Lessons about customer service from Tony Soprano
and Club Med
Whether you work one-to-one or deal with customers in groups,
you identify a target market of customers most likely to value
what you can offer. You design processes to fit the tastes
of those clients. You anticipate their requests
Ideally, you recruit new customers who fit your target customer
profile, but sometimes you attract a customer who doesn't
belong. These customer misfits can drain your energy, alienate
other customers and fail to recognize the value you provide
through your service.
A lesson from Tony Soprano
For an extreme example of the wrong client, watch a few episodes
of The Sopranos, an HBO mega-hit. No HBO? Your video store
probably has tapes of the first two seasons.
Almost every episode includes scenes between mob boss Tony
Soprano and his psychiatrist, Janet Melfi. These scenes are
so realistic that professional psychotherapy associations
have included them in training programs.
From a customer service perspective, the psychiatrist seems
overwhelmed by her notorious client. She can't resist hinting
at his identity during a dinner party.
And Tony in turn is dangerous to his therapist. His curiosity
about her background goes well beyond the average client's
harmless fantasy, as he orders a wayward cop to follow her
around for a few days.
Tony means well. When the therapist's car breaks down, her
patient simply "borrows" the car and arranges for
a repair at one of the "family" garages. He brushes
away the therapist's concern about boundaries.
Your client will most likely be less connected, less violent
and less persistent. But you may find yourself dealing with
someone who is equally determined not to play by your rules.
A lesson from Club Med
The wrong customer can harm everyone and experienced service
companies know it. Suppose you signed up for Club Med with
the idea that you were going on a retreat, where the "wild
night out" would be a fireside poetry reading.
As soon as you realize your mistake, Club Med will fly you
back home and refund all your money. Bad attitudes are contagious.
You may not be as focused as Club Med, but your process will
most likely work best with a certain type of client. A cynical
client will challenge your value. A client who trusts without
questions will easily feel betrayed.
Service businesses thrive on established processes and systems
to serve clients, rather than relying on ad hoc "whatever
happens" policies. The "wrong client" drains
energy and can drive away "right" clients.
By staying focused you can direct energy to building relationships
with customers who enjoy each other's company and help you
find others who, like them, will value what you offer.
|Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and
speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast
move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com
or call 505-534-4294.