I read the strangest things! Right now, I am finishing a short book by P.T. Barnum entitled “The Art of Money Getting: Golden Rules for Making Money.” I wasn’t attracted to the book because I need to make money (on that front I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination), I picked it up because I thought “the greatest showman on earth” and the first show business millionaire might have some insights on creating “craveable” (albeit spectacular) customer experiences.
Now to put the rest of this blog in perspective, you have to realize that P.T. Barnum was born just over 200 years ago in 1810 and wrote The Art of Money Getting when he was 70. The book looks back at lessons Barnum learned about achieving success and significance. What is striking about the book is its timelessness. I dare say it relevant to customer experience challenges of today. For example, take this excerpt from Barnum’s chapter entitled Be Polite and Kind to Your Customers:
“Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly. The truth is, the more kind and liberal a man is, the more generous will be the patronage bestowed upon him. “Like begets like.” The man who gives the greatest amount of goods of a corresponding quality for the least sum (still reserving for himself a profit) will generally succeed best in the long run. This brings us to the golden rule, “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them,” and they will do better by you than if you always treated them as if you wanted to get the most you could out of them for the least return. Men who drive sharp bargains with their customers, acting as if they never expected to see them again, will not be mistaken. They will never see them again as customers. People don’t like to pay and get kicked also.”
I love looking back at the writings of business icon’s like Barnum because they often help me see that technologies will change but underlying human service needs are stable across time. Is it fair to say in 2011, that women and “men who drive sharp bargains with their customers, acting as if they never expected to see them again, will not be mistaken?”
What are you reading and will those writings stand-up to scrutiny in a couple of centuries?