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We: The Ideal Customer Relationship Hardcover – October 20, 2007
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From the Publisher
"When Steve Yastrow writes, I pay close attention ... I think We is a superb book ... Bravo!" -- Tom Peters
About the Author
In addition to Ditch the Pitch, Steve Yastrow is the author of We: The Ideal Customer Relationship and Brand Harmony. Steve is president of Yastrow and Co., a consulting firm that helps organizations create powerful stories and communicate them in ways that build customer relationships and drive results. Steve's clients include McDonald's Corp., The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Jenny Craig International, and Great Clips for Hair, and many others. For more info visit www.yastrow.com
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I cannot recall a prior time in human history when there were more opportunities to establish and then sustain "We" relationship and yet, paradoxically, I do not recall a prior time when there were fewer of them. High technology has essentially eliminated time and space by connecting people with other people almost anytime and anywhere. However, this connectivity primarily involves machines (e.g. computers and telephones) connecting with other machines or connecting people with a recorded message or (worse yet) with a series of them. Yastrow is well aware of all this, of course, and has probably experienced a number of frustrating, if not maddening experiences of his own. Here is what he recommends:
1. View each customer as a partner, collaborator, etc. rather than as a nuisance, if not as an adversary.
2. Be fully engaged "in the moment" of each encounter with the customer to sustain a "continuity of conversations" during which the "We" relationship becomes stronger.
3. Recognize and appreciate the importance of complementarity between and among "We" relationships: it shows how we stand in relation to each other, how we depend on each other, and why we are together.
4. Understand that organizational relationships are built from individual relationships.
5. Ensure that everyone involved understands how to build "We" relationships with individuals in other organizations...and then does it.
What Yastrow proposes is hardly original. The great value to be derived from his book is found in his explanation of HOW to achieve these five (and other) objectives with a comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective program. Obviously, not everyone will be willing and/or able to engage in - and then sustain -- a "We" relationship.
For that reason, I am intrigued by the potential value of Yastrow's core concept to an organization's hiring process, at least when positions requiring direct and frequent contact with customers are involved. My own experience suggests that the extent to which a person uses first-person plural pronouns is a fairly reliable indicator of her or his attitude toward relationships with others. I think the core concept can also be of substantial benefit when attempting to create or add to a critical mass of what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as "customer evangelists." Why not have both customer evangelists and employee evangelists? They are not mutually-exclusive. On the contrary, I presume to suggest, you cannot have the former without the latter.
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to read Paul Spiegelman's Why Is Everyone Smiling?: The Secret Behind Passion, Productivity, and Profit as well as Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba's Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force and We Are Smarter Than Me: How to Unleash the Power of Crowds in Your Business co-authored by Barry Libert and Jon Spector.
remember what the waiter looks like five minutes later, you weren't
engaged--something that needs to happen in order for businesses
to connect with their customers.
That is one of the many ideas I gained from reading Steve Yastrow's
excellent book, WE: THE IDEAL CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP . . . what's needed is for customers to
think in terms of "we," as opposed to "us and them."
This needs to be done by creating:
* Encounters: interactions that improve your relationships [as
Transactions: interactions that often damage your relationship and,
at best, have no effect on your relationship.
Yastrow proceeds to give many real examples of ways to
accomplishment this . . . one of my favorites involved
the firm that cleans his clothes:
* I have used the same dry cleaners for years. Jim Dandy Cleaners
shows up, without fail, every Tuesday and Friday morning to drop
off clean clothes and pick up a new load that needs cleaning. One
Thursday night last summer I returned from a three-week trip out
of the country, and I had to leave again Sunday night for the West
Coast. On Friday morning, I stuck the dirty clothes in the blue Jim
Dandy bag, and put the bag on the front porch. Later in the day
I realized I'd want some of that clothing for my trip, but they weren't
scheduled to be returned until Tuesday. I called Jim Dandy, and the
owner's daughter answered the phone. I told her I needed some of the
pieces of clothing they had for an upcoming business trip, and asked
if it was possible for me to get them by Saturday afternoon. "I'll run in the
back right now and see if I can find your clothes. They're in the group
to be cleaned on Monday, but I'll bet I can find them. Let me know if you
can't get here by five tomorrow when we close, because I can leave them
at the store next door for you." Relief, I'll have my clothes. The next morning
at about 8:30 I got a call from Jim Dandy. We're delivering your clothes
in about an hour." Wow. Was this good customer service? Of course.
But calling it "good customer service" sells it short. It was way beyond
customer service. I truly believe that the people at Jim Dandy
sincerely wanted me to have my clothes for my business trip.
Wouldn't it be great if all businesses provided that type service?
To start, consider this simple-sounding recommendation from
* As you initiate encounters with customers over the next week, choose
to opt for the more immediate way to communicate. If you start to email
a customer, stop and pick up the phone. In another situation, instead
of calling a customer, go see her in person.
If you read WE, you'll get many more such ideas that you can immediately
implement to help your business grow.
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