We are all in the P.R. business. That’s because we are all in the business of People and Relationships. Don’t get confused, or think just because your company sells office supplies that you are in a business of staplers and ink. If you are a part of the insurance business, your company does far more than collect premiums and pay out benefits. And, if you sell cars, you are definitely not in the business of selling transportation. You are in the business of people and relationships, and without them, your business will fail.
When you get approached by a customer looking for you to solve a problem, regardless of whether you sell pencils, health benefits or vehicles, they first look at you as a person. At initial glance, your customer is sizing you up, trying to determine if they trust you and if they do, should they follow your advice. If you deal with people over the phone, you are being judged by your tone, the speed at which you are speaking and your volume level. The words you say, the body language you share and information you offer are all under a microscope. Regardless of being face to face with a customer, over the phone or via email (which has its own set of challenges), you are being judged. Customer thought bubble, “Do I trust this person, do I like this person, will he give me the right advice?”
I’m a newbie to bird watching. Let me rephrase that, I have a bird feeder and it needs seed every few weeks; not because I have birds that come to get their seed on, but rather, because I have a squirrels that really enjoy eating bird food, and a few birds that like to watch the squirrels . When it comes to purchasing bird/squirrel food, I have two choices very close to my house. Choice one - Walmart Supercenter. Choice two - Mother Nature, local specialty shop. While I am a guy that likes to watch my pennies, I am also a guy that loves a great buying experience. The cashiers at my local Walmart are nice enough and they do their job well, but I love the experience of walking into Mother Nature far more. The woman that runs the place is always talking to two or three customers that have gathered at the counter or she is running around the store restocking the shelves. This woman is like a human humming bird. When I have a chance to speak with her, I feel good about my purchase and she makes me feel like I am the only customer in the world. Yes, there are times when Walmart bird department gets my business, but it has nothing to do with the pleasing conversation and good vibes I get when I head over there.
Your business is about pleasing people, even if you never see a single customer in the course of your day. Even if you never speak to a customer on the phone. I would go so far to say that even if your company doesn’t sell a single product, you are still in the people and relationship business. You cannot exist in a vacuum, just like you cannot exist in our society without people. The sooner your staff, co-workers and (even) you realize how important building relationships really is to your business, the sooner you will have a business that is thriving in the market place. The part most people have trouble wrapping their heads around is that even one person in the workplace can create a difference. An amazing customer experience can be flushed down the tubes by a cashier who doesn’t smile or keeps her head down. A huge purchase and weeks of investigation and contracts can be undone in 15 seconds by a customer service rep having a bad morning. We need each other, and it is essential that we build each other up, keep perspective on what other people are dealing with in their lives and know that the frame of mind we are in and our actions affect others. It is not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Our businesses are all built on a foundation of people helping other people. Relationships are the mortar that holds it all together. We are not in the business of products and services. We are in the business of people and relationships. Keep that in mind the next time you say, “How can I help you?”
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