Friday, June 02, 2006

Thinking ahead, and why I got a call at 6 a.m.

I’ve been in two meetings this week when the power of foresight led to the best kind of ideas for clients: the ones they’ve yet to think of, but jar some sort of aha moment that ignites the idea and provides an opportunity to truly move the needle. If I, as a marketer, could be great at one thing it would be to generate those unexpected ideas (outside the scope of work, in addition to the plan, etc.) before my clients think they need such an idea.

Call it proactive ideation, call it being insightful, tuned in, whatever…it’s more about service. It’s a mindset of always staying one step ahead and not being afraid to throw the unexpected on the table.

Ironically, I experienced two very different types of customer service this morning and think they are hilariously polar and relevant.

Bad: 6:45 a.m., my phone rings. Normally this means one thing: something bad happened and someone needs to tell me immediately. Can’t wait till a civilized hour or the business day. Turns out it was the owner of a business with which I placed a reservation. I had to cancel the reservation via voicemail earlier in the week and asked her to call me back to confirm. Two things that will shape this story: She lives in Kansas and thus the same time zone, and there was no urgency in confirming the cancellation – just a courtesy I requested to refund a deposit. But she calls and wakes me up and is chipper as all hell. And I say maybe three words “uh huh, thanks” and go back to bed wondering why anyone in the service industry thinks that’s an appropriate thing to do.

Good: 8: 15 a.m. (now awake), I arrive at my little coffee shop. I walk in, am greeted by both baristas by name and my drink is started and we’re talking about the weekend and music. Through their customer service, they’ve identified my consumer need before I had to ask, then got down to the important and real reason I get coffee there each morning: because they know me and we have good conversation.


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