Friday, February 4, 2011

What One Pen Company Forgot

Members of the Donald Dannheim Family Who Operate a Dairy and Ice Cream Store...There is a business in Smyrna which sells fine writing instruments. The pictures of the store show large jewelry cases of pens that are well out of my price range. Their website has the sensation that it was created sometime in early 2001 or 2002, because the background is black, and it uses quite a lot of the PLR article font. Their focus is on specialty, limited edition and luxury pens.

I called them today to see if they were hiring, because I thought that it would be interesting to be surrounded by my passion. I work at another business right now, in customer service, and I wanted to get a perspective of the job market. The person on the phone told me that there were no positions available and that business was slow. Well, that's not particularly surprising, since very few people want to run out and buy a $100+ pen when they could be purchasing groceries.

Knowing that I wasn't applying for a job, I asked the gentleman who answered the phone why I should get a $50 pen, when my Pilot Precise v5 works well. What's the motivation for someone like me to switch to a fountain pen and learn another form of writing? Even though I own none of these pens, I can come up with a few reasons off the top of my head for purchasing a higher quality writing instrument.

I asked the person whether he used a fountain pen. He replied that he didn't. He also didn't have an adequate answer to why I should purchase a pen from his company. He tried to refer me to someone else at the place, but I refused. I was actually very angry when I got off the phone with him. Maybe I am being too sensitive, but I believe that people who are working at their jobs should have the why's of their business drilled into them from the very beginning.

Somebody working in a business should be well aware of the products that they are selling. They should know the benefits of the product, and be able to talk about their product at length. In the absence of having a face-to-face conversation, that business should have an adequate media campaign which shows their knowledge and expertise. You can see this over and over with companies like Edison Pen and Pear Tree, who have their active Twitter and Facebook campaigns.

The more that I pursue other business opportunities, the more that I realize that I become actively irritated at those who are not customer driven. The individuals at this place that I called lost my business because they could not adequately give me an elevator speech about why I should spend $47 over my $3 Pilot Precise. But it's more than that. I know that I am not unique in my theories about 'how I think a business should run.' I know that there are others out there who feel that every company should give more than lip service to the 'customers are our highest priority' crap.

I've seen so many companies out there who say 'customer service is our priority' and 'we love our customers' and 'you're important to us' but that doesn't mean anything. Honestly, what are they going to say? Customers are just numbers to us? We think that customers are an inconvenience? We believe that there should only be three customers a day in our store and you're number four? Every single interaction with a person who doesn't work for the company should be about giving everything that they can. If you, as a representative of the company, can't tell me why I should bother with your product, you are disappointing both me and your company.

As a business, don't tell me that customer service is your first priority. Show it to me. Demonstrate it to me. I don't know the difference between a Waterman and a Namiki. Demonstrate it to me. I can't justify the cost difference between a Namiki and a Pilot Precise (yes, I know that they're the same company). Tell me the difference. Give me a compelling argument to come to you, and show me that you were working for my needs and I'll always come back. As a customer, if I know that your business has my back, then I'm yours for life.

You know why this is important to me? Because when you wake up with the hangover at the crack of dawn, it's all about people. Single person and small group interaction. It's all about people. I don't buy my insurance from Liberty Mutual, I buy it because Linda works there, and she would never screw me. I don't have an account at Flagstar, I go so that I can feel like a person and see Derek and Sue. To be honest, the business should be making every effort to SHOW you their dedication, not TELL you. So, if I call your company and ask you a question like... why should I buy these products from you? Have an answer ready.


  1. Very nice, and thanks for the mention!

    Give me a ring sometime...I'll be happy to tell you the differences between pens of various prices, and where extra money matters and where it does not.

  2. You're welcome, and thank you for the offer. You really impressed me with your passion and dedication in the videos. Just the intensity that you show, combined with the fact that you know your stuff... it's very obvious that you do your work for love rather than money. When I get into the market, I'm going to buy from you.