Archives for August 2011

“I Don’t Give A Damn….

What you think you are entitled to!”

I was on vacation last week.  An amazing vaction on the new Disney Dream cruiseliner.  I am truly living a charmed life.  And I say that not to be pompus or a braggart.  I say this because I pinch myself everyday when I think about my life, my work and all the experiences I have had. 

Have I worked hard?  Sure.  Harder than some.  Not nearly as hard as some others.  Sometimes, not as smartly as I could have.  Have I gotten some breaks (or I’d like to think, created them)?  Sure.  More than some, less than others.

I don’t own yachts or real estate holdings and will probably work until the day they close the lid on the casket to give my kids a leg up I never had.  I look in the mirror and I see a regular Joe.  I am grateful for everything in my life.  Yet, I have high expectations.

But on this vacation, in observing some customers’ behavior, I started wondering when expecations morph into entitlement.  It’s interesting that the Wikipedia entry for entitlement links to the defininition of narcissism.

Entitlement is defined as “a guarantee of access to benefits”.  When I hear we live in a culture of entitlement, I’m not so sure that the definition is fair.  And from my vacation observations, I’m grappling with what drives people of what most would consider an economically priviledged population to develop a sense of entitlement.

On a ship where every staff member bent over backwards, sideways and upside down to accomodate each guest’s every whim, for some, nothing was good enough.

Because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the psychology of consumers, my attempt at analyzing the root drivers of this behavior settled along two dimensions.  It may be wrong-headed or unfair.  But I wonder who has a greater sense of entitlement?  Or at least, who is more prone to develop one?  Those that came from priviledge and always had?  Or, those that came from nothing and now find themselves, not Bill Gates kind of wealthy, but with a few bucks (and probably as many maxed-out credit cards) in their pocket?  Or maybe a narcissist is a narcissist, rich or poor.

Can anyone set me straight?

Honesty Really Is The Best Policy

I realized I hadn’t actually written about any customer service stories here in quite some time.  A lot of “other thoughts”.  But no good stories.  I got a good one.

As preface, I wrote a post a while back about one of my favorite subjects.  Maybe not favorite, but one of those feel good tag lines that makes my head explode.  “The customer is aways right”.  Without going into a rant about why that drives me nuts, because that’s not the point of this post, let me just ask you this.  If your spouse, boss, friends, relatives, (fill in the blank) were always viewed as “right” regardless of their behavior, how would that make you feel?  Enough said.

Back to the story.

I first became aware of my friend and colleague’s panache for dropping his iPhone from a Facebook update he threw up a couple of weeks ago.  We traded comments where I learned he’s not only dropped his phone about a thousand times, but he’s not eligible for an upgrade for a while.  And with the new iPhone 5 coming out, it was just poor timing for the touch screen to finally throw up the white flag.

Oh yea, he showed me the screen.  It was not pretty.  And did I happen to mention that this guy is the biggest raving Apple fan I’ve ever met?  To the core!  Perhaps that information might have been helpful to guy at the first Apple Store my friend entered who told him to cough up $200 for a new phone.

Never one to accept the first answer he gets on any topic, my friend went to store number two.  He told the Apple rep the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  He’s a klutz.  He drops his phone all the time.  And, he understands the product can only take so much abuse before crapping out.

For his honesty, the Apple rep thanked him for not trying to snow him and gave him a new phone on the spot – free.

So, there really are two morals to this story.

First, as I wrote this, it occured to me that Apple might need to keep a bit closer eye on its brick and mortar stores.  I’m a huge fan.  But, I’ve heard now a couple of stories of inconsistent customer experiences.  Designing a multi-channel experience is one thing.  Consistently delivering that experience, especially when you throw the store front thing into the mix, requires diligent attention, monitoring and tweeking.

Second, if you expect to always be right as a customer.  How about always being a stand up individual as well?  You get what you give.  My table neighbors at Applebees could stand to learn this lesson.