3 Tips any Business can use to let Customers in the Conversation

Movies are so compelling. There’s a reason for that. They’re distilled stories we can identify with and feel something about - the hero, the villain, even the lover. It’s all so simple in a movie. They tell us something about the human condition, but not the whole thing.

It’s no surprise that videos have taken such a hold online. People want to express themselves, capture their moment in the lime light. And with digital media, it’s easier than ever to do that. Andy Warhol called it the 15' of fame. To be sure, it’s a fleeting condition, and it comes with special responsibility.

Henry J. Waternoose: James, this company has been in my family for three generations. I would do anything to keep it from going under.
Sulley: So would I, sir.
Henry J. Waternoose: Say, I could use your help with something.
Sulley: Anything, sir.
Henry J. Waternoose: You see, we've recently hired some new recruits, and frankly, they're... um...
Sulley: Inexperienced?
Henry J. Waternoose: Oh, they stink!
Sulley: Uh-huh.
Henry J. Waternoose: I thought you could drop by the simulator tomorrow and give them a little scare demonstration, show them what it takes to be our top scarer.
Sulley: I'll start with the old Waternoose Jump-and-Growl.
[Jumps and growls]
Henry J. Waternoose: [Startled] Oh! Ha ha! That's my boy.

This is part of a conversation in Monsters, Inc. I bring it up because last week, a careless act by two employees - the jury i still out on how inexperienced - of the Domino’s Pizza franchise business thought of doing something clever.

They posted a “prank” (as they defined it) video on YouTube and unleashed a storm against their employer - who was identified by a reader of the popular online publication the Consumerist - and the franchise brand it mocked, Domino’s Pizza.

Did they think of the impact of such act on other franchisees?

It’s scary how just a person (or two like in this case) could almost take down the reputation of a brand and make things difficult for many other franchisees who share the same brand name. There is no putting this “kid” or game back. But there is a lesson for all businesses in this.

The best way to respond to these kinds of situations is to have a regular conversation with your customers, so that there are no scary monsters behind doors. You do that by:

1. Training employees - you should know who you hire. Use references, get to know them, take extra time. Then once they’re in, train them on your business practices. Part of those should be having honest and respectful conversations with customers. Yes, we can be difficult at times - all of us are customers, agreed? Yet, if we uphold the Gold Standard on this one, we will come out on top.

2. Developing relationships - the transaction mindset is losing ground. We like to do business with people we like - and know. There may be so many businesses that do the job your business does for your customers. Why should they choose you? This may seem like common sense, yet it is still not that common.

3. Building community - anonymity is not the opposite of minding one’s own business. It’s a slippery slope. It means that nobody is taking the time to get to know each other. It certainly makes it easier to think you can get away with scary things. I would venture to guess that you feel more comfortable when you enter a store or any environment you know. Employees and customers can make community happen.

Randall: Shh. Shh. Shh. Shh. Do you hear that? It's the winds of change.  (from Monsters, Inc.)

It is indeed the winds of change, and your business can win by embracing it.

Valeria Maltoni | Conversation Agent
www.conversationagent.com
http://Twitter.com/ConversationAge

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