Are You a Member Of A Friendly Zoo? | TravelResearchOnline


Are You a Member Of A Friendly Zoo?

A recent experience reminded me of the concept of the “friendly zoo” as it relates to customer service. I will try to make my story meaningful to you.

I once purchased some electronic equipment from a reputable mail-order outfit in the Midwest. The buying experience went without hitch and I was more than pleased with the product when it arrived.

Fast forward ten or more years. I answered the phone and was greeted by a representative of the aforementioned company with a courtesy call. I politely thanked the salesman and informed him I was not a good prospect as I did not buy microphones more than once in my lifetime. We did in fact have a very nice conversation for about 6-8 minutes.

Two weeks passed when I found myself in need of a different piece of equipment. I tracked down the same salesman and placed the order as if I was speaking to an old friend. He was very thorough but, just before I hung up, I asked what I thought at the time was a dumb question. “Does the keyboard come with an electrical plug?” He said, “I will double check but I will be amazed if it didn’t.”

That turned out to be a great question because I then had to order an electrical plug to operate my newly purchased gizmo. I placed the second order and hung up still feeling good. “What are you going to do?”

Two days later I checked my tracking number and saw they were sending my item to the wrong address. I immediately called and spoke to another pleasant gentleman who said “these things happen” and we will fix it at once.

My next phone call came from FedEx informing me they could not deliver my package (to the wrong location) since it required a signature. (The problem was not fixed as stated earlier.)

To complicate things, the plug was being delivered by US Mail and was also sent to the wrong address.

I called my sales rep and he immediately offered to send me a second plug at his expense due to his error. Ten seconds later the confirmation arrived via email and I saw the second plug was still being sent to the wrong address.

I called again and we finally got things straightened out…I think.

At the time of this writing I have received two plugs, but the main gizmo is somewhere between Syracuse, New York and Delray Beach, Florida.

Thanks for listening and I hope you are still following the trail of events.

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Today’s message is two fold:

(1) Being customer-friendly is very important. Making good on your mistakes is also very important. Perhaps of greater importance is being good at what you do to avoid having to do what you do again and sometimes…even again.

As consumers, we appreciate friendliness. But our time is valuable, and in most cases we don’t have the time or the patience to witness your learning curve up close and personal.

The “friendly zoo” is a term I use to define companies who have great intentions, impeccable people skills, and presumably good products but are not very good at what they do.

Learn your business. Avoid zoo membership.

(2) I received a friendly sales call ten years after my initial purchase. This placed the company back on top of mind which resulted in a sale.

How many of these types call are you in position to make? You virtually have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Mike Marchev

Mike Marchev freely shares his experiences, strategies and observations with travel professionals in an effort to keep them on top of their game. For a complimentary copy of his 12-Word Marketing Plan send him an email at

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