Every now and then, when I want to drum up business, I’ll try to come up with a gimmick. One time, some years ago, I made an offer to a bunch of my existing customers: refer me to a new customer and I’ll give them a discount and you a freebie. The first to take me up on it was a lovely chap in Geeveston named Jackie. Jackie had overheard Cecil, who works at one of that town’s many art galleries, complaining about his computer. He passed on my card and then gave me a call to let me know. Cecil called not long after, and I went around. His problem was not too complicated, but the art biz is not what it once was so he was glad of the discount. I helped him, and we were all happy.
It was while I was hard at work on his laptop that Cecil told me an interesting story, which I now relate. It just so happens that I was not his first choice of an IT support person. He first called a chap in Hobart who I will call Mr Voy. Mr Voy had made the perilous trek to Cecil’s home in Police Point, which is a rare thing for a Hobart-based tradesperson of any sort. He listened attentively, worked swiftly and was the epitome of professionalism and politeness. Cecil was immensely impressed. He decided then and there that he would recommend Mr Voy’s services to anyone who would listen. When the invoice for Mr Voy’s services arrived in the mail, Cecil was only mildly alarmed at the price, but his memory of the experience was so positive that he paid without hesitation. His intention to sing Mr Voy’s praises did not waiver.
Imagine how impressed he was, a week later, when Mr Voy called up to check that everything was all right. Cecil confirmed that, yes indeed, the computer was behaving exceptionally well, and he was completely happy. Mr Voy pressed, eager to ensure that there were no lingering issues, and Cecil admitted that he wasn’t completely sure about the process for using the scanner on his printer, which Mr Voy had outlined during his visit. Mr Voy was happy to go through the steps again: type “scan” into the search box, select “Windows Fax And Scan”, press the “New Scan” button, and so on and so forth. Cecil wrote this down carefully, and thanked Mr Voy again for his careful and helpful service. He hung up with a warm glow, pleased at how this instance of the sometimes vexatious interaction between customer and service provider had proceeded.
It need not surprise anyone that Cecil’s next interaction with Mr Voy was not as warm and friendly. It may have involved some very short words, few in number but crystal clear in meaning. They conveyed the news that this latest invoice would not be paid, and that no further correspondence from Mr Voy would be welcomed. It was while telling this story to a regular in his art gallery that Cecil was overheard by Jackie, which is where we came in.
Cecil remains a customer of mine, as does Jackie. Jackie got his freebie a couple of months later, when his internet was playing up. It was another easy fix, and he was most surprised when he took out his wallet to pay me and I told him to put it away again, but I’m true to my word.
Meanwhile, because I like how that particular gimmick worked, I’m going to try another. If you’re in the Huon Valley and you need my services, quote the magic word “Cecil” to me and I’ll give you a discount on your first hour. Let’s say… 25% off? Will that work? I think so. I happen to know I’m still less expensive that Mr Voy, at least, so you really can’t lose. Because I am not, in case you ever wondered, the IT pickpocket. I’m the bloody IT blacksmith, dammit!