In the last 72 hours, several moments have brought to light the negativity that we are exposed to every day. On Friday, we ordered Chinese food for dinner and although this was a simple mistake, I received chicken wings instead of chicken fingers. On Saturday, my family and I went to Boston for the day. You can imagine the struggles that we faced driving in Boston traffic. We were cut off, pressured from behind, and generally irritated by folks who have to deal with that traffic every single day. Sunday my wife was surfing Facebook, and stumbled across a tragic story where a delivery driver accidentally ran over a homeowner’s pet. To make the story more tragic, the driver simply left a note saying I'm sorry and drove off.
We are barraged with negative data each day. Advertisers tell us we are not smart enough, pretty enough or our teeth need to be whiter. Social Media tells us our friends are having more fun than we are, and have nicer, cleaner homes. The internet itself is full of stories from around the globe of horrible things that “you just won’t believe!” The biggest influx of negativity comes from the Network News who has made a living out of convincing you that the world will end tomorrow – details at 6!
I recently began to wonder just how different this makes us as a society from the days of Opie and Andy Taylor in Mayberry. Granted, I never lived in Mayberry, but I guarantee that Aunt Bee didn’t worry about what was happening in California and had no idea on a daily basis that the price of gas in Boston was too high. They spent their days in their community and related to each other. They smiled as they passed on the street and although I am sure they had serious concerns on their mind, they were concerns about things that had a direct impact on them.
In an article from the Pew Research Center (Click here) they talk about how having access to tragic or life-changing events in other people’s lives can affect your own life;
“It is possible that technology users — especially those who use social media — are more aware of stressful events in the lives of their friends and family. This increased awareness of stressful events in other people’s lives may contribute to the stress people have in their own lives.”
This stress continues to grow and that, coupled with all of the other negative inputs, can make us all very unhappy people. This leads me to my revelation for the week. This matters to each and every business owner.
Imagine for a second, that you are having one of those days. Your ride to work included the depressing morning news, your boss is frustrated by a looming project and is a bit grumpy, you sneak away to lunch and the server is rude and the order is wrong. By the time you finish the day, you have just about reached your breaking point. You have to stop at the quick mart on the way home to get some milk and fill up the tank. You notice the price and cringe. After getting the gas, you walk into the store for the milk.
As you pass the checkout counter, the older gentleman at the register says “Good afternoon”. You mumble something and continue for your milk. The young woman stocking the milk smiles brightly and hands you a gallon and says, “Here have the fresh stuff!” – returning to the counter, the nice gentleman asks if you found everything okay and makes some small talk about the nice spring weather. You notice that your stress level is dropping and you are looking forward to a nice evening at home with your family. As an impulse, you grab a candy bar treat for your daughter. By the time you leave that store, you have a bit of spring in your step. And although you don’t consciously know it, you smile a bit the next time you drive by that store and you find yourself using that store for your urgent needs in the future.
Customer service matters, it matters a lot. It not only changes the buying impulse of the shopper in the store, but it will change the habits of that customer in the future. We have all felt relief when we connect with a server or technician who we relate to and we know will solve our problem. We enjoy a meal when the atmosphere is friendly and the staff is smiling. We all know that a voice sounds different on the phone when we smile while we talk.
In today’s society, people are eager to find a shopping experience that makes them happy. If you are not actively paying attention to how your front line staff is interacting with your customers, you are truly missing the big picture. I encourage you to spend some time focusing on this. If you need my help, I would love to talk with you about how I can provide assessment and training. Having a strong and consistent customer service program will increase your bottom line. It’s that simple.
Meanwhile – take some time to tune out the negative and de-stress a bit