How well do I fight for my on sanity, my time for self, my moments to breathe in and catch the value of the held breath before deeply exhaling? I walk and run for sanity, walk and run sometimes with and sometimes without the dogs. On holiday I walk for the joy of the coffee and croissant reward at the end of steep climb. For the heavenly unscheduled time it takes to go somewhere, be somewhere without demand. Feeling the value of taking the break, switching off.
There’s a very famous quote from Maya Angelou:
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel
I’m fairly sure Maya Angelou wasn’t giving business advice when she uttered those words – but still, this is something we should all keep in mind when running our businesses – in terms of customers, employees and really everyone we meet.
How do your customers feel?
I read in an article recently that the majority of complaints don’t come because of a faulty product, a dirty hotel room or a breakage – but rather, because of the customer service (or lack thereof) a customer has received. We are all human, and we all understand that sometimes people make mistakes. If a product is faulty most of us are willing to accept that it might be a glitch or a one-off. If our problem is handled well, we may even leave the situation with a more positive feeling about the company than we had to begin with. I wrote about customer complaints in a recent blog post and the issue of dealing with complaints is something I think all business owners should give thought to.
Thinking about how we make people feel though goes much deeper than just customer complaints. It’s about how any customer feels when they deal with your business. Do they always feel valued and taken care of? Do you surprise them by going above and beyond what they might expect? Are you always looking for ways to improve the customer experience? This is something I think all businesses should be working on, every single day. We should all, always be thinking about how our actions will make our customers feel.
Understanding that a customer centric culture is everything I cannot write on without a significant acknowledgement for those whom I have worked with in recent months and years. If my people do not feel happy, motivated, aware of the direction of travel in which the brand and the business goes how on earth can we be assured that the customer will be given the best of attention?
How do your employees feel?
And what about your employees? They get a payslip at the end of the month, but how do they feel about working for you? I’ve written often about how you need to have people in your team who really want to be there, not just those who are there for the payslip. You get people like this by treating them well; by making them feel good. When you make your team members feel good about coming to work, they will surprise you on a regular basis with their dedication. When your team members feel great about their job, this is when they are able to give the amazing customer service you want your business to be associated with.
This is about the big things like policies and so on, but also the small, everyday interactions. When you walk into the office, do you smile and say hello to your team as you pass, or put your head down and make a beeline for your desk? Do you engage in chat with your team, or just get straight down to business? Five minutes spent enquiring after someone’s family or asking how their weekend was might seem pointless but it makes people feel like you care about them above and beyond how they perform in their job.
I have been rubbish at having enough time recently to, “go the extra mile,” either with my own team of my own prospects. Yet I feel finally I am getting back on track. Indeed, I am currently taking a break at the end of the summer when I find email traffic marvellously reduced and where I can really switch off entirely from all things daily. Oddly I do not mind writing this somewhat cathartic blog given how bad I feel about the time I have been able to give to my own team and those that work diligently with me. To them I owe an apology and a promise knowing I must do better, be better and help more to be of service to achieve their goals and aims within the different companies in which we invest.
How do I account better for my own behaviour if I cannot be civil and pass the time of day? I have to change things to make that time possible as it is priceless in pursuit of our goals. I plan to make changes. I have already started and I know we will do better and be better both for our own enjoyment but for that of the whole success of a sustainable enterprise.
How do others feel?
If someone is not a direct customer or employee, what does it matter how you make them feel? I mean, obviously you wouldn’t go out of your way to hurt someone, but does it really matter if you make someone feel good, if they’re not an employee or customer? Well, yes it does! For one thing, it’s basic human decency to be positive around other people. There is no question that since I learned early that you get much back from life the more you put in, that the daily way I behave matters, always and with everyone. Only yesterday I was lecturing my children on not judging a book by its cover. You never know when you might need someone’s help, indeed you never know anything about someone without showing and being genuinely interested.
Having a chat with staff in a coffee shop can bring you a wealth of information which could help you to meet potential customers, or just to know which spot in the cafe gets the best wifi reception!
Sometimes it seems like we are all in a competition to decide who is the most busy, the most important when out in public. I was brought up to know that every person has a value – from the bin man to the board room Chairman and all in-between. I’m not sure what sort of award some seem to be trying to win but I think if we could just manage to look up from our phones and smile at each other from time to time it might make things easier all round. I don’t mean that you need to have long, drawn out conversations with strangers all the time – that’s just weird, and nobody has time for that! But a smile and a “hello” is a good way to make someone feel a bit better about their day.
We are all busy; we all have a lot on. I cannot remember anyone who’s told me, “no, I’ve not been up to much” – everyone is busy these days. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make a little effort here and there to make each other feel good. Showing a little compassion for your fellow human will make them feel good – but it’ll make you feel good too. When you make someone feel good, you get a sort of buzz from knowing you’ve had that effect on someone. So even if it’s purely for the selfish reason of making yourself feel good, do what you can to make those around you feel good. I really believe that in the long run, it will enrich your life and your business and pay you back at least twice as much as you’ve put in.