A Big Harry Disappointment
A woman at our bank is a BIG Harry Potter fan. For those of you living in solitary confinement for the last dozen years, here is a brief description from Wikipedia. If you already know about this series of books and movies, skip the next couple of paragraphs. “Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry's struggle against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrow the wizard governing body known as the Ministry of Magic, and subjugate all wizards and Muggles (non-magical people).”
At Hogwarts, a boarding school, students are sorted into houses where they live for the duration of their stay at the school. The sorting process is done by a magical hat, which supposedly can read personalities and determine the best fit for the incoming student. This is a very important decision because the young wizards spend a lot of time with others in their house. There are four houses at Hogwarts; Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin, all named after founders of the school. All four have different personality traits, values and house colors.
In the books, our hero Harry was placed into the Gryfindor house. Most of his nemeses come from the house of Slytherin. Apparently there is a web site where us non-magical people can see which Hogwarts house we would be assigned if we were to go to school there. And that is where we come back to the woman I work with at the bank. As she was looking through Harry Potter items to give as a gift, and trust me there are thousands of items to choose from, she found a candle that would turn the color of the house you belonged in. For $20, she ordered this 4 oz. candle for a friend and one for her. Both were shipped to the bank. She could barely hold back her excitement when the package arrived.
Not wanting to wait until she got home, my coworker wanted to light her candle right away. A lighter or matches was required, but none could be found. She was getting more anxious. Everyone in the bank was asked if they smoked, but nobody does. A lighter was finally found and during lunch, several of us gathered around as she lit the candle, hoping for blue smoke, and praying it wasn’t green.
About a minute into watching nothing unusual happen, I walked away. I checked back 20 minutes later, and the smoke still wasn’t changing color. Disappointment was starting to show on the faces on those watching the candle burn. As small business owners and managers our customers have expectations about our products and customer service. Are you delivering on those expectations? How do you know?
Our customers will tell us indirectly by their buying habits. I suggest a more direct approach by asking them how we can improve. Their answers will surprise you. We not only need to deliver every time, but we need to do better than they expect. If we do, our customers will tell their friends, and our businesses will grow.
Back at the Harry Potter candle, the smoke never did change color. But the wax eventually did change, to green. The disappointment was palatable, but short lived.