It’s not personal, it’s business: originated from The Godfather and repeated endlessly in the corporate world today. This is how we’ve justified many things in business, from layoffs and mergers to corruption, disrespect and ruthless competition. While difficult decisions will always be made in business, and competition is healthy for everyone, those who approach business and customer service with a personal lens will come out on top. Here are three reasons why:
- People are always ON. Extra! Extra! In case you hadn’t heard: the work/life line no longer exists. We are always connected. We are bombarded with millions of messages a day. If you are a manager, know what your employees are passionate about outside of work. Ask them about it before you talk about the big project they are working on. Let them talk and really listen. Chances are they’ve had to miss a game or special concert because of their commitment to work. Notice the small things and uphold your end of give/take. They will be more productive, loyal and engaged if you do. It will translate into the best service for your customers, as well.
- Insecurity Theory. We are all insecure in some way, whether or not we are aware or choose to admit it. Because of this, people can be slow to trust and show true colors. Being personal does not mean being fake. It means getting real and not ducking out of difficult conversations with anyone. It means putting egos aside and admitting when you made a mistake. Because we all do.
- ROPI (Return on Personal Investment). The highest return comes back in your currency when you pay others in theirs. At the end of the day, those who have the most influence over others are those that realize it is not about them. When you do the research to truly understand your customers and how your product or service makes their life better, and you can articulate it in their language, that’s when revenue grows. When you understand where an employee is coming from and approach a conversation differently (and perhaps outside of your own comfort zone), that’s when your relationship grows.
Remember that your customers, whoever they may be – those who purchase your products/services, employees, co-workers, shareholders, board members – are all people. While face-to-face is the most personal interaction vehicle, getting to know someone and developing a relationship can be accomplished by many different touches. Simply put your needs second and any interaction goes a long way. A personal touch in your customer’s experience will make a difference in employee and customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, business performance metrics and, ultimately, the bottom line. Know what makes someone tick, know what is important to them, come from where they are, be most honest…and you’ll surprise beyond belief.