Chapter 10. Real-Time Customer Connection

My friend Justin Locke tells a great story about connecting with customers. Locke is author of Real Men Don't Rehearse, a hysterical memoir of his years as a bassist with the Boston Pops Orchestra. I'll let Justin tell it in his own words:

In the first two or three summers of concerts, the politics, seniority, and fate in general added up to my being the third chair bass player. Since the first two bass players were in front of the rest of the section, that meant that I was placed behind them, right on the very edge of the stage. If I looked down to my left, I would see one or two tables of people in the audience who, even though they were "in the front row," didn't have much of a view of anything other than my Allen Edmonds shoelaces. I always thought of people in the audience as guests in my home, so once I picked up my bass and started to warm up, I would always look down, catch their eye, and say, "Hello, my name is Justin, and I will be your bass player this evening." This always, always, always got a laugh from these people who were feeling a bit out of place in an unfamiliar environment...and not in the best seating arrangement. Many's the night they offered to buy me drinks.

Once management caught wind of the fact that I, unlike everyone else in the orchestra, was making eye contact and actually conversing with "those people" out in the audience, I was immediately demoted to fifth chair, where I could no longer cause such discrepancies ...

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