Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Johnny Make Believe And The Art Of Treating People As People

Picking up from yesterday:

The veteran Dutch rock band Golden Earring, best known for the songs "Radar Love" and "Twilight Zone", has released some thirty plus albums since 1965 when its first one hit the record bins. On one of the bands more recent efforts, there was a song titled "Johnny Make Believe" which was a hit in Holland but not here. It tells the story of an individual who lived a wasted life, realizing only at its end the error of his ways. Might not sound like the stuff for pop radio, but it's a quite catchy tune.

Unlike the fictitious Johnny, no one is going to gather for the purpose of singing our praises if we throw ourselves away. It's over the top to compare the scenario laid out in the song to how we need to first sell ourselves to someone before we can sell him or her anything, including a policy. However, there are lessons that can be drawn from these lyrics.

As opposed to Johnny, we are best advised to seek out those who see us as we are long before we're on the brink of shuffling off this mortal coil. Most if not all retailers utilize 'secret shoppers,' employees who visit various stores incognito and act like a regular customer for the purpose of seeing how the employees interact with them. Do they say hello? Is their demeanor friendly? Do they ask if the 'customer' needs any help? If the customer asks for help, what is the response?

There are other bits of information for which the secret shopper looks. Is the store clean? Is it well-stocked? Are things where they belong?

In short, are the employees doing their job?

While hiring someone to secretly audit ourselves obviously isn't an option, we can utilize the same philosophy by inviting a peer to look at us and our organization with a critical eye. For example, how do we interact with both potential and existing clients? Are we using the full spectrum of social media -- e-mail, Facebook, Twitter -- to maintain contact with those who have entrusted us with their business?

Other areas warrant an outside examination. How's our customer service when someone calls? Are we answering the phone promptly? Do we keep hold times to a minimum? Do we speak clearly and professionally? When someone asks a question, do we do everything we can to swiftly provide an accurate answer? Should someone come into the office, does everyone make them feel welcome and important, or like an unwanted interruption to our personal conversations?

Speaking of the office, have someone you trust to be impartial give it a once-over. Does it present a professional appearance? If you have more piles of paper than the average recycling facility scattered about, with the featured design and decor looking like it was put together when the lava lamp was a must have, the answer is no. Is it clean? Are you and those you work with dressed appropriately for the job? If you want to wear a pith helmet, flip-flops, fluorescent orange shorts, purple knee socks and a Twisted Sister t-shirt to work it's entirely your call. That said, you're not exactly giving the impression of someone in command of the insurance world.

In order to sell yourself, you need to exhibit the mannerisms and appearance of one who has something worth the time, expense and effort to acquire. It's not always the easiest thing to carry off. We all have bad days. We need to develop the ability to set that aside -- set ourselves aside, if you will -- and do things right for the purpose of serving the people we've chosen to serve. Sometimes this does require being a bit of a Johnny Make Believe. However, unlike him we're not doing so out of dishonesty. It's for the good of the other person by providing them with a reason to choose a better quality of service. This comes from their working with you to protect their property and family should bad things happen.

It's worth the effort.

P.S. Oh yes -- the song in question:

1 comment:

  1. Julie Sosa-SpencerFebruary 3, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    Wow - If you take the time to really read this message, you can get a reality check. Thanks for this post, Jerry. I pulled the lyrics for the song so I could appreciate the message you are sending.

    Waitress, more wine
    We celebrate, the life and times of Johnny Make Believe
    He was the greatest liar, of all mankind
    The biggest drunk, you ever saw alive
    He was a devil, undisguised
    He will be sorely missed tonight
    And the next day, will never be the same
    Without the beautiful Johnny Make Believe
    So let's get high, laugh till we cry
    always remember, his last words:
    "farewell cruel world, all you pretty girls,
    don't send me flowers, hold me in your dreams"
    and then the spirit in the bottle
    took our Johnny for a ride
    Come on waitress, pour us more wine
    to drown our grief, for Johnny Make Believe
    He tattooed my heart, branded my soul
    He said: "Go for true love, not for fool's gold

    I am going to take the time to look at myself, my attitude and my work enviroment (my desk)- clean up and go forward. Sometimes we take for granted we are doing things the right way and need to step back and look at ourselves.
    Thanks for the message, I got it.