Preaching to the Irritated
Have you ever found yourself in that slightly stressful position of being elbow deep in cake mixture, with the oven pinging, carrot peel in your hair and bits of bacon sprouting from your cleavage? Nope not a usual Saturday morning at 12th Man Towers either but in honour of Yorkshire Day I'd promised Beef and Yorkshire Ale stew, Rhubarb crumble and Yorkshire Parkin for anyone who dared to brave lunch. So with an hour to go, without completing any dish and still needing to throw myself in the shower the last thing I needed was a knock at the door. Tempted to ignore it I dithered but gave in thinking maybe, just maybe it was one of those lovely Postcode lottery people with a big cheque.
Of course it wasn't, it was a casually suited gentleman telling me he'd been having a nice chat with my neighbours about the source of their anxiety and could he come in. Er....I now have cake mix dribbling from my chin, flour on my nose and smoke billowing from the oven....unless you're a well disguised Michelin awarded chef I doubt there is much you can do for my current anxiety but yes let's have a chat about it shall we...I really have nothing better to do right now!! Of course I politely(ish) asked where he was from and informed him how intrusive and inappropriate him calling on a Saturday morning was and never to darken my door again. I then went back to burning the dinner for our guests, muttering about the only cause of my anxiety being the unwelcome recruitment drive of whichever religious organisation it was that was unfortunate enough to call when I was home.
However, this isn't a rant about any church or religious practice but it did get me thinking about customer service and understanding need. At a very basic level this gentleman caller was wanting to sell me something...whether it was membership, a new version of my future or simply a chance to chat, whatever it was, he wanted me to respond in a certain way (one I'm guessing was more positive than I did). He may have argued he was there for the good of my health, but getting down to basics he was there to try and get me to do something which was ultimately for the benefit of his organisation.
So where did it go wrong?
Targeting: essentially there wasn't any! They were calling on every house on the street, hoping by chance to get a positive response somewhere. Aside from having absolutely no idea who was on the other side of the door, there was nothing personal or special about their approach to me - I was just another door on another street.
Discretion: the opening line was 'we've been talking to some of your neighbours about dealing with their anxiety'...oh really, my neighbours are anxious are they, why don't you share that bit of gossip with the rest of the street? And if you've used that line with them and I ask you in, they will know I am struggling with anxiety...thanks but I might just keep that very personal and sensitive disclosure to myself thanks!
Empathy: I know they have a script to follow but it would have taken 2 seconds to interpret that someone with cake dripping from their chin and a house full of smoke might not be in the most receptive mood for the conversation that was on the sellers agenda! Instead of ploughing on at clearly a bad time, it may have been more fruitful had there been a recognition of the visual cues with a suggestion to come back later and good luck for the task in hand.
Agenda: and finally, after I had shared my thoughts on their CRM strategy all I received was a shrug of the shoulders and a response that they were sorry I felt that way...yes because I don't agree with you I must be in the wrong. Neither of us were right or wrong we just have different opinions on some things, both of which we are entitled to, but because mine wasn't on their agenda it apparently had no validity
So, as I said this absolutely isn't a rant about any organisation and I have the utmost respect for anyone who has a belief or cause they are passionate about. It is absolutely however, a reminder for me about some of the things we might forget to look out for when we're busy, or excited by an idea or passionate about making things happen. Sometimes some of the most basic instincts and behaviours that can help build strong relationships which ultimately lead to business opportunities are the most simple - listening, observing and thinking about what's happening in someone's world could be the most powerful selling tools in the box!
As for the Yorkshire Day lunch...after the swig of Yorkshire Gin I sneaked once I'd closed the door everything is a bit hazy but it was delicious… or so I'm told!