The perfect home run

Every so often I get calls from a supplier rep who says something like, “It says here, that I need to call you”.  And then I get some kind of half hearted pitch from them. 

More often than not, this is a cursory process that is needed so that staff member can tick the box and get on with whatever they do, the rest of the time 

Somehow, despite having account plans, a  CRM and job that is all about serving customers the people from this particular company have missed the one thing that might get my attention.  

We live in a time where most products and services are quite similar and these “moments of truth” are the times when a customer might walk because of such auto-pilot attitudes. 

Here is a very shortened version of  a true story that did the rounds a few years ago.  

In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning disabled children. A father is at a school function and he tells this story about his son Shaya

One afternoon, Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, “Do you think they will let me play?”

Shaya’s Dad asked if his son could play.

The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said “We are losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.” Shaya’s father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly.

Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field. Eventually it was Shaya’s turn.

Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

The first pitch came and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shaya.

As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung at the ball and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman.

Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first. Run to first.” Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the Third baseman’s head.

Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second.” Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing short stop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, “Run to third.” As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya run home.”

Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a “grand slam” and won the game for his team.

The story is by Rabbi Paysach Krohn and is based on the experience of one of his friends. It was published as “Perfection at the Plate” in a book called Echoes of the Maggid. You can read the full version at that site.

What has all this to do with CRM and customer service? Well as Gary Bencivenga puts it:

“It’s vital for all of us to understand that our prospects and customers are people, too . . . and people like to connect with others who are unafraid of showing a little humanity, of taking some time now and then to share a laugh, feel some warmth, express some sympathy, do a favor, help a charity, be a friend.

Whatever your product, however impressive your expertise, people will never care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Every now and then, toss a few pebbles of caring into your pond of contacts. Those ripples of friendship will spread and unfailingly return to you in waves of appreciation and loyalty.” Gary B

A certain level of empathy and caring is needed in customers services – some companies even call this their customer care team.

I wonder what would happen if the company which prescribes account calls for their staff got them to place a little card on their computer screen with comments like the one Gary mentions above.

It is not about the tasklist or the computer system – it is all about caring for people and letting your customers know that you care about their business as well.