I recently went to one of the big office supply stores to get some things printed and copied. When I approached the counter I was met with, “How may I help you?” coming from a young lady at a computer station a good 6 to 8 feet away. I said yes and waited for her to come to the counter. She looked up and said it again, “How may I help you?” So I said yes and she said to go ahead and tell her what I needed. The problem was that she then looked back down at her computer to do other things while I talked. I immediately stopped speaking and she looked up and said she was listening. I responded that I would be glad to share my needs if she would look at me and pay attention. You can imagine how well she took that. Anyway, she proceeded to look at me while I went through the details of my printing. She asked me when I needed it and I told her I needed it all in a couple of hours. She then told me quite directly that she couldn’t get it done until the following day. With that I left.
I then drove down to a FedEx Office store that is a bit farther away. I went in and was greeted by two – yes, two – people who enquired as to my needs, looked at me while I talked and when I told them I needed it quickly, said they too were backed up, however, unlike the first experience, they gave me an option to do it myself so I could get it done in time. I said yes to that option and one of the young ladies followed me to a machine and walked me through the entire process and stayed until I proved to her that I could do it.
Now, contrast these two experiences. In the first, I was met with someone who just didn’t care. What they had to do outweighed what I (the customer) needed. Simply put, it was about them not me.
In the second, it was about me (the customer) and my needs first not about what they needed to get done.
This brings up a whole variety of questions, the least of which might include, how do we get employees to care, how do we get them to see that people are more important than the tasks they need to perform?
There are many parts to this answer but I think it begins with the leaders of the organization. What mission is being communicated? Is it all about getting the work done and making money or is it about ensuring that customers are successful? What the leaders of the organization communicate as most important is what employees will act on. If it’s all about the bottom line, then your customers will be left out and eventually, will go looking for someone who cares… about them.
If you consider my experience as a microcosm of this principle, it becomes clear. I was treated with a lack of concern with me so I left and so did my $100 of revenue. I then found someone else who I perceived to care about me more and they made the money.
If you want a healthy bottom line, it’s time to reconsider your prime mission. It’s time that you find or refocus on a mission that rises to a higher level, a level that is about serving others first and you second both inside and outside the organization.