Customer service is an important part of any business. Marketing is no different. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, which is why I read a lot of business books on topics that include superior customer service and ask a lot of questions.

My latest read is a book called The Rules of Woo by Cindy Solomon. I thought the following excerpt is an especially interesting look at how many companies treat their prospects and customers. What do you think of the following?

A man dies and finds himself at the pearly gates. The guard at the gate is holding a clipboard checking in people as they arrive. The guard looks up and smiles as he sees the new gentleman in line. He says, “You are so lucky that you died today! There’s a special we’re offering today only!”

Really?” says the man.

“Yeah, you get to choose whether you want to go to Heaven or Hell.”

The man asks, “How will I know which to choose?”

The guard quickly responds, “Not to worry! We let you stay a day in each place so you can make an informed decision about where you want to spend all eternity.”

The man says, “Okay. I think I’d like to go to Hell first.”

The guard smiles and motions him into an elevator directly behind him. “Great! Down you go!”

The doors open up onto a white sandy beach. People are playing in the surf, drinking drinks with little umbrellas, and dancing to a Calypso band. It’s absolutely… well, Heaven! The man spends an enjoyable day, comes back up, steps out of the elevator and says, “That was wonderful! I can’t wait to see what Heaven is like!”

Back into the elevator and up he goes! The doors open on white fluffy clouds, harp music and lots of smiling happy people. It’s very nice but not really very exciting. After his day, the man goes back down in the elevator and says to the guard, “I can’t believe I am going to say this but … I’d like to go to Hell please.” The guard says no problem and on the man goes.

This time when the doors open, instead of seeing the beach and Calypso band he’s greeted by people running, screaming, fire, and brimstone. He stands there … dumbfounded. The Devil comes up to him and barks, “What’s your problem? Get in here!” And the man responds, stuttering, “There must be some mistake! I was here yesterday! There was a beach and drinks with little umbrellas! What happened?!”

The Devil responds, “We get this all the time. Yesterday you were a prospect. Today you’re a customer!”

Do you or have you ever treated customers like this? What could you do to improve your relationship with customers? I think if we’d treat each customer like a close friend, much of the problems would be cleared up but that probably doesn’t solve all problems. Other things for us all to consider are clear communication and a desire to truly work together with each other.

Do you have other tips for superior customer service? What is the #1 thing that makes a difference in your job when it comes to customer service?

*Work Cited:

Solomon, Cindy. The Rules of Woo. San Francisco: OPR Publishers, 2010.