4 Minutes with Little Miss Dangling Arms


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4 Minutes With Little Miss Dangling Arms

I  am not one of those people.  I write about great service, not bad service.  If I write about bad service it’s usually about how we the consumers aren’t as saintly as we like to believe we are.

But then Monday happened.  4 minutes of shock and awe(ful)

It was so bad it was almost funny.  It was actually funny.  Like out of a movie funny.

I’m not sure of the lesson here today.  Maybe it’s to say that even in a highly competitive market with technology alternatives ( and really, isnt that true for all of us? ) that service like this still exists or maybe it’s just to prove the old adage that you will indeed tell 10 people ( or um..a bit more if you have blog :)) if really bad service happens to you.  Not sure, but here goes.

Monday 11:41 am.

I had to go to this unnamed place.  You’re familiar with it I suspect.  It is a place where you can get a package to someone who needs it.  And boy,  was that ever true.   My 16 year son who lives with his Mom during the week 80 miles away, left his Galaxy S4 Smartphone on my kitchen counter Sunday as we were leaving.  For my son ( and for many of his ilk), that’s like leaving your severed limb in the wood chipper and knowing that in mere hours, certain death will ensue.  

“Hi, I need to make sure I get this package to my son tomorrow, I’m not sure the best way to do it.”

 “Where does it need to go?” she said.

 I gave her the town name. 

“Do you have the zip code?” she said.

“No, I’m sorry – I don’t remember it.”  I replied.

She stared at me.  Slight smile.  Arms relaxed by her side.  She stared at me some more. 

Awkward.  Really awkward I thought.  I concentrated and gave her a zip code that came to mind.  She typed it in.  “Nope,  that’s not it.” 

She stared at me.  Those arms dangling by her side.  Dangling by her side.

Finally I said “Do you want me to look it up?” I asked, as I reached for my IPhone.  I didn’t know what else to do.

She just smiled.

I googled it.  It took 2 sites and 5 clicks to finally get the zip code and I gave it to her.   And yes, as I googled it,  the shocking irony occurred to me.  I am standing in a place where the Zip Code must be King, where The Zip Code is probably an Ebook with a 5 part ethics pledge employees must swear to and where TV shows like 90210 run continuously in the break room.   And I can’t get a bloody zip code from anyone but me. 

And it wasn’t over. 

“Just fill the out the To and From addresses right here on this and it will be $16 dollars. ” she said.

“And when you are done with that,  Ann can help you.” she added. 

Ann?  Who’s Ann?  I thought.   I looked up from writing and then past Little Miss Dangling Arms and saw no one.

Before I could figure out who Ann was,  Ms. Arms slid forward a big plastic sign under my nose that said “Next Window Please”.

I looked left and saw who must have been Ann at that next window with 2 customers in her line. I returned my gaze to my now staff-less service desk and realized my 4 minute transaction would be much more than that as I was about to be getting back in line to Ann.

Heading back to my car after finally getting my son’s smartphone shipped off in an ice packed cooler, I realized the effort Little Miss Dangling Arms took to overtly not help me and make darn sure no one and nothing was getting in the way of her 11:45 am break.  Wow.

Now you know one of the all time lows in customer service.  Not sure how that helps but I think now I know why I wrote it –  I feel better having told um,  let’s call it 10 people. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.



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Trust Your Wince-tincts



Trust Your Wince-tincts

We Wince.  And wincing is a big deal. 

Think about the Wince: our eyes squint up, we squeeze our shoulders together and we wish just for that moment,  that we weren’t there to see or hear whatever it is that is making us wince.

Wincing is not good.  Not good at all.  But it can help you figure out stuff for the better. 

Sometimes bad acting will make you wince (Hugh Grant comes to mind).  Some movies are 2 hours of a Wince fest (I’m still scarred by that kid movie Chicken Run a decade ago).  Nick Jonas as Marius in Les Miserable 25th anniversary show is probably this century’s greatest wince to date.  But many times you wince in the marketplace or at work.   That’s something we can fix. 

In the marketplace you often sense in advance the wince is coming like when the store clerk says to the customer in front of you “ Do you have a rewards card?” then you wince and immediately drop your eyes to the ground.  Why? Because you know what’s coming – the horrible cross sell -“Would you like to sign up for one..?”  And the wincing isn’t over because its your turn now –you’re about to get the same WinceDom from the clerk.  Ugh.

I wince when the waiter gets too familiar too soon and leans down and just about cuddles up next to me to share the day’s specials (just as he was trained to do I am sure).   I Wince at the airport when I hear the gate agent say “And now we welcome our Delta Super Flyers, Northwest Perks Puppies, Frequent Flyer Super Dupers and Platinum Star Cadets” or whatever it is they say.    It’s so rote and boring and there are just so many titles that it is meaningless and downright embarrassing.   I also wince when I hear at the end of a phone call;   “Have we met all of your needs and are you satisfied with your experience with me today?”   This is a Wince slap no matter how I feel.  Ugh.  What do you think I’m gonna do if I’m not happy?  Pick a fight?  Just tell me “Thank you for your business” and let me go.

I’ve come to think that Wince is a very good word and tell for uncomfortable sales and service.   It’s a great descriptor and is great for identifying those moments that need real help and that need to be fixed because wincing is very truthful.  You have a hard time faking or making up a wince on the fly – It’s just the way it is.    Those moments you wince in any experience are called Wince Points.

Wince Points are no fun.   We should make them go away. 

What about you? What are the Wince Points for you?   When you listen to your colleagues over the wall or listen to client interactions remotely, or along side a sales rep in the field; what makes you wince? 

I wince with my eyes squeezed shut when I hear stuff like “I’m calling just to check in…” or “We have 1/2 off anything new if want something”.  I wince when I see vendor slides that begin with their credentials and not what they’ve learned about me first.  I wince when I see 10 bullets on a WebEx, hear a dog barking in the background in a virtual meeting, see an unchanged automated invitation to me to connect on Linked in, read emails with suggested times to meet but no indication of time zone and I wince when someone tells me to consider then earth when deciding whether to print this document just to name a few more.

Wince Points are everywhere.

Focus on the winces.  And trust your “Wince-tincts. They are truthful and honest moments.   Make a plan, create a process, get a training or get some coaching to help get rid of the winces.

If it makes you wince, there is something wrong with that moment. Don’t fight it, just go and fix it.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.


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Real Small Biz – Good News


Real Small Biz – Good News

Go golfing when you want.  Play with the kids more.  Coach a team.  Be around so I can act in a play.  Get a new truck.  Sleep late when I want to.  Don’t want to be told what to do.   I like my life now.   I can change it up every couple of years.  I could always do it better anyway.  Leave an impression.  Make my wife proud.  I can fire my clients.  Work from home.  Help my brothers and their kids.  Be the boss.  Take control.  Have some fun.  Challenge myself. 

“What is the good news about having your own business?” was the question.

These are the real answers by real small business people.  I know because I’ve heard them say it first hand.    And these answers aren’t so unique or rare.  These are, when you really get down to it, what real people who own businesses say. 

And now that you know that, what the heck do you have to offer that helps these people keep rolling in this good news?   

Yeah, you’ve got some thinking and reworking to do.   Have at it. 


Till next time,

Grow The Business.



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Why I Hate Disney



It’s their employees mostly. 

I just spent three miserable days at Disney World.

I was at a Learning conference and that was great but the employees at Disney were something else. 

Enough with the eye contact!  I don’t know you and you don’t know me so quit looking me in the eyes all the time.   Let me avert my gaze at the ground or the menu or my beloved smartphone or anywhere else I’m comfortable with.  My mother used to look me in the eyes all the time – usually when I was in trouble.   I spent 3 days walking around Disney wondering what the heck I did wrong.

They wouldn’t let me open my own doors (though I know exactly how to do it and have never injured myself ) and even more rudely – after I struggled to dig out cash, uncrumbling it from my pocket to hand it out as a tip, they refused to take it.   How insulting and ungrateful.

Obviously there is lot of potential trouble brewing around the place too.  I’ve never seen more well dressed managers and supervisors walking around always checking on things.  Always ambling up, smiling and chit-chatting with the staff.  Made me nervous.  Must be a history of random guest chaos or something.  They should just go back into their offices and only get involved when someone has a complaint, like normal bosses do.

I’m not old and hardly selfless but given the number of “Mr. McCarthy’s” and “Thank You’s” I got  from the staff, I thought I was both.  I am darn proud not to be a Baby Boomer ( having missed that designation by a whole year thank you very much) and frankly I gave at the office, so I’m not sure why I remind you of your dad or what you are so gushingly thankful for.

Finally, I was appalled that I never saw a Disney employee sitting down or wearing anything but a smile.   Nobody had a chair  whether they were behind a desk, a booth, a counter or actually anywhere.   And smiling all the time? That’s just creepy.  Heck, I spend most of my day sitting down and hardly ever smiling from what I’m told.

Anyway, I heard Disney was conducting some kind of session at the conference about how they train their employees (ahem.. “cast members”).    It was supposed to be a “best in class” kind of session.  Yeah right.  Got it already.  Glad I didn’t waste my time going to that one. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.


Ugh! The World Cup Soccer Sales Approach


I figured out why some of our sales efforts don’t work so well.   We sometimes use the World Cup Soccer Sales Approach.  

I tried watching the World Cup over the weekend.  I did.  I watched England vs. USA and Germany vs. Australia.    I was annoyed, confused and bored.    I walked away.  

Thankfully those 5 hours I wasted made me realize that the World Cup Soccer Sales Approach is dangerous.  Use it on prospects and customers and they too will become annoyed, confused, bored and walk away.   

In order to see if you suffer from using the WCSS approach let’s take a look at the nasty 3 step problem that is World Cup Soccer and its sales counterparts.

Step 1Annoy Your Audience.  The trumpets have got to go.  That incessant drone (and it really does sound like angry bees) is all that you hear.  It borders on inane.   This is white noise of the worst kind; white noise that is too loud and won’t go away.   White noise like this can be damaging to sales especially when we cold call (or warm call) customers or prospects poorly.   For those 10, 30 or 120 seconds of you spouting your benefits, or “our possible fit” and other drivel like “I can save you time and money” these folks hear blaring in ear and brain self talk like “How do I get rid of you!”, “Can I just hang up???…” I have got real work to do!!.   Annoying white noise is a big deal especially when practicing interruption marketing or sales.

Step 2 : Confuse Your Audience:   I’m not following what these guys are doing with the ball.  Moving forward, passing backward 3 times, moving forward, and passing backward again and again.  And offsides?; impossible to figure out even in replay.    How often does your client or prospect get bounced or passed around to someone and they don’t understand why either?  How often, just when your client thinks they are moving ahead, does she have to tell her story repeatedly to customer service, technical support, an account manager or in chat?  Confusion causes tension and tension stops sales.

Step 3:  Bore Your Audience:   This is the worst because if you can somehow get past the trumpet blaring white noise and figure out the confusing way to work with your business then it all goes for naught if you are downright boring.  I heard a joke over the weekend that that soccer call “gooooooooaaaaaaaaaaallllllll!!!” is really an alarm clock for the sound asleep American on the couch.  My wife was sound asleep watching soccer with me (her last utterance something like.. “nothing is…happening…” ).  And while the commentators never yelled “goal” like in the joke to wake her, the point is not lost.  Boring does not sell.   If your business is unremarkable (especially after that first sale) then your clients and prospects will walk away.   

Till next time,

Grow The Business.


Josh Beckett Came To My House Saturday


Mr. Beckett showed up at my house on Saturday.   Josh is a pretty famous major league baseball pitcher and currently plays for the Red Sox.  

My wife had been cleaning all morning in anticipation of his arrival (I told her that it was not a big deal; the house looked fine- but you know how that goes).

I had a busy morning too and was in the backyard when Josh rang the doorbell an hour early.   My wife answered the door and not being much of a baseball fan, she didn’t recognize him even though he was decked out in his baseball jersey that said “RED SOX” on the front and “BECKETT” on his back.  

I came around the front of the house and was surprised that he was wearing a game jersey. Not what I expected.  I was then shocked he had put a ton of weight on and got about a foot shorter since the season started.   I looked a little closer…. and realized……. that it wasn’t Josh Beckett at all, but the cable guy who was scheduled to come about an hour later.

There are a lot of problems with this; not the least of which is that there is an age when a man should stop wearing another man’s name on his back (and that age should be about 14 ).  But there are bigger problems than that; problems that people and companies should fix.   Problems you can get involved in solving.

Problem A):   He scared my wife.  Really scared her.   That is not good.    Who is this guy at the front door in khaki’s and Red Sox Jersey?  She literally told me later “I was freaked out and scared, I had no idea what he wanted and you were way out back”.   (It was only because our dog was barking that I even came around to the front of the house.)

Problem B):   I didn’t trust him the entire time.  About anything.  He was there for an hour adding some cable service and because he chose to wear his Saturday best and he scared my wife, I had a lot of tension and concern watching him work around my house.  If you don’t care how you look, do you care how you work?  

Don’t tell me that his truck should be a giveaway.  His truck was parked behind our two cars and the lettering on the truck if you chose to walk up to it, was tiny, had no colors and no logo.   It doesn’t matter.  If someone comes to your door dressed like he’s ready to go to a tailgate party, you’re not looking at his vehicle for a company or a brand to begin with.

If you serve businesses or are one you’ve known (supposedly) for years about the value of having that logo and that personalization on the clothing because it makes the customers feel at ease and that your company is professional.   So why is it not happening still today?

Uneasiness was the tenor of the day and hence, the entire experience was certainly not professional.

Right or wrong, because of the way he dressed Saturday, I questioned everything about him.   I questioned his ability, his commitment to his company and whether he had any concern at all about me, the customer.   That’s bad news.

And worse now, whenever I see Josh Beckett pitch I’m going to think about the cable guy and wonder if my picture in HD is really as good as it could be.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.