11 May 2007 ~ 9 Comments

How to Not Get a Testimonial…

howie_keys_2.jpgYesterday was one of those days. You know, the multiple Excedrin days that begin far too early in the AM, talking about far too serious things before the coffee’s set in… and extending way too far into the evening.

We’ve all been there.

As business owners, these are not the customers we’re typically looking for. Picture the Comcast phone rep who answers the phone when this person comes home to no digital TV service during the big game, or the Amtrak phone rep who has to explain why the Friday train service is running four hours delayed–again.

These experiences start off behind the proverbial 8 ball before they ever get going. They’re also experiences where the right attitude, great energy, and a good listener who actually communicates relevant information (i.e., delightful service) can generate oodles and oodles of positive Word of Mouth, and rivers of referral revenue.

On my way home from the office last night, I discovered something curiously missing from my laptop bag–my car keys. I hadn’t actually driven to the office, because the car was blocked in by an age-old Brooklyn tradition of double parking during street cleaning. (Don’t ask, really, it’s a topic for another blog 😉 .)

Somewhere between the coffee shop, the cab, and the office, the single set of car keys we own were gone. Oops. Long story short, AAA to the rescue! They’ve heard this song-and-dance before, and without judgment (something the Ms. can’t claim this AM), they found a 24-hour automotive locksmith, setup the appointment, got him to call us on a cell phone when he was in the neighborhood so we didn’t have to wait in the rain, AND kicked in $50 off the outrageous-stupidity-fee the locksmith charges to boot. AMAZING.

They were with us all the way, calling on several occasions to check the status of the locksmith and to make sure we were delighted once the service was rendered.

I’d happily take the time to write a letter exclaiming my adulation for all things AAA and end with a strong Call to Action urging people not to wait until they’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire in the snow; rather, to sign up today while their car is still running strong. I’d send an email they could use as a testimonial, I’d even talk to the rep’s superior and share my delight… if they’d only ask.

Why are we so afraid to ask for our customers to share their wonderful stories? Are we afraid they may tell us mostly good news, with some sprinkles of less positive mixed in? Great. Too bad we can’t fix what we don’t know.

Are we afraid people only do what they’re incentivized to do? True, to an extent, but don’t underestimate the power of the Delight Factor. Ask for feedback. Facilitate sharing among customers. Embrace the transparency of today’s environment. And run, don’t walk, to your nearest AAA website and sign-up for a year of their service!! You won’t regret it.

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