The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Saturday, January 15, 2011
Volume 16 | # 376
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He who stops being better stops being good. » Oliver Cromwell

Press Pound, Zero, Zero, etc.

I'm thinking of telling our satellite network that they can thank a non-affiliated website for helping their customer experiences. A recent episode had me scratching my head over some companies' service strategies.

While watching television one evening, a message popped onto the screen that said my remote control's battery was low. No problem. Four triple-A's, and I'd be back in business. Or not.

Once I changed the batteries, the remote would not work at all. I soon learned that the way the system is configured, I couldn't even change the channels manually on that television. Ugh.

I have called this company before. The phone menu is terrible. If you're not mad before the call, you're fuming by the time you get to talk to someone. You're likely to end up with a broken phone (from pounding it) to go along with your broken receiver.

So, I went to their website and read through the most intelligence-insulting FAQ's imaginable. Hey, are you pointing it in the right direction? Ugh.

After finding nothing helpful, I did a web search for their customer support line because it (naturally) wasn't obvious on their site. The first thing that came up, however, was a site that lists the shortcuts for getting through to a live person at a long list of companies.

I called that company's normal number and then hit the suggested # keys, 0's, etc. until I got a "please hold" message.

Within 20 seconds, (not exaggerating) I was speaking to a young lady in tech support. She was very knowledgeable, patient, and helpful. After trouble-shooting the problem for a couple of minutes, she was able to give me instructions that got everything working again.

There was no way that I could have figured out those fixes on my own.

I got off of the phone wishing that every company I did business with could solve problems that personally and quickly.

Then I remembered that this helpful employee and that level of service are usually hidden behind ridiculous phone menus and a cryptic website. It took a third-party sharing "secrets" to improve the process.

It's when a problem arises that a customer truly decides if he actually likes doing business with a company or not.

How easy do you make it for your customers to like you?

Put Me In Coach

When my 10-year-old son signed up for basketball this season, the organizers asked me to coach his team. I explained that my travel schedule is pretty tough, and I didn't think that I could.

Soon after, I received an email with a roster that listed me as the coach. When I replied, “Uh… Huh?” I was told that it was temporary. The father of a star-ballplayer said that he would be the coach.

A week later, I learned that the guy wasn't going to coach and that his son wasn’t on our team, either. I also soon discovered that 3 of our players had never dribbled a ball in their lives and the rest of our team was made up of kids who scored below-average to average on their skills evaluations.

Of the kids who had played before, none had ever been among the Top 5 players on their teams. Half of our team didn't know a layup from a Fruit Rollup.

Our initial practices and games were like a basketball version of The Bad News Bears. (Okay, with slightly less cursing and drinking on the bench.)

I whined to my wife that this was going to be a painful season. I had not one kid on the team who could handle the ball. And they played defense like matadors, jumping to the side and watching their guys run by them.

My "sympathetic" wife said, "You're a coach, right? Well… coach them."

But I didn't really want to "coach." Heck, I didn't ask for the job. I wanted to be lazy like most of the coaches and sit there watching their star players carry the team. Their biggest concern is making sure someone brought snacks for after the games.

So, I faked enthusiasm and began acting like these kids understood what I was saying.  And something interesting started happening. Kids who would have normally spent games staying out of the way have found themselves with the ball in their hands, taking shots.

There are no other options.

They're being asked to guard players with skill-levels appreciably above their own. And they're actually doing it.

While the odds are still stacked against us, it's become one of the more enjoyable coaching experiences I can remember. These knuckleheads are actually getting a little cocky. Heaven help us.

It has reminded me that there are always team members (not just kids) who can surprise you when given the opportunity and encouragement to take on challenges they never have before.

Who on your team is ready to take their shot?

The best things in life aren't things. » Art Buchwald

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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