First Rule – Surpise people and don’t do what they expect. Our Post Office is a daily reminder of this principle. When we moved from Santa Monica to the small mountain community where we now live, our 439 change-of-address postcards were lost and never delivered. Most recently thelicense plates for the new car we got with a Costco Referral were returned to the state – why? Was our address incorrect? No. The same thing had happened to a man who was outraged in our post office the other day. He missed notice of a state licensing exam he needed to take because his notice was returned, so he must wait another half year before he can practice his profession.
Sadly we’re not the only ones with such unhappy tales. Overnight carriers have prospered thanks to the fate of our mail being as mysterious as those socks that somehow get lost in the laundry.
Second Rule – Make your arrival appreciated. Don’t show up on time. We learned this one the hard way more than thirty years ago when Paul had a contract with the Army Corps of Engineers and being a chronic multi-tasker, always sought to squeeze just one more thing in, resulting before rushing off late to meetings. One such day, the contracting officer said, “That’s it. No contract for you next year.” That worked out well for whoever got the new contract and us because we moved to California, became authors, and have done our damndest to do everything on time.
Third Rule – Let people know how busy you are – put off responding to calls or email for a few days. We can’t even keep count of the many times have we looked for another vendor, interview prospect or radio show guest because a phone call or email went unreturned. Each time someone else prospered by replying promptly. The 24 hour standard for returning a call has been usurped by instant mail and communicate-from-anywhere technology, making those who respond quickly the winners.
So let’s make a point of surprising our customers by doing what they expect and not only our competitors will prosper.
Adapted from a prior column in Connection Connection.
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