When was the last time you learned a business strategy from a fairytale? Have you ever learned a good business strategy from a fairytale? If you have, please share it; if not, Cinderella offers some excellent advice if you know where to look. Let me explain.
Here’s the basic premise: Cinderella’s father dies when she is young and she is forced to live a life of servitude with her jealous stepmother and conceited step-sisters. For years they order Cinderella about making her work to exhaustion. During this servitude, Cinderella avoids growing into a bitter, resentful young woman, because her father taught her to be a loving caring person; so she faces each harrowing day with a smile and constantly seeks the good in others.
Meanwhile, the Prince is dealing with his own hardships. The King and Queen are getting older and are anxious for him to find a wife. In fact, they get so concerned that they decide to throw a ball and invite every eligible maiden in the kingdom and demand that the Prince choose a wife from those that attend.
The day of the ball arrives and Cinderella is kept so busy primping her step-sisters that she is unable to adequately prepare herself. Her sisters and stepmother soon rush out of the house dead-set on the potential to gain riches and a title, while ignoring virtually everything else.
At the dance, the Prince is clearly frustrated by the horde of women throwing themselves at him and yammering on about their various qualities and how they would be so perfect for him. In fact, it gets so bad that the Prince barely pays any attention to them and comes to expect that each new huntress he encounters will be ever more rude and self-absorbed. All he wants is someone he can connect with and with whom he can share meaningful experiences.
Cinderella miraculously finishes getting ready and arrives to the ball unfashionably late. By this time the Prince is clearly dismayed by the lack of caring prospects. Cinderella’s turn to dance with the Prince arrives and instead of throwing herself at him like the rest of the ladies, she demurely talks about the music and the dance, and even goes so far as to ask him about his interests.
Cinderella’s unassuming demeanor surprises the Prince, who was expecting another puffed-up brat. Intrigued, the Prince and Cinderella talk long into the night; that is, until midnight rings signaling her abrupt departure. She runs away leaving the Prince wanting more; the only thing he has left to remember her is one of her glass slippers.
The Prince so enjoyed his time with Cinderella that he travels the entire kingdom looking for the girl who fits the glass slipper.
The Prince finds Cinderella and, as a direct result of the unexpected kindness she showed the Prince, they get married and live happily ever after.
So where’s the lesson here?
The Prince was forced into a situation he didn’t want to be in, much like your customers that call the office every day. After all, who wants to take time out of their day for a clogged drain or a broken heat exchanger? Here in lies the take away from the fairy-tale.
Because of the Prince’s situation, the women of the kingdom were positioned so that they could prey on the Prince – he was trying to fill a need. The more he interacted with the selfish women, the more his need was ignored and the more frustrated he became. The women were too focused on what they had to gain.
Many of your competitors may share this same mindset. They know the people calling them have a need and they are more focused on their gain than meeting the customer’s need. Therefore they don’t treat the customer as well as they could, and the customer may end up frustrated with the lack of attention. This is not a good way to run a service business; instead, take the time to really find out your customers’ needs. Listen to them, ask questions about them and their situation, seek first to understand them, then help address their issue – it worked pretty well for Cinderella.
As for Cinderella, when it came time for her to try and fill the Prince’s need, she far exceeded his expectations. The frustrated Prince thought she would treat him just like all the other women had, but instead she went out of her way to do something different, something he wanted. Cinderella acted differently than her competition and as a result lived happily ever after.
Just like the Prince had expectations based on his previous experiences, your customers come to you with preconceived notions based on their previous experiences. Your job is to exceed those expectations so that your customers will go so far as to “roam the kingdom” looking for you. And just like it worked for Cinderella, listening attentively, asking questions and then exceeding expectations will allow you and your company to live happily ever after.