Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Last Laugh

I recently wrote a blog for UPworld about joking. Knowing full well that this is a business audience connecting professionals interested in real estate, design, architecture, engineering, and construction. The suggestion was put to the readers of this blog to seek-out humor that is timeless if a bit formulaic and funny if a bit silly while being artfully inoffensive. If we believe people want to do business with those they know, like, and trust it might make sense to let humor be a point of difference.  
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The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting - or so says the famous Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu.  It seems humor can be a powerful tool if we can appreciate the nature of competition in this digital age. Naturally you will want to set yourself apart as a premium provider of smart solutions. (Solutions that solve real problems ranging from quality service, workmanship, reputation and reasonable value. All at a price that is acceptable.) Think about it this way: You want engagement with business prospects. You have to find ways to create meaningful dialogue with your customers. That dialogue is only possible if you create an environment of approach-ability. In the scheme of things your current customers and employees become the most important ambassadors for your firm.

As a case in point, allow me to give a specific example. A general contractor, of whom I was working, was struggling with a client who was feeling less than satisfied. At the heart of the customer’s complaint was the notion that communication was falling short of expectations. “I think the problem was the lack of communication with our organization about schedule, cost and project updates,” he said in an emergency meeting between customer and general contractor CEO.

The CEO paused a moment and responded, “That’s funny because I have here some verbatim comments from your project manager specifically to the contrary.” As it happens the CG had funded an outside researcher to conduct a customer satisfaction survey. Used diplomatically, the objective evidence (in a written report) allowed the General Contractor and his client to better understand and mend the working relationship between the two firms.    

The objective report was just what the two executives needed to let their guard down and share a laugh and address what appeared to be the real issue – flawed communications between builder and customer. 

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