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Creating the Accidental Evangelist

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Phil doesn't really care about American Express. Why should he care? I mean, it's just a credit card, after all. Sure, it's got a few benefits and features and stuff that other credit cards don't have, but that's not enough to make Phil yodel about American Express.

Yet, recently, Phil's been yodeling. Suddenly, Phil's become what you'd call an accidental evangelist. In fact, he talks more about American Express than he'd like to admit.

It all started when Phil moved home. Early in June, Phil moved. And, like we all do when we move, Phil informed everyone (including AmEx) that it needed to change his home address.

What happened next surprised the heck out of Phil. In his mailbox sat a voucher for $50. Congratulations on your new home, said the note from AmEx. Now tell me, wouldn't you be smiling from ear to ear if you got a housewarming gift before your boxes were unpacked.

AmEx isn't alone. There's a hotel that engages its customers as they walk through the lobby, en route to their rooms.


But one such customer wasn't exactly cheerful on arrival. She seemed upset. Hassled, even. So the receptionist asked the customer what was wrong. "I've had a hideous day. The flight was delayed. I had to cancel my appointments and it's the end of the day, and nothing's achieved."

Ten minutes later, this very customer was smiling. What happened? As she checked into her room, sighing, her eyes fell on a box of chocolates and a little note. The note said, "We're sorry you had such a rotten day. We hope this box of chocolates will cheer you up. Compliments of..."

Poof! It's the accidental evangelist

Yeah, yeah, I know. You don't run a hotel. And you don't own a credit card company. And the options for you to create evangelists, accidental or not, are few and far in between.

OK, so tell me another one. Because you've not been listening. As in paying attention to your customers—because customers are sure telling you really important stuff all the time.

"Hi Jody," they say, "Can we reschedule our meeting, as I can't make it today. My son is ill and needs to be taken to the doctor." Or "Hi, Mark," they say, "It's my birthday next week, and my wife is taking me out to lunch, so...."

Have the lights gone on in your head yet? You've had dozens of reasons, and seasons, to create the accidental evangelist. And, yes, you can play Santa in July, if only you'd listen.

Every company out there fails to listen

But people do. Companies send silly greeting cards at Christmas time. People listen and act on specific situations. And when they (as in you and me) act, the customer is startled, bemused, surprised, excited and suddenly there's a smile on the customer's face.

It's warm. It's radiant. It's the kind of smile that could un-chill a freezing winter's night.

Stand back and enjoy the glow. You've just created the accidental evangelist.


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Sean D'Souza uses age-old psychology, marrying it to modern technology, on his Web site, psychotactics.com. Can "psychological tactics" make a difference? Go there and find out.

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