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Take My Money, Please!

a pair of glasses on a table

Take My Money … No Really, Please Take It

by Chris Patterson

Not long ago my son turned 21.

And in our family, that rite of passage began by going to O’Doherty’s in Downtown Spokane for his first “official” beer. That was easy and fun to check off the list. I mean, it’s O’Doherty’s, right?

For his birthday gift however, he had a more challenging wish.  

He had visited Germany on his high school senior trip and tasted a beer that remained special to him. “Dad,” he said, “all I want is some Augustiner Brau Munchen.”  
 Gulp … okay.  I knew this would take some effort. But: challenge accepted.

I called a local tap house and asked their buyer if he could help me track it down. “Well, you have to buy local so call XX (a specialty bottle place) in the valley,” he advised. So, I called and left messages, twice.  On the third call, I was able to reach the owner and tell him the story. He took down my information … and then never returned my call. Undaunted, I turned to the other specialty bottle place on the north side of the city, a mile from my house. This time, I went in and spoke to the owner. I told him the story, and the conversation went like this:

Me: So, I’m looking for Augustiner Brau Munchen.

Owner: We don’t have that.

Me: I know, but I’m asking if you can help me find it.

Owner: I don’t know where to look.

Me: You could ask your distributors.

Owner: I don’t know if they have it.

Me: Would you be willing to ask if they have it.

Owner: I wouldn’t know which one to ask …

Okay, never mind, I thought. Now it’s time to call the big mega box whole lotta wine company, three miles from my house. I shared the story with customer service, and she put me on a brief hold. In less than two minutes, the beer counter manager picked up and said, “Mr. Patterson, we can have it here for you in three days. How much would you like?”  
In each case, I expressed that it was a gift, for a milestone life event. In only one case did anyone care.

This story illustrates three main points to any guest experience, that has stuck with me in my consulting since then:

1. Every time a customer knocks on your door, rings your phone, or connects with you digitally … they are attempting to invest in your business. They hope to give you money. And the biggest question for us on the other side of that transaction is: are we helping them do that, or are we getting in the way? We can become so caught up in nickels and dimes on what we spend in our business, we risk turning a blind eye to the very people trying to hand us cash for our products or services. Guest Experience is King. It should be the least autopilot thing in our business. Yet all too often it is the most under-managed part of our business.

2. Being local often buys you the first call. Whether or not you treat that luxury with the respect it deserves … well, that’s on you and your team.

3. There is a monetary quote that exemplifies this story: “Money goes where it is welcome and stays where it is well treated.” If your customers’ needs aren’t front and center, the likelihood of them showing any allegiance toward your business is at risk.

Take a moment to think about who might be hoping to invest in your business right now, and what their experience is or will be.

Food for thought.

Chris Patterson is a Managing Partner at Navigator Consulting.

If you’d like to discuss this article or have any questions, please contact Chris at: