The Satisfaction Formula – Stretch

In this post, Dave Sweet and Jayna Sweet explore how STRETCHING (The Limits) is integral to maximizing customer engagement.

Over the years, Gumby has become our company mascot. Remember him? That green, bendy, Claymation humanoid character who starred in his own TV shows from the mid-1950s to the 90s? Yeah, that fellow.

– Andrew Mabey, Digital Artist

For us, Gumby embodies the level of flexibility we as a company know is crucial. He’s able to move and bend in every-which-way – without sacrificing the basic blueprint of his body. As a character, his flexibility doesn’t translate to pulling off his arm and throwing it across the room or splitting in half and misplacing his head. He stays fully intact while being able to stretch and grow and bend in ways that any given situation may require of him.

We strive to run our company that way. We have a road map to follow, but we know detours are allowed. We don’t completely disregard requests that go “against” whatever policies we have in place – and we also don’t completely disregard our plan in order to prove our flexibility.

“That’s our policy.” “That’s what the owner says.” “I don’t have the authority to do that.” “I’m not allowed to do that.” “We can’t help you with that.” “That’s just how we do things.”

How many times has a request of yours (as a customer) been met with a response like one of those above? How many times have you met a customer request with a response like one of those above? It’s more common than we’d like it to be. And, it all comes down to a lack of flexibility. As customer service representatives, servers, business owners, and the like, we should take a note from the practice of yoga. Instead of meeting an out-of-the-ordinary customer request with a quick “No, our policy says we can’t do that,” what if we paused, took a deep breath, and allowed our minds to open up? What could and would happen if we stepped outside of our perfectly straight lines and bent the rules in order to take good care of a customer?

It’s great (and even important) to have a plan, but if you allow that plan to become a prison, you’re only hurting your business. No super-strict, absolutely-no-exceptions-whatsoever policy is going to bring you more business or delighted customers. Sorry. That’s just the truth.

We all must have some sense of policy. We’ve stressed the importance of this in previous pages. However, getting stuck there, in rigid policies that limit the way you take care of your customers, is not recommended. We’re supposed to sell what and how the customer wants to buy. If your policies don’t allow the customer to do business with you in a way that makes them feel happy, you should rethink those policies. Why do we create rules that prevent us from satisfying customers’ wants and needs? It just doesn’t make sense! Becoming a stickler for set boundaries that hinder a customer’s experience certainly won’t increase customer retention or engagement.

Do your people know that they can go beyond some limits in order to do what’s right? Do they know boundaries can be stretched? Do they know you see the value in flexibility?

About the Authors

Dave Sweet, President of Phoenix, AZ-based automätik is an alumnus of THE Ohio State University.  Dave began his professional career with Caterpillar and Ford Motor Co., and in 1990, he linked up with J.D. Power & Associates to serve as a consultant, facilitator, and instructional designer. His experience led him to start automätik, a company Dave and his wife Kathy have grown from a two-person consultancy into a full-service Tier One international training and events firm with a mission to eradicate boring training from the face of the Earth. For nearly three decades, automätik has helped some of the most prestigious consumer brands in the world elevate their internal training and corporate events, including Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW/MINI, Sub-Zero and Wolf, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
As the daughter of Dave and Kathy, Jayna Sweet has been around customer service her entire life. An actress and writer with experience as a barista, dog walker, call center representative, and communications designer, Jayna lives smack-in-the-middle of the two biggest generations – Millennial and Gen Z – and provides a truly unique perspective on customer service.

Learn More

Interested in learning more and purchasing the book? Check out The Satisfaction Formula’s website and come back next week to learn the importance of THINKING THINGS THROUGH!