Fly-Fishing for Customers

Very big disclaimer!  There are parts of a fishing metaphor that do not work when it comes to great customer service—like bait, hook, catch, or reeling in.  But, regular fishing is to fly-fishing what whittling might be to scrimshaw; or grilling might be to gourmet confectionary baking!

Successful fly-fishing starts with a deep understanding of the fish.  Regular fish might be attracted to any old slimly worm on a hook, but a rainbow trout is very particular.  Buying or crafting a tiny lure that looks exactly like the insect the trout enjoys is an art in itself.  It means gathering up-to-date intelligence on the trout’s preferences and requirements.

Then, there is presentation.  In fly-fishing, you don’t just throw a line in the water and wait for the cork to go under.  You present the lure to the trout in a fashion that is appealing and animated.  Are you starting to see how this fits customer service?  Fly-fishing takes enormous respect for the trout and special patience to get what is offered to precisely fit a trout’s interests.

But, the key difference between regular fishing and fly-fishing is what happens after the trout accepts your offering.  Regular fishing requires you set the hook and reel in the fish.  If you did that with a fly line as thin as a thread, the weight of the fish alone would snap it allowing the trout to escape.  Just like customers, you land a trout, you don’t catch one.  The fish remains in the water until it can be gently led into a dip net.  And, then the most important part--the experience of the trout after it has been landed.  Granted, some end up in the frying pan (that part should never fit customers!)  Fly-fishing typically involves the use of a tiny barbless hook aimed at causing zero harm to the fish as it is released with minimal physical contact.  Give a rainbow trout a great experience and it will taste your lure on a future fishing trip.

Customers are particular about your offering and require a tailored offering and appealing presentation uniquely suited to their interests.  It means going to school on customers just like anglers carefully study fish.  Once a customer has accepted your offering, provide an experience that remains customer-centric from start to finish.  But, gaining a customer is only the beginning.  The goal is to get customers to return and bring their funds and friends.  How are you preparing to provide a service offering and experience that ensures your customers will want to continue to “taste your lure?”  Let’s go fishing!
 

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© Chip Bell Group, 2012.  Courtesy of John R. Patterson (www.johnrpatterson.com).  Permission is given to download and distribute this article as long as it contains this copyright notice.  For other short articles visit our blog site at www.taketheirbreathaway.com