Steve Yastrow
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Don't finish anything

My wife's uncle, Charles Edelson, known to us as Uncle Chuckie, is an artist living in Israel. This is one of his sculptures, Isaiah's Prophecy of Peace:

Chuckie and Aunt Ida tried living on a kibbutz (collective community) in the early '50's, but elected to move to a moshav (cooperative community of individual farms) so Chuckie would be more free to pursue his art. (The kibbutz said he could do his art ... but only on Tuesdays)

Chuckie and I had a number of deep conversations while I was writing my new book, We: The Ideal Customer Relationship. One night we were talking about the creative process. "Don't finish anything," Chuckie said, in his understated voice. I took another olive and waited for him to continue. I was about to say, "Nu?" when he spoke. "Be sure to leave something incomplete at the end of each writing session. Getting started tomorrow is hard. Have something waiting for you when you come back."

As he said this, I pictured many of his pieces of art in my mind ... the sculpture garden at his house, the holocaust memorial fountain that cries tears as it runs, Isaiah's Prophecy of Peace shown above, and the woodcut series in my upstairs hallway. I imagined all of these, at various stages of completion, waiting overnight in Chuckie's studio as he and Ida ate dinner with their grandchildren or as he listened to music in his house. I imagined him returning in the morning, after picking peaches or tending to his turkeys, and slipping right into work on a piece, picking up right where he left off, attending to a detail that had sat overnight, incomplete, as the moon moved across the sky and sank into the Mediterranean.

Chuckie's advice helped me immensely with the creative process for both writing prose and writing music. But it has also helped me understand more about creating ongoing, relationship-building conversations with customers.

An ongoing conversation with a customer is like a work of art. It develops over time, and, as it evolves, its message and meaning become more clear, more compelling and more unique. But it is difficult to start a conversation. It is much easier to maintain a conversation. My mindset with customers is not, "We talked about this last week and we will talk about that next week."

My mindset, when I think about conversations with customers, is, "We are talking about this." I have better conversations with customers when I am aware of each conversation as a continuous, unbroken stream. We are, at all times, in the middle of one or more conversations. My interest is in making them robust, continuous conversations.

So, I have decided to take Uncle Chuckie's advice. Yes, I want to end a conversation session with a customer on a "high note." But I don't want to really end the conversation. I want to be able to pick it up, right where we left off, when we next speak with each other. Tomorrow, when I wrap up a conversation with a customer, I'm going to be extra careful not to finish the conversation. I want something waiting for us when we next talk with each other.

Thanks, Uncle Chuckie.

Take Notice

When you are a customer, do companies try to create ongoing conversations with you? Are they able to pick up the dialogue with you where it last left off? Or, are they forced to start a brand new conversation with you each time you meet?

How do you compare?

Are you able to pick up conversations with customers, seamlessly, from one encounter to the next? Is there a continuity, between conversations, or are you forced to look for ways to restart the dialogue?

Try this

As you wrap up conversations with customers over the next week, try not wrapping them up. Look for conversational details that you can leave open, and refer to in your next meeting, that will help your next conversation get started easily.

And remember, don't finish anything!
Steve Yastrow
P 847-686-0400

Steve Yastrow

Steve Yastrow

Steve Yastrow

Click to buy Steve's new book, We: The Ideal Customer Relationship

In We, you will learn:
How to create relationship-building encounters, instead of relationship-eroding transactions
How to connect multiple customer encounters into an ongoing conversation that creates a strong We relationship
The power of We among many-- a relationship between many people in your organization and your customers

We is both a manifesto and a how-to guide that will change the way you interact with customers ... and change the way your customers think about you.  

Steve Yastrow

Click to download your free ebook, Encounters: The Building Blocks of We Relationships

Learn more about Steve's other great book...

Steve Yastrow
Steve Yastrow
Steve Yastrow

© 2008 Steve Yastrow. All rights reserved.

Steve Yastrow