Excerpt: 'The Wisdom of Ginsu'

With regard to customer service, have you noticed how much things have deteriorated? It seems that no one cares about business anymore. People are generally rude and lazy, and try to make you think they are doing you a favor just taking your money. Is that the sound of opportunity knocking? You bet it is, so answer the door! Just do the opposite. Be polite, work hard, and treat people right and you'll be amazed at how quickly your career or business is "fast tracked." We have become so accustomed to bad service that it now shrouds itself as routine. We just don't expect anything more. Is it any wonder that when someone goes above and beyond the call of duty, we just cannot stop talking about him? Has he gone above and beyond? No! Years ago, that was the level of service everyone expected, and got. In the movie "Back to the Future," remember the scene when a car drives up to the Texaco station and four men come out in uniforms to fill the tank, wash the windshield, check the air in the tires, and more? Now that was service!

We have been in a downward slope ever since. Here are a few examples of service and people that Ed and I have dubbed "What the hell were you thinking?"


In the ad business, some salespeople show up late for appointments and don't apologize. They leave money on the table by not understanding the art of negotiation or simply not caring. I've said to many salespeople, "I'm sorry. I can't give you any money on this media buy."

Many have responded with, "Oh, okay, perhaps next time." I can't tell you how many times I just wanted to grab them firmly but gently by the shoulders and say, "Ask me why you didn't get the order, please just ask me why. I want to negotiate. Talk to me. Don't you want to make this sale?"

I remember recently going to my favorite hotel in Disney World. When the taxi pulled up, no one was around to take my bags. I carried my own bags in and asked the person at the registration desk where all the wonderful young and polite bellman had gone.

He replied, "All of the great bellman were promoted to managers and now we can't find anyone to replace them. We have little to pick from now."

No wonder even just "good" customer service stands out so much in the 21st century.

Back to the ad business. Very often, the people who work at these various stations and networks don't even return their phone calls. Sometimes when we are looking to spend money we can't even find the sales rep. It might take two or three calls from us for her to call us back. I was trying to reach a representative once on an urgent matter regarding a radio schedule I had booked with her. Because she was out of the office, in desperation I called her cell phone all day to no avail. When she finally returned my call the next day, I said, "Where have you been? I called your cell phone all day yesterday."

She said, "Oh, I never answer my cell phone."

Oh. I see. What a unique and senseless way to waste money and, at the same time, prevent people from giving you more money. Unfortunately, this is a true story. Now, I don't want to give the ad business a black eye, because the majority of the sales representatives I know are hardworking and conscientious. But a few of them, as I like to say, "Don't get it!" Perhaps they should double click the refresh icon on the way they think!

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