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It had been a late night and Vince was tired and more than a little angry with Lucille, his store manager, at New Way Wireless.
Besides pulling a double shift, they all had to do a physical inventory count…three times!
“No time for breakfast so I’ll stop by the convenience store a pick up a Red Bull to go.” Vince longed for a job where he didn’t have to show up for work until after noon. Most importantly, he wanted a job where he didn’t have to deal with people. He had often thought, “This retailing would be a cinch if it weren’t for all those customers”.
Well, today would be another one of those days with stupid customers asking stupid questions and then leaving without buying anything. Then there would be his store manager harping at him about quota. “Quota, quota, quota. I hate that word” he said as Adele sang Set Fire to the Rain on his IPod.
Taking a short cut he often used, Vince braked hard just in time to miss an old man crossing the side street. “Didn’t even look up, the old @%#*^&//” Vince pounded on the horn and gave the man the same wave he used often behind the customer’s back.
The old man looked up and waved back…with is entire hand. He was saying something but Vince had his window up and the IPod playing full blast.
Aching for a confrontation, Vince lowered his window screaming, “What did you say old man?’
Smiling, the old man looked Vince in the eyes and said softly, “Forgive the theatrics but it was the only way I could get your attention, Vince.”
“How do you know my name?”
“I’ve known you a long time. I have been watching you grow up for years, watching how you treat people and how they treat you in return. It has been quite a show.”
Thinking the old man was delusional or drunk, Vince roared off to work, giving the morning’s experience no further thought. Actually, roaring might be a bit strong for his 25 year-old Volkswagen Beetle. But he did run through the gears pretty well.
“You’re late again!” Lucille shouted as Vince came through the rear entrance to the store.
“Only a few minutes and we aren’t even open yet. What’s the big deal?”
Lucille had already decided on her way in to work that morning: “Vince is history after today unless he showed a huge change in his attitude”. And so far, in less than fifteen seconds, he was showing no signs of improvement. He was the same old late-for-work bad-attitude Vince.
A few minutes later, the store opened and customers started arriving. As usual, most of them had a service issue, complaint or billing problem.
Even though Vince was a commissioned sales person, he preferred to handle service issues rather than sales. For some reason, he was just more comfortable with service than sales.
Try as he did to avoid making eye contact with a customer, one of them walked straight to Vince and asked, “Do you work here?’
“What an idiot” Vince thought. “I’m wearing the company logo shirt and he asks if I work here. This is why I hate sales, waiting on idiots all day!”
“Yes, I do.”
I’m thinking about getting a new phone.
I’m thinking about one of those smart phones.
I don’t know for sure. Whataya got?
(Vince rolls his eyes and thinks, “another one of those stupid customers that screw up my day!”) Okay, we have the LGorola 8900 with dual spore processors, 5.7G technology and twin cameras so you can SKYPE and stuff. It’s $200 with a $100 mail-in rebate that shouldn’t take more than 6 months to get your money back.
Is that what I need to send text messages?
Yep. Want it?
I need to think about it.
Okay, here’s my card. Call me if you have any questions. Thanks for stopping by. (Thinks: Thank goodness that’s over with! Now where did I leave off with this Angry Bird game?)
Thanks. (Thinks: Thank goodness that’s over with! Talk to the back of the head, dude.)
After handling a few more customers with the same attitude, break times finally arrives and Vince heads for the food court for another jolt of caffeine.
Finding a table at this time of day was easy, nobody here yet but employees and a few old power walkers. Just as he was sipping his first jolt, a voice from behind him asks, “Mind if I join you?’
Before he could turn around or respond, the Old Man sat at his table.
“Where did you come from?”
“Oh, I’m usually close by” said the Old Man with a wry smile. “How is your day going?”
“Same old’, same old’. I’m just working retail until I find a real job.”
“What don’t you like about your job?”
“It’s the customers. Always asking dumb questions, not knowing anything about wireless other than we’re too expensive. You know, typical retail.”
“Hmmm. So you act the way you do towards customers because of the way they act?”
“Would you like your job better if the customers acted better and were smarter?”
“Yeah, but that’s not gonna happen. They’re always the same.”
“Would you treat your customers differently if your job depended on it?”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a simple question Vince. I happen to know that you are going to get fired at the end of the day if your attitude doesn’t improve.”
“Oh, she’s always threatening that. Besides, how do you know that, anyway?”
Avoiding a direct answer, the Old Man says, “Please answer my question. It is very important to you and your future.”
“My future? What are you, some kind of fortune teller?”
Sighing, the Old Man says again, “Please answer the question, Vince.”
“Well, maybe. I’m not sure if a change in my attitude would change any of my customers’ behavior.”
“You did real well in your high school science fair didn’t you?”
“How do you know that?”
“It was a series of experiments in hydroponics wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, but how do you know that?”
“Vince, what did you learn from your participation in the science fair?”
“Well, each experiment led me closer to a successful way of growing organic vegetables. It was really cool. And I won second place…but I guess you know that too.”
“Would you be up to another series of experiments that could lead you to a more successful career and a more fulfilling life?”
“Umm, I don’t know. You’re beginning to creep me out, Old Man.”
Laughing softly, the Old Man whispered, “Not as much as The Rocky Horror Show did a few years ago I’ll bet.”
“OK, OK. What do you have in mind? I don’t want to get fired. I don’t have another job yet. I’m not saying I’ll do what you ask, but I am curious…in a creeped out way.”
“Rather than starting with what you do let’s start with how you think.”
“Vince, the way you think about your customers is affecting how you relate to them. You see them, and I quote, “stupid and badly behaved”. That mind-set shapes your own behavior. It’s a vicious cycle and someone has to break it. That someone is you, Vince.”
“Think of each customer as someone who needs your help, as someone who needs your capabilities. You are an expert in wireless communications, right?”
“Oh yeah, I am. I love that techy stuff. I have 675 friends on Facebook.”
“Vince, do you remember when you went over to your aunt’s house just after her operation? Remember what you did?”
“Umm, I saw her lawn was a mess and I mowed the grass, weeded the flower beds and raked up the grass clippings.”
“Why did you do that, Vince?”
“Simple. She couldn’t do it herself. She needed someone who was capable to take care of her yard. Plus, she’s a rich old bird and maybe she’ll remember me in her last will and testament…not really.”
“You saw a need and fulfilled that need with your capabilities, right?”
“And how did that make you feel afterwards?”
“I felt real good about it, actually.”
“OK, now let’s get to the experiment. Based on what you did for your aunt, what might be a better way of perceiving your customers?”
“As someone who needs me to rake their yard?”
“Cute, Vince. What else?”
“As someone who needs my help?”
“Exactly, Vince. You’re already getting it. If you see them as people who need your help maybe you could give that help in a way that would change their behavior towards you.”
“How in the world does that work?”
“Now you’re asking the right questions. That’s a great start!”
The Old Man explains how to be of real value to Vince’s customers. He teaches him the first two steps that can change customer’s attitude. He explains how that will increase the probability of Vince exceeding his beloved quota because more people like him, trust him and accept his recommendations as being in their best interest.
Let’s look in on Vince practicing the first two steps. See if you can identify what he is doing differently. Remember, you will be tested on what you learn from this story.
Good morning and welcome to my store. I’m Vince Williams and you are?
Welcome Madelyn. What brings you in today?
I’ve been thinking about a new smart phone.
You certainly came to the right place, Madelyn. We have a very good selection and I am what you might call a real expert on the new phones.
May I ask a few questions? Your answers will help me assist you in making the best decision for you. Will that be Okay?
Sure, go ahead.
First, how and where do you intend to use your new phone?
I’m thinking about replacing my home land line with it and I’ll also use it to get my emails during the day and search the web from time to time.
A lot of people are doing exactly what you want to do. It’s a good idea and saves money.
Madalyn, I want to help you make a good financial decision too. Could you tell me how much your home phone bill is each month and also how much you are presently spending on mobile service?
My home bill runs about $65 a month and my mobile is about $75.
Thanks. Now let’s look at a couple of options that I think will work well for you. Okay?
Thanks.(Vince hands the first handset to Madelyn and asks how it feels in her hand. Then he does the same with the other handset.)
Which do you prefer?
I like this one. It fits in my little hand best and looks really cool?
Yeah, fit and looks are important…especially the cool part. That phone is $199 with a $50 rebate. How does that fit with your expectations?
I was hoping to get a free phone.
We can certainly fix you up with a free phone it just won’t be one of these smart phones that enable you to get emails and access the web. Which would you prefer?
I think I want email and the web.
Good choice, Madelyn.
Now that I know your preference, may I make a few suggestions that could increase your use and enjoyment of your new phone?
The battery never dies until you need the phone, especially when traveling away from home. So I suggest this car charger to make certain your phone is always charged and ready. It is $19.95. Is that Okay?
I also suggest this case so you can clip your phone to that Gucci purse you’re carrying. A lot of our customers use this case so they don’t have to go into their purse to get the phone and they always know where their phone is. It’s also $19.95. Does that make sense?
Sure does. And good eye on the Gucci purse thing.
Thanks. My girlfriend always points them put to me with a hint that she wants one for Christmas. It’s a little out of my range right now.
If it’s Okay with you, let’s look at rate plans that will give you the most for your money. Okay?
Always want the most for my money, Vince. Let’s take a look.
Thanks. I am familiar with your present carrier’s rate plans and you are getting 600 minutes per month, right?
You’re absolutely right. I’m impressed.
Thanks, Madelyn. I suggest our Jim Dandy Plan that gives you 750 minutes of voice time and unlimited email and web browsing along with any other apps you choose to use. We can look at them a little later if you want to. This plan is $65 per month so it looks like you can get everything you want and save about $75 a month or about $800 a year. Sound like a good solution for you?
It certainly does.
May I make a suggestion for a next step that could get your new service started quickly?
Sure go ahead.
I suggest that we complete the paperwork, then I can show you how to use your new phone and explain how to access all the apps that are available.
Okay, let’s do it.
Later that day at lunch time at the Food Court:
“Mind if I join you?”
“Well hello. I’m glad to see you again.”
“Thanks. You had a pretty good morning didn’t you?”
“Now how did you know…never mind. Yes, I did, thanks to you.”
“Oh, you did all the work. I just provided a little coaching. Tell me, how did it feel handling your customer that way?”
“Well, I was a little nervous in the beginning. But after a minute or so I felt real good. And the customer was so nice and cooperative. Those tips you gave me really worked well. And I got a good sale, with accessories and a great plan. I made good commission on that sale.”
“You know Vince, all you did was practice a little courtesy in a way that your customer recognized you aren’t like the typical retail sales person.”
“Yeah, and the customer didn’t act like the typical customer either. You know, this retail business might not be so bad after all. And the best thing is, my manager told me she was proud of the way I dealt with the customer and asked me to keep up the good work. I guess I still have my job.”
Just then, Vince heard his name called and turned to see who it was. An old buddy waved at him across the Food Court. When Vince turned back around, the Old Man was gone.
“Where in the world…” then he saw the napkin with writing on it. Picking it up he read the note, “You have begun serving others in a way that brings fulfillment to you and those you serve. Live out your life that way and you will find meaningfulness and fulfillment in all that you do.”
The Old Man was gone. But his memory and words remained.
Perhaps he will enter your life one day. Will you heed his advice as Vince did?
Take the Quiz
Once you take the test, you will be ready to use what you learned to make more money. You will be able to serve your customers in a way the delights them.
It is called creating a Unique Customer Experience. You will learn more about that in your store soon.
Good luck with the Quiz:
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