John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Getting to Benny

Making Price Irrelevant…

How to get to “Benny” – One of my consulting clients is a large professional service firm, trying to differentiate themselves from all the other firms competing with the exact same services offered. There are the typical challenges when helping an organization transform into what we like to call a Customer Service Revolution. It starts with the top executives truly focusing and committing long-term to demonstrate this is not flavor of the month, program of the year or management by best seller. In some industries it is changing an old paradigm, a stale stubborn mindset that screams: “We are not in the hospitality industry. I am a professional who brings a highly-valued skill set and intellectual capital that my clients desperately need.”

This organization is guilty of the same, which is what the key decision makers recognized and why they determined to change their culture.  After the first year, everyone was excited about the momentum that the “Project Client Xperience” had produced. Yet there was still a great deal of work to be done.  A percentage of the professional service providers, including partners, had not totally bought in.  At one of our regional workshops, I had one of the more influential partners (let’s call him Larry) ask if he could share a story with the group. His story was about how one of their largest long-term clients had recently changed their CEO.  Any time an organization changes a CEO, all vendors are in danger of being replaced. So Larry went on to share that he knew he had to quickly demonstrate to the new CEO (let’s call him Greg Benedict) how valuable and how brilliant they were, before it was decided to start shopping their services.

Larry admitted it was a struggle; every meeting they had that the CEO attended was short and very transactional. Every time Larry and his associates tried to make small talk, share advice or demonstrate their expertise, Greg, who is known by his close friends as “Benny,” was not interested in engaging in anything more than the facts. He just wanted bottom line answers. Larry knew that once their current contract was up, they were going to lose this large long-term client.

That is when Larry started thinking about all the “Project Client Xperience” training, systems and tools they had been going through. He admitted while he didn’t put much stock into it, he decided he had nothing to lose. So the first thing he did was figure out what Secret Service  he could do on Greg. He realized that there was very little customer intelligence he had learned in the few meetings. He remembered about F.O.R.D. (family, occupation, recreation & dreams), but figured it was virtually impossible to find any of this out until he started doing some research online, especially via social media.  Through that, he discovered (most notably) that Greg was an avid triathlon competitor and was a big supporter of MS causes.

At the end of their next meeting, Larry briefly mentioned that he was aware that Greg competed in triathlons and how it was a “bucket list” item of his own to compete in one. Larry said, “Greg’s eyes lit up like cannon balls! Next thing you know, we are in his office and he is showing me pictures on his walls of different events that he was in and telling stories. He told me that if he could do it — anyone could. Over the next few weeks he was sending me advice, books and articles on how to train. I also found he has a daughter who is challenged with Multiple Sclerosis and that is why he is such a big supporter.”

Larry said several months later he was competing in his first triathlon with new buddy, Greg. Additionally, he has since become a supporter of the annual event Greg holds every year for MS.  Larry went on to tell the group how Greg’s company renewed their annual contract with Larry’s firm, but best of all, Larry said, every note or email he gets from Greg is signed “Benny.”

How well do you truly create emotional connections with your clients?



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