Volume 2 Issue 5

Why I’m not going to buy a new Porsche 911 Carrera

I love reading those “Road Test” columns you get in car mags and weekend newspapers. Especially if they’re testing hot exotic cars – cars I can’t afford. Excuse me, in the name of prosperity consciousness let me rephrase that – cars I choose not to spend my money on.

The other day the writer was fawning and drooling all over the new Porsche 911 Carrera which can be yours for $74,565. The look, the sound, the feel, the speed. Intoxicated just by reading about this sexy thing, I was about to pull out the check book when I read:

There are some plastic bits, such as cheap-looking door handles and a seat adjuster that came off in my hand.

That, dear reader, is what we call a “dropped ball.” And it takes only one ‘dropped ball’ to lose the ball game.

If a customer is willing to spend 75 grand on a car did Porsche really figure that there’s no way they’d spend an extra twenty bucks for decent door handles and a knob that doesn’t come off the first time you use it?

You experience a dropped ball many times a day. It happens when something happens or doesn’t happen that interrupts what could have been a wonderful and seamless consumer experience.

You go into the most amazing food store where you can buy organic lettuce with the black earth still on the roots and skim cheese from the rare one-horned Llama…and then you have to wait in line for fifteen minutes for the one teller on duty. Dropped ball.

You find exactly what you need on the internet at a great price with super service from the vendor. Your product arrives all banged up because their cartons are made of cheap skinny cardboard that fell apart in shipping. Another dropped ball.

A store advertises how helpful and professional its staff are but the first time you go in there and ask about how a particular widget works a salesperson says, “I have no idea and the guy who works this area didn’t come in today.” You guessed it – dropped ball again.

In her new book Branded Customer Service, Dr. Janelle Barlow calls this being “off brand” and she has great examples of how this can destroy all your marketing efforts. By the way, this is one of the most helpful and interesting books on branding I’ve ever read. Go to Amazon or directly to www.brandedservice.com and get yourself a copy.

Here’s the thing. It is pretty easy to come up with a specific experience point designed to impress your clients and customers. The real test, however, is in the overall flow of the customer experience. I’m talking beginning to end; stem to stern; alpha to omega. The secret is the flow! It all has to be there. Otherwise it’s like having a new 64 inch plasma TV with surround sound but furniture a guest wouldn’t sit on for fear of catching a disease.

The lesson here is to look at whatever customer experience you and your company have created. Is there any place, because of what happens or doesn’t happen, that you drop the ball?

You’d be surprised at how easy it is to overlook dropped balls. For example, if your customer has to fill out a form for something, it may not cross your mind to see if the form itself is a dropped ball. Look again at how easy it is to fill out and if all the information is actually necessary. We’ve found, for example, that about a third of all the information required on a typical form is totally unnecessary to its purpose. One bank we’ve worked with required twelve (12) signatures from a loan applicant over the course of the application. By signature number six I’d be thinking “I’m leaving the stadium before this game is over!”

Folks, we all drop the ball from time to time. I do it. You do it. Find the point where it happens and fix it. Flow – what you want is flow.

Until next time…be purposeful!