customer experience

The MAN VAN™ Nails It

by Vicki on March 28, 2014

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I ventured down to the BMO Centre to the Calgary International Auto and Truck Show. While wandering through the rows of new trucks and cars, we spotted a brilliant public health initiative that I knew I’d need to blog about. What was the health initiative that inspired me?


What is the MAN VAN™?

The MAN VAN™ is a mobile unit operated by the Prostate Cancer Centre.  Its purpose is to increase awareness of the importance of early detection of prostate cancer.  On scheduled dates it offers on-the-spot baseline PSA testing at a variety of locations.

……Through our “GET CHECKED” program, our professional staff travel with the MAN VAN™ to convenient locations to offer free PSA testing to men over 40. No appointment is necessary. In addition, employers can book the van to visit their offices and test employees on site.

The PSA test is a simple blood test that helps in the early detection of prostate cancer. PSA or Prostate Specific Antigen is a substance produced by the prostate and released in small amounts to the bloodstream. The amount of PSA in the bloodstream can often predict a man’s risk of prostate cancer. We provide free and confidential baseline PSA tests in the comfort of a motor home. The MAN VAN is equipped with comfy leather seats and a flat-screen TV to create an environment where men can relax while taking charge of their health.

Although I think their description of their service offering is OK, I don’t think it truly captures the brilliance of what I saw in person as I waited for my husband to make his trip through the MAN VAN™.

What did I see? I saw one man after another signing up to be tested for prostate cancer. Consistently and persistently.

And I can truthfully say that had you asked me to predict beforehand if the MAN VAN™ would have had much “business” at a car show on a Sunday afternoon, my prediction would have been dead wrong – what man wants to take time out at a car show to think about their personal likelihood for prostate cancer??

Here is why I think the application of their initiative is so brilliant:

  • The MAN VAN™ was positioned as just another exhibit. You didn’t have to go anywhere out of the ordinary to get to it, you had to walk by if you chose to visit the show row by row.
  • Their service offering was clearly stated on the van and around the exhibit
  • Seated outside the van was an older gentleman. His role was key. He continuously scanned the faces of the men walking by, looking for men that appeared to him to be 40+. When he spotted men who looked to be “of age”, he singled them out – pointing to them and calling out to them. Once he had their attention, he offered the services of the van. If they declined, he asked about the last time they had been tested. He was persistent and very direct, but in a calm and non-confrontational way. It was clear that this man was on a mission – their literature indicates that greeters often have personal experience with prostate cancer.
  • Any men that were 40+ who were open to being tested were quickly seated and expertly walked through a consent form. The greeter made completion so easy.
  • Following consent, men were seated in the motor home until it was their turn to have their blood drawn. At times, the number of men waiting to have their blood drawn was greater than the motor home could accommodate. The extra men sat or stood outside the van waiting for their turn.
  • The blood draw was quick and pain free (according to my husband)
  • If your PSA levels are good, the results are mailed to your home in about a day
  • If your levels require follow up, a health care professional will follow up with you via phone

Public health professionals have an uphill battle when it comes to getting people to adopt and maintain new health behaviors.

But despite the odds, the MAN VAN™ has it nailed – location, clarity of offering, champion of the cause, simplicity and speed of process. Inspiring!


Too Much got the Gimmies

by Trudy on January 17, 2014

I observed something over the holidays. Some a little too up close and personal.

This past holiday it seems that there were too many organizations suffering from the gimmies, otherwise known as greed, or making hay. Or at least that is certainly how it appears.

What do I mean?

I ordered my personal Christmas cards in early December, paid extra for rush shipping to ensure I had them in plenty of time, and they ended up being delivered on January 4th! (Sure made the ho ho ho message seem rather passé!). It seems this company was exulting so much in their prosperity this holiday season that they watched as it kept it coming in, forgetting that they would have to fulfill their sales too.

I experienced being bumped from an airplane for showing up 56 minutes BEFORE the flight left because I missed the closing cut off. They gave my and my family’s seats away to some of the MANY people they had overbooked on the flight. To get on a flight sooner than 5 days away I had to pay AGAIN for my tickets. Personally, this felt a lot like extortion vs. greed, but definitely a company making hay when the snow was falling.

Then the UPS shipping situation occurred, where they were unable to meet the demand for shipping over the holidays leaving sad faces all around on Christmas day. The growing online sales opportunity completely overwhelmed the UPS system. Again, just keep taking in the packages, let the revenues explode, and we will figure it out somehow did not seem to work as a strategy. I expect that UPS will now learn how to read its own capacity better, and create systems that allows it to scale up to meet the capacity or manage delivery date expectations at the engagement point.

A favourite family tradition of participating in a gingerbread-making event was unusually disappointing because they ran out of supplies because it was so “popular” this year. Now this one is a really bad case of the gimmies, because you had to book in advance, so they knew how much they would need for supplies.

Friends came for a visit on New Year’s Eve, arrived at the car rental location to get their car, that had been booked long ago, and they had to wait 3.5 hours to get a car. Why? Because they overbooked! And not only that, they were letting people walk up with NO reservation and get cars too. This is the most egregious case of the gimmees, a slap in the face to the bird they had in their hand (aka the customer with the reservation).

I have pondered this at great length. I have wondered, what the heck is going on here in business today?

Ultimately what it comes down to is that each of these organizations chose to take on more than they could handle, and they did this at great inconvenience and cost to customers.

And do you know who else pays in this situation? They do.

They made a conscious decision to follow the money, when what they really should have followed was the relationship. The cost of ATTEMPTING to repair a relationship is very expensive.

The level of ill will that is created through these actions does not sit well with the people who give them business, or at least have given them business in the past. I am certain many will rethink their choices going forward, I certainly will.


Being Genuine

by Vicki on April 5, 2013

Last week, I had an interaction with a company that left a bad taste in my mouth. Their product was good but the manner in which they conducted their business was distasteful – at least to me. Their product is subscription based and I noticed they had renewed the subscription automatically on my credit card. I contacted their customer service and was told that when I signed up I agreed to automatic renewals. This part was true and it was my fault for not reading the documentation more closely. But the part of their response that didn’t sit right with me was the amount of explanation in the email justifying their practices. It was technically correct, but it just felt dishonest. The real intent of their practice was to maximize sales, not to protect their customers and their explanations to convince me otherwise fell on deaf ears.

Fast forward a couple days and I was in the midst of doing a yoga session. The class was online, it was free, and the instruction was impeccable. The problem was that the more of the class I did, the more irritated I felt. Maybe it was the difficulty of the class, maybe I was in a funk…..but after some thought, I realized it also had something to do with the approach of the instructor. Her class was full of great poses and really good flow but her comments were trite and the impression I was left with was that she was not enjoying the session one bit.

These experiences left me thinking about the idea of being genuine in our interactions and how not being genuine can have immediate and lasting negative repercussions for how we are perceived.

According to

gen·u·ine [jen-yoo-in]


1.possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real: genuine sympathy; a genuine antique.

2. properly so called: a genuine case of smallpox. from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy; sincere: a genuine person.

4.descended from the original stock; pure in breed: a genuine Celtic people.

In the last decade “genuine” has become something of a buzzword. But I think there is more to the concept than just being the word of the day. I think our ability to detect whether or not someone or something is genuine is a fascinating and truly practical skill that humans have developed.

Think back to a time when you knew someone was BSing you……can you easily pinpoint how you knew they were not being genuine? My guess is not. Figuring out why a person or interaction is not genuine seems on the surface to involve both verbal and non-verbal subtle cues. Somehow we “just know” something doesn’t add up.

For my next post, I’m going to spend a bit of time looking into the concept of being genuine – I’ll report back on what the current literature has to say about the concept as well as how current thinking on “genuine-ness” can help us with our relationships and communications both in our business and personal lives.


Short, Sweet and Relevant Research

November 30, 2012

As many of you know, PROVOKE is often brought in to organizations to explore qualitatively (through talking to people) and/or quantitatively (using descriptive statistics) what is going on. Because of this, I’m always looking at any kind of survey I’m asked to participate in through an especially critical lens. A couple times in the last […]

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The Bigger Picture

September 21, 2012

I get cell phone provider contracts – I really do. They provide a guarantee to the providers that they will be reimbursed the cost of expensive phones sold to consumers at discounted rates. But based on my experience, they are used as more than a way to recoup money lost on providing clients with the […]

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