Who is turning off your customers? (a marketing lesson from Maggie the mostly lab)

Maggie There's a new member of the McLellan family.  Maggie the mostly lab puppy.  When you get a new baby, you need to take her to the doctor, right?

Our old vet is great, but 20 minutes away.  And the last time I was there, we had to put our 13 year old lab to sleep.  So, I thought maybe it was time to try someone new.

I got a reference from a co-worker.  Word of mouth — check.   This was going to work out perfectly.

I walk in to the clinic and I am acknowledged by Michael.  It wasn't really a greeting.  More like a non verbal sigh.  So Michael leads Maggie and me into one of the exam rooms and begins to run through the intake questions.

We were in the room together for about 10 minutes, with Maggie sitting on the exam table.  Michael never stopped to pet her or even greet her.  He didn't say she was cute or sweet or even how lucky she was to be rescued from a shelter.  It was like she wasn't even there.  And if you've been around an 8 week old puppy — they're a little tough to miss.  I don't know anyone who can resist a puppy.  But do I want the guy who can providing care for my dog?

Total turn off.  I called the old vet from the exam room as soon as he left. 

When we got to the old vet's and the front desk tech (who I did not recognize or know) squealed "look at the adorable puppy!"  I knew I'd made the right call.  I didn't just want a competent vet.  I wanted a clinic where they'll love her.  Or at least scratch her behind the ears a bit.

Do your employees squeal when they see a prospect walk in the door?  Do they give them a good scratch?

Do you actually have any idea what happens when your customer or prospect walks in your front door?  Or calls?  Or e-mails?  Do you have an employee who doesn't share your passion or vision?  Do your employees know how you want your clients to be greeted or welcomed?

Do you know if they're turning off your customers?

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13 comments on “Who is turning off your customers? (a marketing lesson from Maggie the mostly lab)

  1. Ellen Weber says:

    Your story says it all and could be an introduction to a great book on this topic! Thanks Drew!! It changes the direction of our day and inspires a new awareness!

  2. Jim Kukral says:

    Yeah, great point, and cute puppy. I am of the same thinking. I try to get people to be happy when they see or hear from me. That’s my branding. But I’m no puppy, so it’s harder 🙂

  3. Great story that reminded me of when I was looking for a vet for my rescue dog. The same feelings of wanting my new dog to be treated well, or at least recognized were key to sticking with my vet.

    I want my vet clinic to be all about my pet and all their customers pets. Makes sure I stay there and I refer all my friends who have pets too.

  4. That’s so true. We have our vet for the same reason. She’s not the closest, but she cares and makes a big deal about the cats that come visit her.

    They even have aromatherapy drops that are supposed to calm cats down, and spend time trying to make our cat comfortable. When the worst happened last fall, and we had to put Honey to sleep, the vet heard how upset we were and volunteered to come out to our house so Honey didn’t have to spend her last minutes in a stressful environment.

    The feeling that she cares makes up for the longer distance and (slightly) higher cost. After all, I care about my pet… why would I trust her to someone who didn’t.

    I’ve done this in other instances as well. I drive 30 minutes to go to a stable on the other side of town because they care so much more about the students and horses than the stable 10 minutes away from my house.

    I went to Luther College because on the day I visited there, everyone (students, faculty, staff) smiled and said hi when they passed me. The whole community felt that friendliness was such an important value there that everyone lived it.

    That extra touch can make such a difference. It always boggles my mind that so many people miss that.

  5. Katie says:

    By the way, your new puppy is adorable! I’m so happy you have a new member of the family.

    It’s so hard to lose a pet, but it’s always wonderful to welcome a new one. We still miss our old cats, but Cali (the new rescued kitten) has already woven herself so far into our lives.

  6. Maria says:

    Aww! Hi Maggie!

  7. Ellen,

    Thanks. I’ve always found a good story to be the perfect teaching tool. Fortunately, we come across them every day!

    I’m sure you know better than I do, but it seems to me that our brains retain information/concepts better when they’re embedded in a story.


  8. Jim,

    I had an advertising professor who started out the semester with the statement….”Sex or puppies can sell just about anything!”

    20+ years later and I still remember. And I still think he has a point.

    So since you’re not a puppy, you’ll have to turn on the sex appeal, I guess!!


  9. Michael,

    And yet — our clients (and businesses in general) struggle with delivering on this all the time.

    Why do you think that is?


  10. Vanessa,

    When we translate our experience to two-legged customers, really we want the same thing. We want to be treated as though our problem is important or our need is understood.

    I think we articulate it better for our pets because we are their voice. But we should be articulating it for ourselves as well!


  11. Katie,

    I am betting most people have a brand loyalty to some business that requires them some inconvenience — driving a little further, paying a little more, etc.

    That your vet put your needs into perspective and came out to your house when Honey was failing has earned your loyalty forever. One act of understanding and compassion.

    If only all businesses would understand the power of that, it could be amazing.


  12. Maria,

    In pure puppy fashion — she greeted you back by jumping up and down in circles, while trying to bite her own tail.


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