Business is High School All Over Again

Whether you were quiet or quite the attention seeker, I think everyone can appreciate the use of high school as metaphor.  Back in high school, most people weren’t worried about bills, illness, business management, politics, or
anything of the sort.  Those were simple times and, in those simple times, most folks were just concerned in making a friend or two, perhaps many if you were focused on being popular.

Here comes “real life” and things haven’t changed.  The VERY real business world is full of people that crave the same simple things.  Show me a potential client and I’ll show you someone that wants attention – who doesn’t?  Surely, some folks are more subtle in their desire for attention but the fact still remains that the little things go a long way when dealing with clients.  Why?  Because clients are people.  Warmth still matters.

It’s amazing how impolite the service industries have become yet it is simple things such as good customer service, polite approach, and gratitude that keep customers truly satisfied.  In marketing, selling happiness will work more times than not.  A smile goes a long way yet consider the last time you made a purchase at a retail shop or got yourself some grub at the local fast food joint.  Chances are the people seemed like they did not want to be bothered and it probably showed in how they served you.

I make it a point to end the vicious circle of grumpyitis by doing a simple thing: smiling.  Often, I follow this act with two simple words “thank you” and, if I feel energetic enough, “have a great day”.  If those cliches are not appropriate, I go for my own customized version of “have a good one”.  The point is that I try to communicate the warmth behind it by projecting my voice, looking into eyes, and smiling.  This simple process creates a pervasive connection very often and, again, it is surprising that more people are not doing it.

The sad fact of the matter is that we live in an instant society.  In the United States, people just do not have time for anything yet they have time to be “boob tube” addicts, couch potatoes, and telephone junkies.  Throw in the fact that jobs are becoming much more demanding due to the multi-faceted death grip that has been applied by many trends (overseas outsourcing and cheap labor alternatives, for example), and we have a formula for more frustrated people wherever we turn.  That being said, it is still a matter of choice.  We all have the ability to take five minutes out to engage in quality conversation and not just the superficial “how’s the weather” line of crud.

Common courtesy is no longer common and communication’s value continues to be underestimated.  Here’s the kicker: customers will always return to a vendor or servicer for one reason above all.  What is this elusive reason?  They felt comfortable.  Comfort is a ubiquitous measure but, really, it comes down to the feeling of being needed, having your words listened to, and being dealt with in a personable manner.  These are practices that build sincerity and credibility yet businesses continue to miss the mark.

The good news is that, when a company comes along that breaks the cookie-cutter molding of poor service, they have a virtually limitless market all to themselves.  The truth is in the metaphorical pudding.  Even the large “successful” corporations are lucky if they even break 1% market penetration and that’s being generous.  There are still many untapped markets out there simply because customers have made a choice to do without a service because they had so many bad experiences.

When you do business, remember high school.  Think about the people that made an impact on you and why you still remember them so vividly.  Chances are you got to know them on a personal level; the good, the bad, and the real were all exposed.  Some folks may even remember elementary school buddies that have been long gone from their lives.  The spirit of marketing  is very similar: show people who you are and they will remember you, for better or worse.  A big step towards better marketing is realizing that we are servicing people and competing with other people doing the same.  Getting to know your clients on a deeper level, beyond trying to profile them for the sale, is key.

If you had a reunion for all your past clients, who would come?  Who would have good stories about you to share, let alone remember you?  Some food for thought…  Buen provecho!


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