I had read this story few years ago, online across some website. It was not until today morning, when I got a call from one of our clients who asked me, “Ananth, I have a question, it might be really silly, but I thought since you always say – ‘ASK & you will know’, I just thought I will ask you” that I was reminded of it yet again.
Well, my client did ask me and yes, the moment he completed the question, I totally agreed with him that it really was an extremely simple question but silly…..no…. I have always believed there are ‘no silly questions’.
As we sat discussing that query, another big query from a different client got resolved in this process too.
Not only did this client thank me for sincerely listening to him, but my other client was excited and glad that his query that we were working on since two days got resolved with such a simple solution.
My first client then called back in the middle of the day and asked me, “Ananth, I was at first very skeptical to ask that question? How come you did not laugh when I first asked you that? It sounded so simple and silly” he said.
I then told him this story that I have shared below, which he asked me to put it in a blog format, so here it is.
The STORY: “When I buy vanilla ice-cream, my car does not start! Why?”
Bottom-line: There are no SILLY Questions, ever!
I had read this story (this is supposed to be a real story) that had happened between a customer of General Motors and one of it’s Customer-Care Executives.
The complaint from this story was:
“This is the second time I have written to you, and I don’t blame you for not answering me, because I sounded crazy. It is a fact that we have a tradition in our family, we have Ice-Cream for dessert after dinner each night. But the kind of ice cream varies so, every night, after we have eaten, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream
we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. It’s also a fact that I recently purchased a new Pontiac and since then my trips to the store have created a problem.
You see, every time I buy a vanilla ice-cream, when I start back from the store my car won’t start. If I get any other kind of ice cream, the car starts just fine. I want you to know I’m serious about this question, no matter how silly it sounds. What is there about a Pontiac that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind?”
The Pontiac President was skeptical about the letter, but nevertheless, he sent an Engineer to check it out.
The two met just after dinnertime and they hopped into the car and drove to the ice cream store. It was vanilla ice-cream that night and, sure enough, after they came back to the car, it wouldn’t start.
The Engineer then returned for three more nights.
The first night, they got chocolate. The car started. The second night, he got strawberry. The car started. The third night he ordered vanilla. The car failed to start.
Now the Engineer, being a logical man, refused to believe that this man’s car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He arranged, therefore, to continue his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. He took notes, day, time etc any and all kinds of data that he thought he could use.
In a short time, he had a clue: the man took less time to buy vanilla than any other flavour.
Why? The answer was in the layout of the store. Vanilla, being the most popular flavour, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup. All the other flavours were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to check out the flavour.
Now, the question for the Engineer was why the car wouldn’t start when it took less time. Eureka – Time was now the problem – not the vanilla ice cream!
The engineer quickly came up with the answer: “vapour lock”.
This was happening every night; but the extra time taken to get the other flavours allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapour lock to dissipate.
This ended up solving a huge problem for this mega company, so the story goes……
So you see, when it comes to questions, there are no silly questions, but yes, there are usually amazing answers!
My logic is:
- Observe & you will truly see.
- Listen & you will really understand.
- Ask & you will have your answers because if you never ask, the answer is always NO!
Do you have any such interesting stories to share, if yes, please do! Would love to hear from you.
Have a wonderful week ahead.