I Know It’s a “Holiday,” But I Think I’ll Pass…

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Blow the horn and tap the tambourine. 🎉 🥳 It’s International Customer Support Day.

You can thank Microsoft for adding this occasion to our list of pseudo holidays.

Back in 2019, MS held an internal celebration to recognize the efforts and challenges faced by its support teams.

According to my handy-dandy strange holidays website, “Due to its success and the enthusiastic participation of thousands of customer support professionals, it evolved into an internationally recognized day aimed at celebrating these unsung heroes of the business world.”

So, in honor of this INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED “holiday,” I say…

Bah! Humbug!

And I share with you, instead, a fable of failed customer support.

Our story begins in 2018, in the dark ages before we officially recognized the efforts and challenges faced by customer support folks at airlines and elsewhere.

My son, Jacob, called me and declared, “I’m never flying United Airlines again!”

He was at the Denver airport, at one of those self-serve check-in kiosks (designed, ironically, to REPLACE human customer support reps). It was crowded and hectic. There was a long line to get through security. He was frazzled. He worried he might miss his plane.

Jacob had one bag to check so he needed to run his credit card to pay for it. When he reached down to insert the card into the slot, he found a previous customer’s card still in the kiosk.

He pulled the card from the slot and looked around for someone who might support him in his effort.

He spotted a United rep across the room, caught her eye and raised his hand, waving the previous customer’s credit card in the air.

The attendant’s shoulders slumped. She frowned. And then she stormed across the room toward Jacob.

As she arrived at the kiosk, Jacob said, “Someone left his credit card in the…”

The attendant wasn’t listening.

Without a word, she snatched the card from Jacob, pressed the pay now button on the kiosk screen and inserted the card into the slot.

Transaction complete.

“Ummmm…” Jacob said. “That wasn’t my card. I found it in the slot when I went to check in.”

Slumped shoulders again. As for the frown, it never left, but now it was bigger.

(Artist’s rendering of frowning support rep: ☹️)

“Why didn’t you tell me that!?” she barked.

“I tried to tell you but…”

Again, she wasn’t listening. She grabbed Jacob by the arm and yanked him toward the check-in counter.

After a few minutes of furious typing, even-bigger frowning and lots of heavy sighing, the attendant undid the previous transaction and charged Jacob’s credit card.

She tagged the bag, tossed it on the conveyor and handed Jacob his credit card.

Her only words: “OK. You’re all set.”

She didn’t say, “I’m sorry.”

She didn’t say, “Thank you.”

After Jacob told me the story, I told him that United’s slogan is “fly the friendly skies.”

Jacob laughed. “Yeah, right,” he said.

What’s the lesson for you?

The United attendant could have prevented so much damage if only she hadn’t assumed my son was a dummy who didn’t know how to operate a kiosk.

If only she asked the customer, “What do you need?”

If only she listened to the customer when he told her what he needed.

So it goes with marketing and sales.

Too often we assume we know what the prospect or customer wants. We act on assumptions. We act without listening. And then we cause damage.

Smart marketers devise strategies and tactics

…to converse with their prospects and customers…

…to listen to them…

…to learn what they want and need…

And then smart marketers respond accordingly.

Don't go away yet..

p.s. Coaches, authors, and consultants hire me to power-up their creative content and storytelling to captivate prospects, stand-out and book more business.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.