Last week when I was on leave I was walking down the street to purchase a newspaper. On the way I passed a young girl busily setting up outside tables at a cafe. I was about to say good morning but she turned away, totally ignoring me. I suspect this is what she did to anyone passing by that she didn’t happen to know. My first (and lasting) reaction to this was to feel inclined never to patronise this cafe in the future.
In the days since that brief encounter, I have wondered how I would have felt had she smiled and greeted me as I walked past. The reality is that I would almost feel compelled to support the cafe if I had been made to feel welcome at that first encounter. If every potential customer who encountered this young girl felt the same as I, what has been the cost to this business now and in the future? I would suggest significant!
This is reinforced by a blog post by Gareth Jones, a member of the Advisory Board at Bostwana Youth Portal. Titled “Driving Profits Up by Over 200%…. Quite Literally!” In this blog Gareth told a story of how a builder’s vehicles had had a significant impact of his business profits. During a week of low activity, a couple of his marked/branded company vans went out and about with one intention … to drive extremely and overtly courteously. They went out of their way (exceptionally so) to let other road users out of intersections, stopped to let people cross the road, helped any other road users or pedestrians in need and were generally over the top in their respect for others.
The outcome … not only directly, via business cards handed out each time they stopped to help, but also via others who simply witnessed their courteous driving … a 412% increase in calls leading to a huge increase in business activity and profits up over 200%!!! His other conclusion, consistent with mine, was that the reverse effect would most likely be true ie poor driving & discourteous behaviour in a marked company vehicle will drive down profits-fortunately, the company chose not to test this! Nor should it need to- what is the cost to a business to ensure that their team, whenever representing the business either at work, or away from work (but in a team uniform- or vehicle) goes out of their way to smile and be courteous? No cost at all- but with a great return on investment!
Every team member, like it or not, is putting out a marketing message. Don’t leave this to chance- as is clearly outlined above, the cost is too great. Ensure that your customer service (experience) standards include clear direction as to how all interactions with the public should be handled.
And remember, a smile uses less muscles than a frown!