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Paul Revere must have been a pretty engaging guy!

Let’s say you have two divisions of a business with relatively similar customer bases. Both divisions have well developed customer listening strategies and customer retention programs. They gather good customer insights and deliver them to all the right people. And yet, one program prompts action and gets results while the other program languishes. Why? What’s the missing ingredient?

Let’s look to history for a lesson.

You know the tale of Paul Revere – he rode on horseback through colonial communities warning them of a morning attack by the British. With this early warning, the surprise attack was thwarted and the British army was soundly defeated by the colonial militia. All this set the stage for the American Revolution. 

Apparently, it wasn’t quite so simple. In fact there were actually two riders who took different paths to warn the communities of the ensuing arrival of the British Army. Paul Revere was joined by William Dawes. What is very interesting about this fact is those who were on Paul Revere’s path heard the announcement, heeded the warning, and took action. Oddly, William Dawes was not so successful in getting his point across. Citizens in the regions in which Dawes traveled did not participate in the battle in near the numbers as those that heard the message of Paul Revere.

So why did this occur? The same urgent message was delivered to two similar groups. In the book, The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell believes it came down to differences in the two men.  For whatever reason Paul Revere was known as a credible source and he was able to deliver the message in a manner that convinced people to join forces. In sharp contrast William Dawes didn’t carry the same respect and didn’t deliver the message in convincing fashion.

In our work as customer advocates and strategists we may not be warning people of an ensuing war, but we are trying to rally the troops to make sure they hear our message, understand it, and take action on it. The story of Paul Revere holds a lesson for us – how we get people engaged is often as important as the information we provide.


About the Author

Patrick Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons

As Principal and Senior Vice President of Marketing for Walker, Gibbons has global responsibility for definition, branding, and promotion of the company and its solutions. Gibbons has published and/or contributed to a number of articles, papers, and blogs on customer intelligence topics and has a regular column in CRM Magazine. He has been a featured speaker at a wide range of conferences, and has produced a series of educational events for customer experience leaders.

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