Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Because nice matters

I was in one my favorite gift stores last week and took note of the sign they had posted behind the counter: "because nice matters". I was struck by the simple, yet strong and unapologetic message the sign conveyed. In our current economy, consumers are holding on tighter to their wallets. The natural result is more deliberate choices for spending when shopping, eating out, buying gifts, and extracurricular activities. What can businesses do to attract these deliberate spenders? Follow the advice on the sign: be nice! The way in which a company's employees deliver customer service is THE differentiating factor in repeat business, referrals, and growth. Businesses in these times have the unique opportunity to build a loyal base of customers through phenomenal service. So what does phenomenal service look like? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Smile! It's one of the simplest things that employees can do. Even in contentious situations, a smile can convey warmth and genuine care.

  • Avoid the "me too" mentality. "Me too" is talking too much about yourself. Instead, ask your customers questions, get to know what their passions are, and in turn, you'll find better ways to serve them.

  • Focus on the customer. Always have the mindset of "what can I do to make a difference in this customer's day?" It might as simple as remembering their drink preference before they order, their spouse's favorite color, or asking about their kids or hobbies.

Pretty simple really. So why aren't all the places we do business following this "be nice" mantra? Well, it's not always the easiest path and it requires well trained, positive, and loyal employees who day in and day out, through good times and challenging times, are focused on delivering phenomenal, differentiated service. Not because nice is easy. Because nice matters.