Wednesday, October 13, 2010

God Bless Chile

The Big Story this morning is one of hopes realized, patience rewarded, and courage personified.

After 70-days a half-mile below the surface of the earth, the first ten Chilean miners have been hoisted to the surface in a tiny escape pod, dubbed “Phoenix.”

The live feeds on the internet and TV have been mesmerizing. The joy that erupts on the surface as each entombed miner is released from the pod is palpable, even through the video screen. It is truly a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving, and not just in Chile.

The world needs a good story like this to take our minds off the dreariness and dread of soured economies, dashed retirement plans, and mud-slinging politicians. The world needs an antidote for the sadness and anxiety, and the Chileans have provided this much-needed diversion for media addicts.

So what happens after the 33rd Miner is retrieved, and the rescuers are all pulled safely back to the surface? Life will go on in Chile. Life will go on in the United States. Tomorrow we will awaken to the same drudgery of high unemployment, embarrassingly low interest rates, and a shallow pool of options with which to solve these problems.

The Chilean Miners’ rescue gives us all a glimpse of the kind of success that we can look forward to with patience, determination, focus and planning, whether it’s plucking 33 trapped miners from a hole in the ground a half-mile deep, or steering the national well-being back to acceptable levels from our own deep economic hole. Perhaps that's the best lesson for us all, from the mountainous country half a world away from the U.S.: 
Steady and slow saves the day.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Gifts vs Freebies?

Seth Godin’s Blog today looks at Generous gifts vs. free samples

He writes, "Free isn't always generous. Free can be a legitimate marketing strategy, an ultimately selfish way to increase sales. Once you spread your ideas (and free is the best way to do that), there are all sorts of ways to profit.

"But don't be confused. Free samples and free ideas and free bonuses are not necessarily generous acts.

"A generous gift comes with no transaction foreseen or anticipated. A gift is a gift, not the beginning of a transaction. When you see a Picasso painting at the Met, Picasso doesn't get anything (he's dead). Even his heirs don't get anything. His art is a gift to anyone who sees it.

"Giving gifts is a fairly alien endeavor. In most families, even the holidays are more about present exchange than the selfless act of actually giving a gift.

"The cool part, the punchline, is that giving a gift for no reason and with no transaction contemplated is actually incredibly powerful. It changes your approach to the market, it changes your relationship with the recipient and yes, it changes you."

Speaking of which...a sincere thank you is in order for the Service Team at Joe Myers Mazda where I have The Silver Bullet serviced and cared for. 
They know my name there. 
They covet my car. 
Ellis McGowen is the Executive Service Consultant who is always wanting me to sell my him. 
Hey, Ellis, get your own drop-top. 
You can probably get an employee discount!

I took The Silver Bullet in for an oil change, and a week later, as luck would have it, the check-engine light came on. Ordinarily, the check-engine light is a revenue generator for a dealership service department, because they want to charge you to run the computer scan diagnostic that tells you what the light means. 

Joe Myers didn’t do that.
The last time it happened, they ran a scan, found no problem, reset the alarm, and sent me on my way--at no charge. This time, the check-engine light was for real, signaling a failing thermostat. 

So we replaced it...and during the repairs, a tool or something hard, was dropped on the fender: Door ding where door dings don’t normally appear.
Ellis said, “no problem” (his favorite phrase), and told me he’d take care of it...and any other door dings I might have. (He really DOES want my car!)

Enter Steven Clifton, Dent Man of Houston, who in 45-minutes, corrected the fender, as well as a half-dozen other minor door dings on both sides of The Silver Bullet.
No charge.
That was my check-out price.

I could have taken The Silver Bullet anywhere for service--it’s been out of the factory warranty for months. I took it back to Joe Myers because Ellis takes care of me.
Generous gift...or savy customer service philosophy? 
Doesn’t matter what you call it--it works for me.