Is it just me, or are you noticing the same thing in the business world these days?
Lately, I am finding people I am doing business with to be really kind of funky.
I held a networking meeting and at least half a dozen people that said they’d be there, didn’t show or communicate that they could not attend!
Or, when you pitch new ideas, that make sense, they get shot down without much thought or research into the matter.
My own financial planner never checks in to see how I am doing. Prospects you call, and finally get to speak with, don’t return future calls. It’s all kind of mind blowing sort of, isn’t it?
Or has this happened to you? Someone you help doesn’t even really thank you after…this happens a lot it seems. You may send someone a lead or referral and you don’t hear from them after.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to come across like I am complaining, but wait a minute…I am complaining.
What happened to common decency, courteous service, a friendly phone call once in a while, a word of encouragement even if the answer is no?
Especially from those in larger companies when as a small business person your livelihood sometimes depends on your success with the bigger organizations. Just a phone call to say no or to at least let us know where we stand, so we don’t waste our time calling, emailing and embarrassing ourselves. Let us small business owners have some dignity.
Where did that all go to?
Aretha Franklin once sang, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”. A little respect would be nice, huh? Are we just too busy to do that? Or are we too wrapped up in our own world of concerns and priorities?
You know when I used to host/produce the Small Business Big Ideas Radio show I had a guest on that I just loved. His name is Jack Mitchell.
He’s the author of Hug Your Customer. He runs five clothing stores in Connecticut, New York and California and he runs them based on the philosophy customer first—treating people so well that it feels like a warm hug to them.
When was the last time you got that kind of service? A thank you card from a supplier, a kind word, a lead, a helping hand, it just doesn’t happen so much anymore. I think it’s time to offer good service again. I think it’s time to make people our priority—to nurture relationships instead of just going after the dollar.
Want other examples of these kinds of companies? I go to a local car dealership and I get to test drive a car for a day or two. When was the last time someone trusted you like that?
Here’s a story about a store that I used to visit. They sold automatic thermal massage beds and encouraged customers to test their beds and enjoy a free massage. Free!
You were welcome as often as you wanted to come—no pressure to buy. The company philosophy was based on love, kindness and health, really amazing business principles, huh?
What about the free massage thing though? You might wonder how giving something away for free could help your business. Well, eventually the customer will buy the massage bed or belt or perhaps will tell other people and they’ll buy some of the products.
Love, health, kindness, trust, respect—stores like these are leading the way.
ow I am not suggesting you give your car away to some guy that walks in off the street, but what about incorporating random acts of kindness in your business? It goes a long way believe me.
Here are some things you can do to beef up your service level this year…
1) Be grateful no matter what. Sometimes the people that cause us the most grief in our lives teach us the most important thing about ourselves. From a customer service point of view, thank your tough customers (or send a basket or send a card now and then to one of your clients who may be in pain with a life issue). Do something to pick the other person up.
2) Return all calls…even if the answer is no. From someone who has a business selling products, I have to tell you how frustrating it is when I give a courtesy call to see if it’s time for you to reorder and then I don’t hear back from you. Have some courtesy and return a call. What is one minute out of your day to acknowledge a call, say thanks for the offer and then politely say, “No, not just now”?
I know if I (as a vendor) didn’t call a client or prospect I would lose the business…so be sure to return all calls. You never know when you might have to rely on that vendor again or when the tables will be reversed one day and it’s you making a call that isn’t returned.
3) Connect with your clients once a year to review where they’re at and where they want to go. In other words, do a “needs analysis” once a year.
4) Have some fun with your clients. A few years ago I booked tickets to see the Royal Canadian Air Farce at holiday time. It was the New Year’s show too…so it was an even better show. I took my radio advertising clients and they got a chance to connect and meet one another. It was fun, interactive and free…not bad, huh?
5) If you mess up…do something about it. I messed up with a client this year (yes, it maybe happens more often than that and more than I care to imagine perhaps). I asked them as a way to correct the problem if I could make good on the error and also donate something in their name to their favourite charity. They loved the idea and so did the Sick Kids Hospital. Don’t let shame and embarrassment stop you from owning a mistake. We are all human and sometimes things happen or get missed.
6) Be kind first. Gosh…it’s such an insane world these days it seems. Wouldn’t a little kindness to others go a long way? It’s funny, I was walking the Nature Trail in Ajax recently and It was a gorgeous day…temperatures in the early 20s.
As I walked the trail I was so delighted that about 80% of those I saw along the trail that morning said hello and good morning…WOW…did that blow me away. In my own neighbourhood, people don’t even look your way, let alone say hi! I feel a friendly hello, a wave as you walk by someone, would be welcome. Plus, it’s amazing how such a little thing can make you feel so good!
7) Give back to community. You know we all have challenges these days: money, health, an aging parent, our kids, the environment…take time out to give back to the community. As bad as we think we have it…there is always someone who has it worse than we do. So give back a little. Donate food at Christmas, lend a hand to the Out of the Cold Program…help out at the Kids Help Phone, walk for a disease or volunteer to help a fundraising walk.
8) Slow down for 10 minutes a day. The world will go on without you even if you take a few minutes to relax. Your job is safe. I mean, if the job you do is really that stressful ask yourself who on earth would want it anyway? You might be more irreplaceable than you think!
So slow down for 10 minutes, breathe, meditate, do some yoga…but take a break from it all.
You know as we move ahead in 2018, we can all resolve to be a little nicer to those in our lives. We all can learn from them, even though at first it doesn’t appear that way and who knows what value and richness they can bring to our life.
- What are three things you will do in your business to offer excellent customer service?
- What will you do to stand out from the competition?
- If I was to ask your best client one year from now what they thought of your business, what would they say?