A Rant about Missed Opportunities & a $52 piece of tape

I’m on a rip today folks… got a bee in my bonnet and a twist in my shorts.  Can I tell you why?

So many smart people missing such golden opportunities.  Big, smart companies that just don’t seem to get it.

The opportunities?  A chance to really connect with their prospects. To go above and beyond (at zero extra cost), and win new customers with almost no additional effort.

But instead, they are stuck in a “me me me me me world” and don’t have a clue of the power of these opportunities.

Case Study #1: Wachovia Wells Fargo

This fantastically huge bank recently sponsored the Fast 50 awards ceremony in Charlotte.  (I was honored to be receiving a Fast 50 award for the growth in our business over the last 3 years.)  And I was grateful to Wells for sponsoring the event.  Their multi-thousand dollar contribution bought me a chicken salad and a piece of chocolate cream pie.

Their contribution also bought me a bag of goodies to take home.  Nic Nacs.  Chotchkies.  You know, “ad specialty” items.  There was the obligatory travel mug.  A kinda-cool mini PC mouse for travel.  And a beautiful crystal business card holder (see picture at right).

And what do you think was written on each of these “gifts”?  Yep. “Wells Fargo” – big as life.

Now lets think about it.  This award ceremony honored the 50 fastest growing companies in Charlotte.  It was “all about small business”.  The big-wig from Wells told us how the whole bank revolved around its customers.

Except the marketing department, which clearly revolves around itself.

Imagine your mom giving you monogrammed cufflinks for your birthday … but they have HER initials on them.  That’s how it felt.

Why do I want MY customers to see “WELLS FARGO” when they reach for MY business card?  If I were an employee… nice gift.  As a prospective client… complete trash.

Now compare this to APPLE … where you can order an iPad or iPod inscribed with YOUR name on it for no extra charge.  The last 2 Apple products I purchased did not even have the Apple logo on them – the Apple logo stickers came separate: if you want the Apple logo on your iPad, they are happy to provide it, but they don’t assume that you want to be a walking advertisement for someone else’s brand.

C’mon Wells Fargo – get a clue.  Take that beautiful crystal business  card holder, and engrave “Fast 50 Winner” on it.  Get current.  Get personal.  Get customer-centric!

Case #2  The United States Postal Service

I love the post office.  They deliver a consistent, high-value service at an exceptionally low cost and they make it amazingly simple.  Fantastic.

Unfortunately, they have outsourced much of their retail operation to contractors.  We have a “fake” Post Office in our neighborhood, and I went in to mail a package.  It’s the most convenient shipping location and I expected great service at a low price.

Ah, but I’d forgotten to tape my box shut.

Do you think  the fake Post Office had even an inch of packing tape available for me?  Not a chance.  The only employee (also the owner, I learned) stood scowling at me from behind the counter  “You’ll have to tape the box”, she sneered.  You can guess my response.

I apologized for inconveniencing her with my business, and took the parcel down the street to UPS… where, by the way, they cheerfully taped, labeled, and stamped my box at no extra charge.  The result: UPS +$52, USPS $zero.   That’s a revenue that the Post Office just gave up to the competition.

Now I don’t think the local imbecile was representative of all USPS workers… but the lack of standardized, customer-focused service cost them my business, and a lot more in the long-run, I’m sure.

So… next time you have a chance to interact with a prospect.  Are you going to make him do the work?  Are you going to ask him to wear YOUR brand?  Or are you going to make his life easier… make him feel great about himself… show him how much your company loves, respects, and needs him?

It’s an easy choice to make, and one that costs you almost nothing.

Dedicated to your profit,

David Worrell

Originally Published

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