Monday, March 29, 2010

False Hustle Is Bad Customer Service

Years ago I interviewed the legendary Red Auerbach, the godfather of the Boston Celtics, about what made his team so remarkable.

One of the key things that stuck with me was the notion of "false hustle": Auerbach said the Celtics players didn't try to fool him by faking like they were hustling. They gave every game, every play their all, knowing that Red could tell the difference between the real thing and false hustle.

Today, thanks in part to the web and techno-marketing, thanks in part to lead generation software, thanks in part to the phony vocabulary of "customer delight", most of us get treated every day to false hustle from company after company. False hustle comes in the mail in the form of oh-so-concerned customer solicitation letters from our bank, our mobile phone carrier, our health insurance company. Thanks to data mining, they can fake it with the best of them; they can even send you a card on your birthday, while jacking up the rate on your credit card.

When I walk into my dry cleaner here in Santa Fe, Barbara calls me by my first name. She jokes with me about my car, and when I can put the top down. And she counts my shirts and promises to have them back by 5 the next day. When I get my morning paper and first cup of joe at the locally owned magazine stand/coffee shop, I get a personal greeting from the guy behind the counter. He gives me his best Jersey accent, and tells me a joke.

That's not false hustle. That's not even a hustle. That's a genuine customer interaction. That's how more and more of us need to pick our stores, our shops, our vendors.

It's not just about the convenience of the web, which all too often masks false hustle.

It's about giving it your best, every play of every game.

Don't reward false hustle, don't give it your business. Red Auerbach never would; why should you.

All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb