Lessons from a 6-year-old

I believe my son is an average 6-year-old. He likes Star Wars, Transformers, Wii and sports. When we moved to Norman, Okla., he saw the OU football poster and wanted one. So up one went on his wall! Then he wondered if he could get posters from the teams OU was playing. And thus, the quest began!

Because the DMOs in the cities of the Big 12 have a strong relationship I was able to drop the other eleven a line and make the request. As some went unfulfilled, I started contacting the universities’ athletic departments myself. The result is 25 posters – and counting – covering all sports in 8 universities! And daddy has one interesting lesson in customer service – April’s Five @ 5:

I received one of five different responses from the universities. They are the “cold shoulder”, “play by the rules”, “absurdity”, “just do it” and “above and beyond.”

1. Cold Shoulder – it was interesting that I didn’t get even a simple return email from two of the universities. I realize they’re busy, but really, how hard is it for some graduate assistant or secretary to click reply and type “I’m sorry but we simply can’t fulfill your request.” I would have understood that reply. I don’t understand being completely ignored!

2. Play by the Rules – I get that the NCAA has more rules than the US Government, but to receive a one page email explaining all the rules bewildered me! KISS! “The way we interpret the NCAA rules do not allow us to fulfill your request.” Simple enough. I’ll buy that. If you have a rule restricting a potential visitor’s request, don’t go into details or attach the policy, just simply explain – or break it!

3. Absurdity – one university’s email reply stated they’d be happy to send us a poster if we’d send them a check for $10.00 to cover postage and handling. Really!? You didn’t think I’d check other packages to see what the postage ran to see how much you’re pocketing? Is your athletic department that broke? I’d revisit any policy like that that borders on absurdity. Think like your customer! (Oh, and when I questioned them on it, I got #1. I didn’t like that university anyways!)

4. Just Do It – with proper credit to Nike… You can probably guess – they just rolled up a poster or two and mailed ’em! (At a much lower cost of postage than $10.00 I might add!)

5. Above and Beyond – the only university I’ll name is Colorado if only to give them proper credit! They went above and beyond in that they sent two posters, a bumper sticker and schedules. Yeah, we’re probably not going to Boulder from Norman to any games, but they didn’t know that! It was a very nice surprise!

How are our responses in comparison to these? I’m reminded of a break-out session at a tourism conference one time. The title of the session said/says it all – “Yes is the answer! Now what’s the question?”

Share more with you next month!

(Originally posted April 2010)

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