A Listening Lesson

Peter Shankman's Morton's Tweet #1

Well Done is Better than Well Said

Steaks are better medium-rare, but Ben Franklin’s old adage certainly applies to a great marketing and customer service story about Morton’s Steak House. Peter Shankman, a New York based marketing and media consultant was hungry. He was on the runway at Tampa, FL on the return leg of a long day trip and sent the tweet you see above to his favorite steakhouse. The message was meant as a joke, one of those short messages you see on Twitter that’s just meant to be entertaining.

 

The Morton’s in Hackensack, NJ saw it as an opportunity. When Shankman arrived in Newark, he was met by a smartly dressed young man with a Morton’s bag, delivering not just the Porterhouse, but a complete meal. Shankman was overwhelmed, and didn’t hesitate to tell the story of how Morton’s had created an “amazing moment.”  Here’s his next tweet:

 

Peter Shankman's Mortons Tweet #2

 

Morton’s is noted for exceptional service to their customers, but Peter Shankman’s story was certainly beyond the pale. It paid off for the company, though. Shankman’s Twitter exchange was voted one of the top 10 tweets of 2011, out of more than 160 billion tweets sent that year.

The point is clear – Morton’s was listening, and responded in a very proactive way.

Takeaways for HR

The Morton’s story is about marketing (and excellent customer service), but there are some great takeaways for HR, too. The idea that there are connections between marketing strategies and HR strategies is beginning to dawn on both communities. On the marketing side, new age guru Seth Godin has chimed in, suggesting that it’s time Human Resources abandons it’s “forms/clerical/factory” focus. His idea is simple . . . it’s the people that count.

On the HR side, there’s an ongoing discussion of “employment branding,” essentially the idea that company reputation counts when it comes to recruiting and keeping the best employees.

From the marketer’s perspective, those connections seem like good common sense, but there’s another aspect that’s not often considered – both marketers and human resource managers are playing on a changing field.  A recent Adobe survey of marketers found that 76% agreed that marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the previous 50.  Today’s customers research first before making a buying decision and they’re less likely to believe a sales message or want to interact with a salesperson. New age marketers are making a shift to inbound marketing techniques that engage directly with customers, provide objective information and seek to build relationships and trust.

Recruiters and HR professionals are seeing a similar shift in attitude, especially with the Millennial generation. Millennials seek to be engaged and they want to be heard. They want to understand the story and be part of a cause. Traditional, callous recruiting tactics can offend this group and may even damage the company brand.

Back to the steak. What did Morton’s accomplish with their delivery?

  1. They showed that they were listening – even to an offhand comment.
  2. They responded in a very intelligent and daring way, making a great point about their customer focus.
  3. They showed a lot of organizational character – Morton’s employees were allowed to make this kind of decision. It didn’t have to go up the chain for approval.

Most importantly, they hit the ball out of the park in terms of brand awareness and image. The story went viral and it’s still being shared today.

Lessons?

So here’s the obvious question: How do you apply the Morton’s story to the Human Resources department in a typical U.S. company? Morton’s was listening. They had empowered their employees to be creative. They responded very well to an unusual opportunity. The result was an immeasurable increase in goodwill toward the company – all for the cost of a steak dinner. Well done.

 

is owner of DP Marketing Services and works with Georgia Employers’ Association on a range of projects. He writes regularly on marketing topics and posts occasionally on the GEA blog.

 

By | 2014-06-17T09:39:22+00:00 June 9th, 2014|GEA Blog|Comments Off on A Listening Lesson
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