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Gini Dietrich

Rules for Better Engagement: Sometimes It's As Simple As Two Words

By: Gini Dietrich | September 30, 2009 | 
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GodinI’m stubborn and I’m a book elitist. For those of you who know me really well, this comes to you as no surprise. I have an English literature degree from a private university. I’ve never read Stephen King because I learned in college that he was for the average reader. It took me a long time before I’d read USA Today because my college advisor told us all the time that it was a newspaper written for those with less than an eighth grade education. He created a book elitist out of me and I have a really hard time breaking that habit.

I tell you all of this because I’ve not read any of Seth Godin’s books. Not because I don’t think he’s smart. Mostly because he’s a New York Times bestseller, multiple times over, and I can hear Dr. Spencer’s voice in the back of my head telling me I don’t want to read what everyone else reads.

Until “Small Is the New Big” was released. I was intrigued. After all, we are small. We compete with the big agencies. Did Godin have something in there I needed to know to surpass the competition? I bought it and ignored that voice in my head.

I love the book! Not all of it, but he even says on the cover that he dares every reader not to find one thing you really love. I found that one thing (and many others).

“The Soy Luck Club, my favorite place in New York, just announced the breakfast club. Pay $40 or so and you get breakfast every day for a month. “Grab and Go,” it’s called. If Vivian sells one hundred memberships, it’s a home run. With $4,000, she can certainly buy a lot of whole-wheat bagels and grapefruit, and send ends up creating a cadre of superloyal customers. Best of all, she starts finding products for her customers instead of finding customers for her products.

Imagine a new chain of cafes that offers a coffee club. For a flat fee, you get all the WiFi and lattes you can handle. With the markup on both, the owner does great, and people would feel terrible every time they strayed.

They say to ignore sunk costs. People are terrible at that, though.”

So I read that and started thinking about all the ways a business could implement this idea. Yesterday I went to pick up Jack Bauer from “camp” and I was very excited because I orginally wasn’t going to pick him up until this morning. But I got an earlier flight home and was able to pick him up before they closed last night.

Imagine my dismay, then, when she handed me my receipt and it read, “Extra charges for late pickup.” Late pickup? I’m early! You don’t have to feed him dinner or breakfast! You don’t have to give him his epileptic medicine! You don’t have to take him for walks or scratch his belly! I’m early! How can you charge me for late pickup. Hrumph!

What if they took the extra step, instead, to print on the receipt, “One night boarding: $45.00. Pampered daycare for Jack Bauer: $20.00. Nail trim: $10.00.” All of that is on the receipt already except in the place of “pampered daycare” is “late pickup.”

See the difference in how that makes you feel? And it’s simply changing two words.

Have you seen some examples like the Soy Luck Club? Do you have examples like pet “camp” that can easily be modified for better customer service or engagement? Share here!

And P.S. If you haven’t read the book, I recommend it. I dare you to find one thing you can apply to your business/life/career.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

19 comments
CL
CL

Recently I stopped in Boston Market to pick up dinner for the family. I went inside seeing the drive-thru backed up. One poor gal was running both the drive-thru and counter ON HER OWN.
Naturally, it took a while to get to the front of the line. And a customer in front of me was very impatient/borderline rude. I too wasn't thrilled with the wait, but felt bad for her.
When I got the front, the gal said, "Thanks for being so patient." To which I responded, "Well, you certainly have your hands full and are dealing with enough already."
She had a choice right then. She could have complained about the bad customer, but instead she said, "People can be funny sometimes" and smiled.

The service was slow that day, but I have a lot of respect for that gal behind the counter (and have been there, too).
I'll go back.

Jeff

P.S. I have read Atlas Shrugged (ironically before working for the railroad) and Talisman. Both equally good. Although I haven't read King in a long time. Still need to read Fountainhead.

Rich Burghgraef
Rich Burghgraef

Gini, you hit the nail right on the head! Great article! It is amazing how many times we talk to someone and they are looking for "the next big thing" to make their millions when it is really the little things that make companies successful.

The funny part about it is that I find the things that make me successful are the things I learned as a young boy: be polite, say please and thank you, don't be afraid to stand up to a bully (or in this case an unreasonable colleague or client,) respect others, listen before speaking...heck I am sure that eating my vegetables helps me out in business also!

Dave Isbell
Dave Isbell

Gini, I have to admit that I am a bookelitist wannabe. This means that I love to read all the cool stuff you do, but never got the formal elitist training. But I do love the real book elitists when they strut their stuff and try to make me feel bad for actually enjoying "childish" comic books. Oh, sorry, they are now called "graphic novels" so that they sound more credible to my book-elitist friends (who wouldn't be caught dead admitting that they like them anyway!)

Dear Nate, I like Gini's book suggestions but here is a word of caution- Ayn Rand is not for a lazy Sunday afternoon by the pool. Be prepared to read either one more than once and keep a bottle of aspirin nearby for all of the actually thinking the books will provoke. You might even want to have a therapist on speed dial, just in case.....

Happy Reading!!!!

Jeff Lipschultz
Jeff Lipschultz

Recently I stopped in Boston Market to pick up dinner for the family. I went inside seeing the drive-thru backed up. One poor gal was running both the drive-thru and counter ON HER OWN.
Naturally, it took a while to get to the front of the line. And a customer in front of me was very impatient/borderline rude. I too wasn't thrilled with the wait, but felt bad for her.
When I got the front, the gal said, "Thanks for being so patient." To which I responded, "Well, you certainly have your hands full and are dealing with enough already."
She had a choice right then. She could have complained about the bad customer, but instead she said, "People can be funny sometimes" and smiled.

The service was slow that day, but I have a lot of respect for that gal behind the counter (and have been there, too).
I'll go back.

Jeff

P.S. I have read Atlas Shrugged (ironically before working for the railroad) and Talisman. Both equally good. Although I haven't read King in a long time. Still need to read Fountainhead.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Caitlin - I LOVE this idea! It's also the same idea when you're traveling and you check into a hotel at midnight or later and you check out the next day. Wouldn't it be nice if they gave business travelers and "weary and tired" rate in those instances?

Caitlin
Caitlin

A great example in travel is where hotels or tour operators charge a per-person rate, except that the fine print says it's based on double occupancy. If there's just one of you then they charge a single supplement, so it's not really a per-person rate at all. How about charging a per-room rate instead and then offering a discount for single people? It would work out as exactly the same amount of money but it would make people feel a whole lot better.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Alright Nate...have you read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged? If not, read Atlas Shrugged first. Then read Groundswell for business.

David and Sarah, I overhead a conversation at a fancy coffeeshop a few weeks ago. A woman asked her server to warm up her cup of coffee in the microwave. It created this huge stir. The manager came out and explained that they're known for their coffee and she refused to warm it up for her.

What if, instead, the server had just said, "You know, warming up our coffee really changes the flavor. Can I offer you a new cup instead?"

The woman was really upset at what a big deal it became and left before her breakfast arrived. I'm willing to bet she'll never go back.

Sarah Robinson
Sarah Robinson

Love this post. One time many years ago I had to make what I thought was going to be a difficult call to a customer service department. I was lowest on the totem pole at my job so I got the short straw. I worried, I practiced, I thought of every possible argument I might encounter. Imagine my surprise when the young man on the other end of the phone actually listened as I described our challenge and asked if he could fix it. His two word response? "No problem." I still remember how it felt to hear those two small words - and I remind myself to say them often when something is asked of me.

It is amazing the power that two small words can have.

Excellent post - as always. :-)

David Kamerer
David Kamerer

Two words? That's easy. Change "no problem" or "not a problem" to "you're welcome."

Nate St. Pierre
Nate St. Pierre

@Janet and @Gini: It would seem that our standards have sunk low enough that just doing an average job at being cordial and helpful is enough to make you stand out. Sad, but all the better for people like us, I suppose - should make it easier to make an impact.

@Gini: The Talisman is one of my favorite books of all time, and it's the smaller of the two. I'd say go with that one. And since you so graciously agreed to try out one of King's, I will read any book you recommend as well. Which should it be . . . what's gonna knock my socks off?

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Janet - Isn't that crazy? I just read an article a few minutes ago about better customer service and they listed five things to create positive word-of-mouth.

They were:
* Answer emails.
* Call people back.
* Be present.
* Empathize with their complaints.
* Go out of your way for them.
* Make it your mission to make their lives easier.

Makes you want to say, "Duh!"

Janet Hansen
Janet Hansen

I'm constantly amazed in talking to clients when I say at the end of a telephone conversation, "thank you" or "thanks for calling." It's almost like they've never heard it before. Usually there is a pause and a heartfelt, "You're welcome!"

Janet Hansen
Scout66.com

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Nate, um, no. But...if I were to read one of them as my intro to Stephen King, which would you recommend? I'll make the commitment to read it during the holidays in order to continue trying to get over my elitist snobbery.

Nate St. Pierre
Nate St. Pierre

Hey Gini, this is slightly off-topic, but I was wondering if you've yet escaped being a book elitist? Because Stephen King, well . . . that man can spin a yarn, my friend. I highly recommend The Stand or The Talisman. Not horror per se, but very interesting and engaging stories.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

HAHAHA! I love that idea..."we invite you to pay your invoice."

Thomas Scott
Thomas Scott

Seth Godin may not write on the same educational level but he's an amazing thinker. His books are important to read to understand the shifts evolving around us even if they do read like extended blog posts.

How about sending clients a note when they don't pay on time saying 'we invite you to pay your invoice?'

Clayton Thornton
Clayton Thornton

way to go Gini, you succumbed to their evil scheme to bankrupt your wallet.

Clayton Thornton
Clayton Thornton

This is great Gini. Did you end up paying the extra $20 for the pampered Day Care?