“I’m Winston Wolf, I solve problems.”
This is one of my favorite lines and scenes from Pulp Fiction.
Winston Wolf (“The Wolf”) is brought in because he’s a pro. Because he’s fast. Because he delivers for his customer.
Marsellus Wallace hires The Wolf because he has no doubt he’ll take care of the problem.
Do your customers call you because they have no doubt you’ll solve their problems?
Summon your wolf and customers will love you
Customers only continue doing business with us when we continue to solve their problems.
When we solve a complex problem for our customers we deliver value. And if it’s enough value, delivered again and again over a period of time, our company value increases.
Although an unconventional example, The Wolf shows us three specific ways to approach customer problems:
1. Be a professional
The Wolf is an expert at what he does and is confident. He walks in and has a clear, narrow description of what he does. He solves problems. He also acts professionally toward the ultimate customer (Jimmie, played by Quentin Tarantino) and is respectful in his home.
We must deliver a superior product or service if we want customers to continue to call us. It’s can’t be ok, it must be the best. The customer must believe she has received more value than she paid.
We also have to deliver it in a way which satisfies our customers. This includes packaging and the way we treat our customers.
2. Have a sense of urgency
When The Wolf is called, he’s on location in under 10 minutes. He’s quick to assess a complicated problem and recommends a solution that will work in the time required.
We’ve come to expect same-day dry cleaning. We want our food within a very short window of ordering it. We want our cars fixed yesterday. Several retailers are now tackling same-day delivery. Our customers expect this same sense of urgency from our product or service and we’ll have to deliver if we want them to return.
As our organizations get bigger this gets harder. One way to combat this is to keep thinking like a startup.
3. Keep the customer hierarchy in perspective
In the Pulp Fiction scene Jimmie is the ultimate customer because he is the person with the real problem. The Wolf knows this and remains calm with Jimmie. He barks at Vincent and Jules (despite their having a part in hiring The Wolf) when they lose sight of the urgency of the problem.
If you are in the business-to-business space, often your product or service ultimately helps your customer solve problems with or for her customer. If you’re selling direct to consumers there are still instances where your product helps a person help someone else.
If we are truly helping our customers solve problems, we’ll work hard to identify this hierarchy and maintain focus on it when it exists.
Encourage and train your team to do the same
It’s the job of a leader to take it one step further than The Wolf. We can’t be involved in every customer interaction, so we must trust the rest of our team to deliver.
Not every member of our teams will be a natural problem solver, so we’ll need to help them along. But regardless of whether a team member is in sales, engineering, customer service, or leadership, she is involved in solving customer problems.
How can you help those around you solve problems like The Wolf? Please feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to read your thoughts.
Check out the rest of the Leadership 101 series.