Of all the commercial places, I don’t know where car dealerships would be ranked in term of the least desirable places to visit. My guess is that it is pretty low, comparable to pharmacies and tax offices. One of the reasons is the constant pushing and prodding from car salesmen.
Today, I wanted to see if I could go into a BMW dealership requesting a test-drive, while making it very clear I wouldn’t buy a car from them that day. Although for his time, I would promise I will visit him again when I do decide to buy a car. Will this promise be enough for the salesman to grant my wish?
A young poster kept asking me to do this McDonald’s Challenge, which is to get a McGriddle in the afternoon. Apparently, fast-food restaurants like McDonalds would not cook breakfast after 12:00pm, especially for food associated with eggs due to cross-contamination issues. Therefore, it’s impossible to get a McGriddle in the afternoon, according to the poster’s logic.
I love challenges, especially those that seem impossible. So, I went to a McDonald at 2:00pm today ask for a McGriddle. Would I succeed in getting the breakfast, or succeed in getting a rejection?
I have many readers sending me requests, and one of the interesting ones is to feed the big cats at the zoo. One of my criteria for a rejection request is that if I get accepted, it would be something I really want to do. And feeding a big cat is definitely something I would remember for the rest of my life.
Armed with curiosity and sense of adventure, I went to the Austin Zoo today, asking to feed their lion. What happened is extremely surprising, if not amazing.
Commercial rivalries are some of the most intense rivalries in the world. We have Coke vs Pepsi, McDonald’s vs Berger King, and Intel vs AMD. Of course, in the past decade, you can’t mention business rivalry without mentioning Mac vs PC, whose TV ads turned personal with frontal attacks on each other.
Personally, I use many products from both Mac and PC worlds. I have always wondered if I take a product from one company, and take it to the store that belongs to another, how would the store employees react? Today, I decided to try it by taking my PC ultra-book to an Apple store, asking for a repair.
To my surprise, Patrick from the Apple Genius Bar didn’t seem to be surprised/upset by my requests at all. He did trouble-shooting with me, while making it clear that his store can’t support non-Mac hardware in term of actual repair. He even mentioned that he learned something new as well. It would be very easy to say ‘no’ up front. His effort and attitude were really impressive.
One of comments by James Ham on Facebook page said “that goes to show that some people really enjoy their work.” I completely agree. I feel companies need to focus 50% of their customer support effort on making their employees happy, instead of focusing purely on customers. Because the best and most genuine supports come from happy employees wanting to help customers, not unhappy employees pretending or trained to be helpful.
1. Ask a paid customer, don’t be afraid to make requests in a reasonable and respectful manner. You can find out the quality of customer service from the company in a hurry.
2. Happy employees give great customer service. Make your employees happy.
My virtual friend, kindred spirit, and the author of the highly recommended book – Go for No!, Andrea Waltz, sent me a list of suggested rejections. I liked one in particular – asking for a live interview at a radio station. I liked it because I know I can inject more color and variety into their show with my story.
I was not surprised that I didn’t get through, but I was very surprised by how hard the receptionist worked on my behalf. Very similar to Jackie at Krispy Kreme, she took my request seriously and immediately started trying to find solutions. Her actions included trying to schedule me, calling a colleague for directions, giving me the contact info for the responsible party, and suggesting an alternative – calling into the listener line. She is a model receptionist and made me a fan.
Moreover, because I was able to see her hard work in front of me, I was able to appreciate for her effort. However, if I called her over the phone, and she put me on hold while working feverishly behind the scene, I wondered if I would appreciate her as much. This probably happens a lot during over-the-phone customer support, when representatives work hard but don’t receive the appreciation from customers, because the customers were put on hold, got annoyed by the wait, and didn’t realize the work.
As for me, I again experienced how tough it is to negotiate with a non-decision maker. No matter how hard she worked, a simple no from the decision-maker would completely negate her effort. What I should have done is to ask for the decision-maker, and discuss with him/her one-on-one.
1. Effort and attitude can satisfy a customer regardless of the outcome.
2. If the customer can’t see the customer support’s effort, he/she won’t appreciate the work as much. In that case, the representative could list her actions in a non-bragging fashion before and after she does the work.
3/14 is the National Pie Day, so I wanted to do a rejection session that has something to do with pizza/pies. Therefore, I brought my own ingredients to the Brooklyn Pie Company, asking to use them to make my own pie. On a pure economic perspective, this should be a no-brainer, since the company would be getting my business, saving money on raw material, and making me happy. Would they do it?
I like sign-holders, and even tried to be one myself once. People hold signs for many reasons, but they share one thing in common – they are not afraid of being judged by the opinions of others in public.
At SXSW, which is the biggest conference for geeks, I met one sign-holder who got my attention. He was a man in his 20s, holding a sign saying “drop your business card for a chance to employ me”.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more unemployed people in American than the population of Louisiana, Oregon and Oklahoma combined. Getting an interview itself is like rejection therapy, let alone a job-offer.
While job-seeking could be soul-draining, I wonder how many have tried the out-of-box tactics Anup employed. I don’t know how many jobs he can land this way, but I do know he turned the table and gathered more than 20 applications/connections in one day. And, he got a temporary job deal from me. I will follow up on this adventure.
I often think about things in term of upside/downside. For what Anup was trying, the downside (I can’t think of any) was so low, and upside (finding a job) is so high, I wonder why don’t every job-seeker try this? Why didn’t I try it?
1. Many people look for jobs. One sure way to differentiate yourself from the herd is creativity.
2. When you bid for a position, you are the weaker party. When people bid for your service, you are the stronger party. Try be the stronger party, even by rewriting the rules of the game.
3. If project gives you limited downside, and upmost upside, you are doing yourself a diservice by not doing it.
In college, I chose learning French over Spanish. Looking back, I should have given Spanish more consideration, as there are far more Spanish speakers than French speakers in the US. Now, I have another chance. Today, I stopped by Fiesta supermarket here in Austin trying to get a Spanish lesson from a store owner.
After some struggle, I finally got it. I don’t know how well I sounded… probably like someone from western Honduras.
Also, as a 31 years old, I won’t learn language the same way a 10 years old could. However, it didn’t stop me from having some fun. If I can learn one phrase every time I talk to a Spanish speaker and not afraid of rejection, I can carry out a very short conversation in one year.
1. El español es un buen idioma!
2. Rejectioñ no fearino!
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.” – Colossians 3:23
The “whatever you” quotes have been serving the perfectionists in us very well. However, the curious part of my mind has always been wondering – what if I take this wisdom and do the complete opposite, and try to be as bad as possible in what I do?
Fortunately, rejection therapy gave me the opportunity in doing just that. At SXSW, I tried to be the worst promotion salesman possible. Would people reject my pitch?
I had a plan, and it worked, but only briefly. During my third encounter, the person wanted the product/service no matter how bad I was. Once it happened, my mentality switched. My desire to be successful took over, and there was no turning back. I started trying to promote and sell.
Also, since I was as honest as possible in explaining that I didn’t know much about the product, it might have helped my pitch. In the world of everyone trying to assure everyone and sugarcoat everything, a little honesty could be refreshing, if not effective.
Learning: 1. Sometimes no matter how bad the sales person is, the prospect might really need the product/service. This ought to give those in sales some hope.
2. Be honest in our pitches. There is the famous example of Avis’ using “We are #2 but we try harder” as a campaign motto. Its honesty help to build the long-term trust between the company and its customers.