Recent Facebook posts have depicted many many reflective and spiritual statements and graphics. Some thanked God for being able to get out of bed this morning. Others were thankful that God let them live this far unto their lives. Still others were just happy to have survived a recent life threatening physical tragedy or emotionally painful event.
These very same people, no doubt, have businesses, work for companies or teach, lawyer account for and doctor other people. Do they carry their spirituality to their chosen work lives?
I would like to think the answer is a resounding “Yes.” However; I have seen far fewer Facebook posts about the same thankfulness they show for each other than they might show for their business…and thus their customers.
Because when you have a business, it’s about satisfying the customer, exceeding his or her expectations and, if we recognized this more frequently – almost in a spiritual way – we wouldn’t need the thousands of customer service training classes, remedial training and just common sense training that is so pervasive in the business community today.
Here is a recent example of making it hard to do business.
I was preparing to celebrate my wife’s birthday, a fairly significant number, may I add, and used the “Open Table” on line service. All went smooth until I decided to call the restaurant. I dialed up the noted establishment and spoke to the maître d. I pleasantly asked her if I could bring a cake since my wife’s best friend had been baking birthday cakes for her, lo these many years, for umpteen years and could we continue the tradition.
She answered, “absolutely…not!” I was astounded and asked her to reconsider. She then responded that “we sell birthday cakes for $100 or $10 a slice. Since I was expecting a dozen or so people, I was getting annoyed with her attitude and suggested that I might take my business elsewhere if she didn’t deliver some satisfactory answers.
She simply said, “Fine, should I cancel your reservation?” “Let me speak to the manager”, I said.” “I am the manager”, she said. In one swift movement, I hung up the phone and made a reservation somewhere else where, several days later, we were joyously received and I was able to bring my wife’s birthday cake to the celebration.
Now how spiritual was this woman in her business? How much did she really care about her customers? How much did she empathize with me? How much did she put herself in my shoes? How much did she really appreciate the fact that I was willing to be her customer and if I had a good time, I would recommend the establishment to my friends. How much did she care about being spiritual and kind in her business? Not at all. She blew off a fairly expensive dinner for 12; revenue her establishment would have received over “a silly policy” issue.
If you think this is a rare occasion, fly 100,000 miles a year with me and find out about the “unfriendly skies.” Or try to return a product you bought on line, even if it had a 100% money back guarantee. Good luck finding a phone number or a process to send it back.
These silly policy issues, all too often, put a lot of pressure on front line people to defend the owner’s decisions. Intuitively they know that your policies just, “ain’t right.”
Lots of turnover, recently? Could be a sign that your employees were always playing defense over your unfriendly policies, never getting a chance to do the right thing and deciding to find a better place to earn their wages. Check yourself if you like finding people doing something wrong as opposed to doing something right.
So why do we do these things? Simply because it was marginally better for the owner and not necessarily for the customer. What will happen to their business when loyal customers wake up and realize that, if they can’t get from your establishment what they can easily obtain from other establishments, they will eventually choose a competitor’s products or services, switch allegiances and never return to your establishment or buy your service again.
Please, please think about if you are doing anything to make it harder for your customer to buy your product or service. Try to be your customer for a few days and see what is making them, perhaps, “not like you as much as they used to.” Just look at your sales and see if they have been steadily eroding? Is that a sign of something that you can fix and not “the economy.”
Nevertheless, I suspect that the manager with whom I spoke to at the first restaurant, in her private life, might very well be a spiritual and generous soul. Let us hope.
And that’s why I am never going to go to Ninos Restaurant at 1354 1st Avenue ( 1st avenue and 72nd street in NYC.
Sometimes we step over dollars to pick up dimes.
Fred, thank you for the wake up call on silly policies. I need to step back and put myself in my customers shoes and see what policies I can get rid of.