David Harkins

David Harkins

Dr. David L. Harkins is a social scientist researching the human experience in systems and culture. He is an experienced executive coach and consultant, passionate educator, and keynote speaker. Through his teachings, inspiration, and guidance, he helps individuals and organizations identify and connect with their potential to make a meaningful difference in their communities.

The last thing you hear

The automated phone system in the office has six option prompts. That’s not a big number, really. Yet, when we made a small change to the last prompt recently, we noticed a 100% increase in the number of misdirected callers who hit the last prompt–the one before, “If you need to hear these options again, press the number or pound sign.”

Most told us they just punched the last prompt they heard, but 99% of those misdirected callers should have chosen the first prompt they heard. I suppose one way of looking at this is that they customer was interested enough to listen to all the prompts before deciding. I think what truly happens is customers are waiting for a better “fit” with their needs and are responding to the last thing that they hear because they can’t remember what came before.

You do this, don’t you? I certainly do. We are always looking for something that better meets our needs, so we filter information that we don’t believe is relevant at this moment. We say to ourselves, “I don’t need that now. I’ll look for it again, when I do need it.” Things you don’t need never make your radar; the last thing you hear always does–even if it’s not what you need at the time.

For marketers, this is a huge problem. What it means is that we cannot just strive to be first name that comes to mind, we must also be the last name heard.

This is a task more difficult that it sounds.

Accomplishing both means your brand has to be everywhere, or at least seem like you are everywhere your customer. To be sure, it means you have to look for alternative ways of reaching customers. It definitely means you have to go to the customer and stop waiting on them to come to you. You also have to engage in the conversation and make sure your voice is heard. You have to understand your customer better and anticipate their needs to the best of our ability. However, more than anything, this means you have to be where you’re not expected, as well as where you are expected.

Be everywhere. Be relevant. Be unexpected. Any one is good, but achieving all three will help keep your brand both first and last in your customer’s mind. That’s where you want your brand to rest. Nothing between really matters.

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