Want to know a secret that will make your business successful? Treat people well. Not a big secret, I know. Take a step back, though. How many business people do you work with who don’t apply this “secret”? What effort does it take to treat people well? Is it really too much to ask?
We talk and hear and read about how “business is in the relationships,” about “good customer service,” and “the key to your success is in good networking.” It’s actually much simpler than that, and (at the same time) a little more challenging to apply. Treating people well has been encouraged for thousands of years by influential people. It goes deeper too. Treating each person well, and not just the ones we like, can make a huge difference in the success of your business. I’m going to talk about a few of these influential people and their advice.
“Which of you, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it?” – Jesus
That quote about the lost sheep has been discussed for a long time by a lot of people. What is so important about that one? There is the general, everyone-is-important concept: 100 supporters is better than 99. That makes sense. But it is more than that. What is the impact one can have?
Gary Veynerchuk’s recommendation is that we should treat everyone like a goldfish. He makes the point that every individual needs to be recognized and treated as special. Each person needs to know you care.
“If you do treat everybody like it’s one huge big ass ocean and there’s lots of fish, you may focus on the whales, and some of the tiger sharks. But, if you treated every person that you do business with or every client you have as a goldfish, as a one within a little, you will be in a totally different place, your brand will be… If you treat everyone like a goldfish, you will have a bigger business.” -Gary Vaynerchuk
So does treating each person to the best of your ability really make a difference? You’ve probably read the story or seen an Instagram meme of the elderly man who went along the beach throwing washed-up starfish back into the ocean. An onlooker (usually a littler girl as the story is told) asked the man why he botheres, when there were hundreds of starfish washed upon the shore. She points how how he couldn’t possibly make a significant difference. The old man’s response as he throws another starfish into the waves is simply, “It makes a difference to this one.”
Many of you work with other businesses instead of directly with consumers. If you haven’t read this in my blog, I’ll repeat it here: The people you work with are your customer, not the corporate entity you sell to. Corporate entities are made of people, after all; right? So, it is always about the same things; showing true character, building trust, and developing loyalty.
Steven R. Covey takes the concept of trust and loyalty and shows how that one person is important. He says, “The key to the 99 is the 1.” How you talk about and treat the one (especially when that one is in a place of vulnerability) says more about you and your business than almost anything else.
“Every organization has its competitors and its enemies. Why is it such a big deal to talk about them in a cavalier or casual way? It’s a big deal because if you allow people around you to stereotype, castigate, and label others, you basically tell them that you would make snide remarks about them behind their backs. You tell them that you’re not centered on principles; you’re seeking gain, pleasure, or popularity at someone else’s expense. If you talk loosely about a customer, you will likely talk loosely about employees. I think the key to the 99 is the one. If people know that if you treat one person with respect, then under a different circumstance you would likely treat them the same way, even if there was some strain or pressure added.” -Stephen R. Covey
If you want customers to be loyal to you, you need to be loyal to each one. When we care for the one, “it shows our character, and affects the many,” continues Covey.
When it comes to marketing, social media, sales, and business meetings in general, prepare ahead for discussions. Anticipate subject matter as much as you can. Get clearance from anyone involved, especially if people are discussed. Covey recommends that you call and ask, “I know you can’t be present, but would it be all right if I talk about you or represent your position in this way?” When the discussion is done, call back and report what was said and done. Be clear on your intentions, words, and actions.
We are in a quality movement that focuses on the customer. Smart businesses have concluded that quality in product, communication, and relationships can’t just be at the end with the customer, they have to be top-down and all the way through.
Treating people well on social media requires taking many nuances into account. As Gary Vaynerchuk says:
“Take a step back and realize there is such a different cadence and speed on social. There is more listening involved. It’s not an announcement platform, it’s an engagement platform. And to engage, you need to listen.”
Do more listening and less talking. Focus on creating content that sparks conversations. Not just any conversation, ones that add value. Be Patient. Taking care of the one is relationship development, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Acknowledge each person’s comment wherever you possibly can. If a client came up to you face to face and asked you a question, would you ignore them? If you did, and if you continually treated people in general the same way, your business will suffer. End of story. Treat people at a distance, like in social media, the same as you would someone in person. You don’t have to be superhuman in this effort, but you do need to make an effort.
Don’t publish and then walk away. Be there to follow up and answer. Participate in conversations. If social media is a big party, and you want your business to stand out, get involved. Listen and share. Have fun. “Reciprocate. Notice others who share your posts and talk about you. Help them out by sharing their posts and talking about them, too,” writes Susan Gunelius of Entrepreneur.
People aren’t generally comfortable around plastic smiles and superficiality. Let your audience know you are human. Show your softer side. Get real on there. When you connect to people as your real self, you will them feel connected to you.
Know your customer’s needs. That means you want and need to do your research. Be consistent in your interactions. Show you are dependable and reliable. Reign in customer complaints efficiently. Go above and beyond to help anyone with a problem.
If you want to reach and gain the 99, treat them each like the one. Treat all people with respect and care. Your business, all the people you work with, and all your customers will thank you for it.