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Goober Pyle’s Customer-Centric Marketing Secrets

It’s true that everyone wants to provide great customer service and have repeat business from those customers.

Marketers tout on a regular basis that their goal is customer-centric marketing, reaching the customer at their pain points and providing solutions.  They try all sorts of marketing strategies based on collected data to personalize and optimize customer interaction.

Unfortunately, the goal is often missed and customers lose that center-of-attention feeling and move on to other sites.  The solution for marketers however, may be found not in sterile stats and big data, but from a character in a 1960s television series.

Goober Pyle, the character on the Andy Griffith Show played by George Lindsey, exemplified the traits, talent, skill, and knowledge needed to provide customer-centric marketing that is still successful today.  Goober took over the position of Mayberry’s gas station attendant after Gomer Pyle, (played by Jim Nabors), joined the Marines, leaving Goober to fill the role of customer service rep, marketing executive, and CEO of tire inflation.

Goober was respected and trusted by everyone in the town because they knew that he would provide the best service.  (Of course, it didn’t hurt that his gas station was the only one around for miles, but that was his moat and is fodder for another marketing article at another time.)

A lot of wisdom (and laughs) can be gleaned from watching the Andy Griffith Show and following Goober during his workday, but here are three key points that stand out we can begin implementing today to make our service and marketing more customer-centric:

Goober Listened

The late, great Ernest Hemingway once said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.  Most people never listen.”  Marketers would like to believe that they listen to what the customer wants based on the data they’ve collected.  Surveys, search engine results, ad clicks, and more provide valuable information that is great for creating a customer profile, but listening goes deeper than that.

Goober always listened, I mean really listened, to what the customer had to say before responding.  He wouldn’t form an opinion about a person until he really had a chance to know them.   Of course Goober would listen with his mouth open in child-like anticipation, but he still listened.  When we do the same (minus the open mouth), we not only hear what the customers want, need, or complain about, but we listen to how they say it.

We can’t always read the body language of our customers in the world of ecommerce, but we can take full advantage of communication tools that customers have access to.  This includes monitoring all support channels such as online chat, tracking customer interactions, call center or customer service lines, and social media.

The wise Goobers in today’s world monitor social media comments, and respond immediately.  They address customer complaints on chat and listen to what customers really wanted through the customer service line.  Goobers gather this information in order to act now getting ahead of the customer rather than reacting later.

Goober Spoke Japanese

Well, not really.  He was really just a country boy more on the hillbilly side, but he did employ an Eastern philosophy that is so missing today.  In Japan, there is a term for the hospitality or customer service that is provided there.  It is Omotenashi.  It is best described as anticipating the needs of the customer before the customer makes a request.

In the US, we have a lot of great companies that provide fantastic customer service.  We tell others about them and they tell others and so on.  It is great marketing.  However, customer service here is often dictated by a manual or policy.  Employees are told that if the customer requests X bring them X,Y, and Z.  There is nothing wrong with this approach and it obviously works.

However in Japan, it is expected that exceptional service be provided.  It is not mandated by the employer, but comes from the heart of the person delivering the service.  It is ingrained in the Japanese culture.  In fact, most places in Japan are insulted if a tip is offered for service.  They see it as simply what should be done.

Goober adopted Omotenashi and would work relentlessly trying to get a car running, fix a flat, provide alternative transportation, and anything and everything else that would help to make the customer happy.  Goober knew his job and not only wanted to provide satisfaction to his customers, but he would make sure that if he found another problem not addressed by the customer, he would fix that too.  He could sense what the customer needed and addressed those needs.

One current example of this philosophy at work is found with the retailer Tesco, located in the UK.  The company sends out coupons to shoppers who recently purchased diapers, but not only for baby wipes and toys but also for beer.  Their data analysis revealed that new fathers tend to buy more beer, because they are spending less time at the pub.

Recent studies revealed that US companies lose $41 billion due to poor customer service and that 44 percent of customers switch to a competitor following a poor customer service experience.  We can find numerous examples of online retailers providing customer-centric marketing and service and the secret, as Goober found, is in not “What” the customer is offered, but in “How” they are treated.

Goober Surprised and Amazed

Goober’s customer service standards were often above the customer’s and he stubbornly stood his ground when it came to making a repair or pumping gas.  His confidence in his abilities spilled over to the service he provided for his customers as he doggedly worked until the vehicle purred like a kitten even if the customer didn’t bring the vehicle in for that kind of treatment.  Goober always surprised and amazed his customers.

You can do the same.  The customer-centric ecommerce business looks for ways to provide amazing customer “Wow” moments.  Examples include Microsoft’s success with email offers for its search engine Bing, where emails were tailored to the recipient at the moment they were opened.  Then, within 200 milliseconds, advanced analytics software assembled an offer based on real-time information about the customer.  Microsoft was anticipating a need the customer may have and offering a solution.

Another example is the famous Oreo dunk tweets that went out during the power outage in the 2013 Superbowl and how that ad not only surprised customers, but provided a “filler” solution while awaiting the return of the game.  According to Forbes, the Oreo tweet, “You can still dunk in the dark,” was retweeted almost 15,000 times and Oreo’s Twitter following increased by about 8,000 and received 20,000 likes on Facebook.

Goober’s pride in his workmanship didn’t allow for him to cut corners or skip over quality for the sake of quantity. This led him to develop a reputation for being perfectionist and in more than one episode caused Andy Griffith to recommend Goober to a customer as the greatest mechanic around.

Be a Goober

After the Andy Griffith Show, George Lindsey played the same character on the hit show Hee Haw, and in stand-up comedy shows for many years.  Lindsey died in 2012 at the age of 83.  He was loved for his innocence and simplicity which is probably why his character was so successful in providing great customer service.

Goober didn’t depend on the cold, sterile facts of data alone, but truly cared about his customers.  He employed Omotenashi without even knowing what it was called and anticipated the needs of his customers before they even knew they had any.

He went out of his way to “wow” his customers, even looking for creative ways to do so.  And through it all he was always smiling.  He smiled from the inside out and it was a contagious smile that made others feel good about doing business with him.

This is true customer-centric marketing because it begins in the gut with a desire to please.  Accept your vital stats and market research as tools to guide you in your offerings, but find out why customers are behaving the way they are.  Strive to reach them in anticipation of their needs before they ask you.  Become a Goober today.

Johnny Duncan is a human capitalist consultant providing solutions for all aspects of the people side of business including customer service training, marketing, leadership coaching, sales instruction, health and safety training, and business copywriting.

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