What do Americans really want…really?
Randy Mayeux provided an excellent briefing on Frank Luntz’s book, What Americans Really Want…Really. Its subtitle refers to “our hopes, dreams, and fears.” Over time, many (if not most) of them change. The same is true of consumer needs, expectations, criteria for purchase decisions, influences on those decisions, available funds, etc. Therefore, with all due respect to the value of the information that Luntz provides in this volume, far greater value (in my opinion) is derived from what he has to say about how to develop a mindset that can answer questions such as these:
1. What do I need to know?
2. Why do I need to know it?
3. Where can I obtain it?
4. How can I validate it?
5. With whom should I share it?
6. How can this information be put to most effective and productive use?
One strategy when reading this book is to focus on the questions posed that are of great relevance to one’s specific needs, interests, and objectives. For example, which should be the procedures for automated customer service? Luntz suggests three:
1. Three rings, max. People expect the phone to be picked up just after the third ring. That’s the standard set by home answering machines and cell phone voice mail, so people are conditioned to it.
2. Two people, max. Even more irritating than waiting for the initial telephone is being passed from one representative to another. A company is allowed only one transfer.
3. Americans, please. People are immediately suspicious when they hear a foreign accent. To them, it’s a sign that the help desk has been outsourced to God-knows-where and it immediately destroys our confidence that the problem will be addressed and resolved.
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Re Luntz’s third guideline, my own opinion is that the nationality of a customer service representative is much less important than are the person’s fluency in English, competence, and eagerness to provide assistance.
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