUST!

The Take Away
In your dealings with other people . . . you want to establish TRUST . . . as quickly and completely as possible. If you don’t, the potential value of that relationship for you will be diminished accordingly.  Please, don’t let this happen.  Learn how to develop trust with others . . . and then leverage that trust . . . to open up new opportunities for your problem-solving skills and abilities to be used on behalf of your clients and . . . of benefit to yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about how to build trust . . . in your business relationships . . . check out our weekly telecall: Marketing Made SIMPLE!

This is a cute one.

I just got an email from a salesperson for an extremely large, renowned international company asking (very nicely!) what my current level of interest in using their service is, if any. She goes on to challenge me by asking if she should just “remove me from her database”.

OK, here’s the joke.

I have been a client of this firm since last October! Happily so, too.

Apparently, while the ‘move’ to ask me to “________ or get off the pot” is one I personally admire, it isn’t appropriate. Not here, anyway.


First, because it isn’t necessary—I AM a client.

Second, it reflects a gross ignorance of her knowledge of who I am and where I’m at vis a vis buying her company’s service. Read more