Service With A Smile


Today has shown me why US business, and usually Californian business cleans up in tech.

Case Study 1 – in a bar, in a non-descript mall in San Bruno. On way to rest room (well, beer has to go somewhere), I meet a rack server clogging the hall with a rats nest of cables and hand drawn signage. Normally, not something you find in the ‘John’. However, I was curious, so I stopped to ask the guy with his macbook plugged in ‘WTF?’, and he explained how this was driving the HUGE (I mean HUGE HUGE) TV above the bar showing sports channels. 6 satellite channel receivers, an MTX unit, touch screen controls, video drivers and controller software. Just to show sports. In a bar.

Here is why Wulf Bieschke and his team at deserve to kick-ass and win in their sector:

1 – they spotted a niche: US bars contain men who like sport and who wish they could see all the channels instead of just the one their wife allows them to subscribe 2

2 – their product definitely WORKS

3 – they treat everyone as a potential customer, even a bloke on his way to the restroom, and are polite, informative, funny, and professional

4 – they add something special – in their case, simple as can be controller software

5 – they add SERVICE

6 – they test and retest their product in the field, in real deployments

Round of applause!

Case Study 2 – airport shopping, and I see a pair of headphones from Klipsch. Klipsh? Makers of insane custom loudspeakers, making a tiny earbud? I am intrigued, so I go in to chat to the nice lady at INMOTION Entertainment. Now, bear in mind, she sees 20,000 people a day, all of whom are in ‘travel fugue’ mode. And, in 10 seconds, she not only correctly diagnoses that I am an audiophile freakoid, but that she has headphones (Shure 530) that are way better than the ones I am using (Sennheiser IE8), but she can explain why, knows exactly what is inside both my headphones and the one she wants to sell, and is prepared to put her pair up for a back to back listening test.

She wins – her recommendation sounds AMAZINGLY GOOD. Sadly, I lack $500 today, but, man-o-man was I tempted. Then Sean (I promised I would mention him), the manager offers to throw in the stack of audio CD’s I just paid as a sweetener.

Think that through:

1 – they know, and can identify their customer type
2 – they KNOW their products]
3 – they want to do a deal
4 – they are funny, fast and really sharp
5 – they got their location spot on

Great team, great product choice, and really good at selling

I hope they stock the  Mark Houston portable valve amp or the Graham Slee portable headphone amp, so I can spend $1000 when I pass through next time!

If your start-up is not as passionate, knowledgeable and plain old fun – at the point where your team meets customers – then come over to Silicon Valley and see how they do it. You never know, you might learn something important before you buy too much stuff to fly home with 🙂