Sales Storytelling:  The Connection between Delight and Abu Jandal’s Decision

I am aware you are reading this blog to find out the answer to the question, Why Abu Jandal, Osama bin Laden’s former chief body-guard’s decision to not disclose information to his interrogators changed ? I will get to that  but let us start by creating an important connection between the answer and what we can learn from it.

In my Sales Storytelling Programs I often talk about Delighting Customers but what exactly does Delighting Customers mean? I understood the meaning of delighting customers via Radical Management where organisations shift their goal from making money for shareholders to delighting the customer.

When I first came across the term Delighting Customers, I did not think much about it because it sounded like one of those tired, aspiration filled statements that rarely become reality. As the years have gone by, I have understood and applied Customer Delight to my own Storytelling Practice and the results have been nothing but delightful.

What is Delighting Customers?

Steve Denning explains it like this, The new goal for an organisation must be to Delight the Customer. It’s no longer good enough just to meet customers’ needs, everyone in the organisation needs to focus on ways to delight and excite them by showing that “we want to understand and help you solve your problems”.

No doubt this definition is simple to understand but it is also sounds like common sense. Most of us read it and go, ” that, we do already”. It sounds like advice our parents give which is meaningful but we mostly ignore it.

So, the key here is how do we make it simple and something that we can apply. I found a way to chunk customer delight into 3 things.

Delighting the Customer = Provide a Meaningful, Unexpected and Customised Service.

How did I arrive at this equation? 

Robert Cialdini in his book Pre Suasion : A Revolutionary Way To Influence and Persuade explains a concept that if a gift, favour, or service is meaningful, unexpected and customised, it can become a source for change.

He further explains the concept by using an example of Abu Jandal, Osama bin Laden’s former chief body-guard who was captured and put in a Yemini prison post 9/11. All attempts to get Abu Jandal  to reveal information about Al Qaeda’s leadership had failed. However whilst the interrogation was going on, the interrogators noticed that Abu Jandal didn’t touch any of the cookies offered to him with tea.They later learned that he was a diabetic and couldn’t eat anything with sugar in it.

At their next meeting, the Americans brought him some sugar-free cookies, a gesture that took the edge off Abu Jandal’s angry demeanor.

According to one of the interrogators, that was a key turning point: “We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him, “So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures.” In subsequent sessions, Jandal provided extensive data on Al Qaeda operations, as well as the names of seven of the 9/11 hijackers.

This is a great example of meaningful, unexpected and customised service. The good news is that our customers are not Abu Jandal and if such an act can change him why not our customers?

In Narrative’s Sales Storytelling we have a section on Stories that Delight your Customers. What we have found so far via the stories we hear is that many organisations can tell stories about Satisfying our Customers but Delighting our Customers is rare. However, an understanding of what Delight is, is a strong trigger to creating Customer Delight Stories.

If your Customer Delight Stories are Meaningful, Unexpected and Customised you are indeed delighting your customers.

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