The Best Form of Marketing, by Terry Summerlin
Straight North is pleased to welcome Terry Sumerlin, “The Barber-osopher,” to our blog. Terry has graciously given us permission to reprint another chapter from his latest book, Leadership: It Takes More Than a Great Haircut!, which he has modified slightly for our marketing-minded readers.
Many businesses, for the present, can forget about second-mile service. They haven’t gone the first mile yet. For them to proceed on the second mile would be like a child who hasn’t learned to crawl trying to walk. It might be too big a challenge.
I witnessed this type of “service” recently at a McDonald’s I frequent. When not headed out for a speaking engagement, I stop there every morning on the way to the barbershop. The coffee’s good and the price is right.
On this particular morning I was standing behind the next fellow in line when I overheard the following conversation.
“Can you stir my coffee after you add the sweetener?” It seemed like a reasonable request. It wasn’t anything like, “Could you walk barefoot on coals to bring it to me?” The request wasn’t even labor intensive. So, the young lady’s reply startled me. It was simple and to the point: “I don’t stir it. I just put it in.”
Admittedly, he was not in a five star restaurant. But all he wanted was for the sweetener not to sit on the bottom of the cup. I’ve been there, as perhaps you have. Come on, lady!
Unfortunately, her job description didn’t call for stirring before putting the lid on. You’ve got to be kidding.
Such would be about like cutting a customer’s hair and then being asked if I would mind combing it before he gets out of the chair. “Sorry, I just cut it. I don’t comb it.” I wonder how long he’d be a customer and what kind of marketing it would take to win him back?
Such businesses can’t blame the economy if they die. Cause of death would have to be hardening of the attitudes.
Conversely, I deal with a bank that believes in going the second mile with service. One day when I was too busy to walk across the street to sign a document, a new accounts person brought the form to me.
The ultimate display of their great customer service was in evidence recently. At about 7 A.M. I was working on a customer when the phone rang. It was a teller at the (drive through) Broadway Bank next door. “Terry,” she said, “you left your car lights on.” As with the McDonald’s incident, I was shocked – for an entirely different reason! Here’s a lady who really cares.
Caring about people is the essence of great customer service. It’s the type of advertising you can’t buy at any price. It’s also a word-of-mouth method of marketing that spreads like wildfire. But for the necessary spark, we must have the right people.
MARKETING PRINCIPLE: Hire for attitude and train for skill.
Terry Sumerlin, The Barber-osopher, owns a 54-year-old barbershop in San Antonio, TX; he has traveled over the U.S. and abroad to deliver his entertaining, common-sense message to customer contact and sales personnel, managers, executives and educators. He’s the author of the popular Barber-osophy books, and his most recent book is Leadership: It Takes More Than a Great Haircut! He writes a monthly column on leadership for American City Business Journal. As a speaker his clients include the U.S. Census Bureau, TxDot, the Air Force Audit Agency, Princess Cruise Line, Hilton and Marriott Hotels. www.barberosophy.com