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ADmissions | 20th Century Service

True tales of an Arkansan adman

By Frank Cox, Jr.

The service culture in business that I grew up in seems to have been left in the 20th Century. I suppose many young people don’t miss it that much since they’ve grown up in a different world. But I really miss those days when people in business would go above and beyond to take care of their customers or clients.


Years ago, local ad exec and my boss at the time, Wayne Cranford, and I spoke a lot about becoming indispensable to our clients. Being indispensable necessarily means being anticipatory, not simply reactionary. Anticipating a client’s need and providing solutions even before that need is fully realized by the client wins a gold star every time. Put another way, it results in delivering value that exceeds expectations.


The opposite of being indispensable is simply being an order taker. Throughout my career, I ran across many order takers and I quickly learned that order takers can be replaced in a heartbeat. Usually, they were replaced either by motivated people who desired to become indispensable to their clients, or by other order takers who also didn’t stay around very long.



Fast forward to today and this notion of becoming indispensable represents a real opportunity for people who want to get ahead. Why? Sadly, the number of people who will go the extra mile seems to have decreased, generally speaking. But the good news, for those who care, is that the competition for providing excellent service isn’t as tough as it used to be.


So, I can talk the talk but do I walk the walk? Honestly, I can say mostly but not always. When I get lazy, or procrastinate, or temporarily lose my natural curiosity and desire to please others, (you may call these character defects, if you like), then I pay a price. Believe me, anxiety and paranoia aren’t comfortable ways to feel. I haven’t lost many clients over the years due to these reasons but I lost one many years ago and a pretty big one, at that. Hopefully, I’ll never forget that lesson.


If you’re indispensable to your clients or customers, then you’re (almost) impossible to replace. If you haven’t made yourself indispensable, then someone else may be circling above, ready to swoop in and take that business away from you. It happens all the time but it doesn’t have to happen to you. So don’t let it.


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