If you took a flight anytime during 2016, you understand how much of a pain in the neck it has become to fly. Some airports are much better than others, but my home airport in Seattle has terribly long lines to get through security. Sometimes you have to get there two hours ahead of time and barely make your flight, but other times you can zip through security and spend two hours waiting to board your flight. I thought I would apply for TSA pre-check to eliminate the process.
Do you know TSA-Precheck? You go through a back ground check and what not, pay $85, and in return, you do not have to wait in the long lines at the airport. You begin with an online application. The second part of the process requires you to be in person at one of the screening locations. Since I live in a remote area, it took me two hours to get to a location to get the back ground check.
I had an awkward experience during the TSA Precheck process, which is the basis for this episode.
There is no excuse for a customer having an awkward experience with you. You should know the exact experience your customer is going through. The only way to truly know what your customer experiences is to have the experience of your customer.
You have to know what it is like to do business with yourself. You may feel your training has been effective. Or your policies and procedures are working just fine, but you never know how it looks and feels from the customer’s side of the counter until you have stood there yourself.
And things you may not think are a big deal, can certainly turn out to be a big deal. So I had to stand awkwardly at the counter for a couple of minutes before anyone acknowledged me, even though there was someone right there at the desk. No big deal, right? The lady who helped me had an attitude like I was an inconvenience. In the big picture, does this really matter? Maybe the bathroom is dirty, or you hung up a paper sign three weeks ago, and it is all tattered and beaten up now. Does it matter?
All of these things matter.
But this also takes me to a third aspect; we have talked big business, we have talked small business, but what if you are so small, you are the business. This is the case with me. I am the business, I am the one who hosts podcasts, writes copy, or does the consulting. People are working directly with me, so how can I find out what it is like to do business with me? Even if I asked my next door neighbor or my cousin to work with me and tell me about the experience, I would likely treat them differently and make sure I did everything the best I could. So how do you handle it?
For starters, treat everyone like they are your friend, neighbor, or cousin when you do business with them. Everyone is important, and if you act as such, you will not have many problems, unless they ask to sleep on your couch. The other thing you do is ask for feedback. And be open to feedback.
Here are the three things I want you to remember from this episode about improving customer service and experience;
Some stories never die. One of those stories for me has been about an incident with a squirrel from my time as a park ranger.
Usually, episodes of the Jody Maberry Show are filled with ideas, advice, and content you can take action on in business. This episode I want to just have a little fun. Is that OK? You won’t get much advice in this episode, but you will get a good story.
I spent 8 years as a park ranger. As a ranger, you see so much. Most of it wonderful, some it awful, and some of it bizarre. And park rangers love to tell stories. Early in my ranger career, there was one incident that happened that labeled me the rest of my career. In the years since this incident happened, I have been asked to tell the story hundreds of times. It is what I imagine it must be like being a musician and having one hit song everyone wants to hear. Everyone wanted to hear the squirrel story.
Jason Harrod provided the music you hear during the story portion of this episode.
Next episode I will be back with content to help you market, mobilize, and master your message. For now, be careful of those squirrels.
If have a podcast, download my best ideas about building a profitable podcast.
One thing I have run into, mostly working with personal brands, people like myself whos business is built around the person running the business, is the reluctance to offer content for free. Some people are worried about giving away too much. The thought there is that you might be giving away something you could have charged money for. The other concern is the work it takes to create content, and just give it away is wasted time. It is time you could have used to create something that would bring income.
Both of those ideas are wrong. At least in my experience they are wrong. Not giving content away for free will likely have the exact opposite impact you expect it would if you are holding back so you can get paid for your work.
Here are five reasons you should give away content for free;
All of five of those reasons funnel into something Ray Edwards told us, Serve First, Profit Later.
Let me tell you one example I have seen of this in action. Sure, you may know some of the names Ray mentioned like Dan Miller, Michael Hyatt, or Jeff Goins. Maybe you don’t know them, but in internet entrepreneurial world, they are well known. But this idea works with the little guys too. Take Todd Smith. I host the Agents in Action podcast with Todd Smith. Todd put out high-quality actionable content twice a month on the Agents in Action for many months before he ever asked the listeners to purchase anything from him. Finally, he put together some live workshops for Realtors in the Dallas area where he is from. Like most of us, Todd had a bit of fear his workshops would be a flop. But as entrepreneurs must do, Todd moved forward anyway. And what happened? His workshops sold out. Why did they sell out? Is it because Todd is a nice guy. No. Todd is a nice guy, but people didn’t show up to give him a hug. Did his workshops sell out because he has 25 years experience as a high performing Realtor? No. That helped, but it is not why people paid money to attend his workshop. The workshops sold out because Todd had been giving away bonafide content on every episode of his podcast. People who listened to the podcast knew how good he was. They had a free sample and knew what he offered was worth paying for. The concept of giving stuff away for free does not just apply to Ray Edwards. It applies to you. And it applies to Todd Smith. And it applies to me, which is one of the reasons I do this show.
So maybe the secret is out. I do this show so I can serve you. So you will know me and like me. And perhaps someday, you may want to learn more from me in a manner that goes beyond listen to me talk on a podcast. But if you don’t, if you just enjoy hearing me talk, that is fine too. If you find value in this podcast, but never pay me a dollar for anything, that will still make me happy. That is how this works. You have to decide to give no matter what you get back.
And how does this work for you if you are not a personal brand or a business driven by a personality? What if you are a physical store? The principle is the same. Find some extra way to give and serve. If you are a chiropractor, offer education in a newsletter, podcast, or a blog. A local example for me comes from one of the hardware stores; they put on classes teaching kids how to build stuff. The class and the materials didn’t cost anything for the kids. And of course a parent came along with the kid, and when the time comes, it is the parent who is going to decide to shop at the hardware store and spend money because their kid learned to build a birdhouse there.
My last word on this, if people find value in your free stuff, what impression will that leave for your paid content?