When I was 24, I moved to Seattle and really didn’t know anyone, know anything, and have any connections to anything.
I did have a hope and a dream that I could make something of myself.
That’s when I saw a job announcement in one of the Seattle papers at the time about staff for the Seattle Theatre Group.
Which little did I know would open the door to a love of the arts and a career that closely involved arts, sports, entertainment, and tickets at many points.
That’s all preamble though.
Because it isn’t what happened after that matters at all.
It is what happened when I went for my interview that is most important.
Because I remember the gentleman that I interviewed with telling me he thought he would hire me because “I had a warm face and smile.”
I came back to that conversation recently as I was flipping through Tom Peters’s book The Little Big Things as he wrote about clean bathrooms screaming “WE CARE!”
Which got me to thinking about that same sort of experience that we can and should be conveying in every industry now.
I had the chance to go to probably my favorite restaurant in DC on Sunday night, Federalist Pig. And, when I walked in, the staff was very happy to see me and asked immediately about my son. That’s a big sign that screams, “WE CARE!”
Couple that with walking next door to the coffeeshop/bookstore to The Potter’s House where the barista asked, “How are you doing?”
Again, pretty low risk engagement that screams, “WE ARE GLAD YOU ARE HERE!”
Couple that with my last trip to Starbucks in Chevy Chase where the barista mumbled a “What do you want?”
That’s the opposite of “WE CARE.” That’s more along the lines of “We could care less.”
Or, take a recent vacation I took with my family and the stay at the Hotel Lancaster in Paris. The ultimate “WE CARE” was when the bellman spent a few minutes each time he saw my son walk into the hotel to talk with him about the Tottenham Hotspurs, both of their favorite teams. My son is 7. He doesn’t really know much about football.
The thing is as more and more of our purchases are determined by the experience we have with the businesses we do business with, the more and more likely it becomes that if our service and employees don’t make us feel cared about, we are likely to turn away.
That’s even more true today as social media makes everyone a critic and makes everyone have a platform that enables them to expand their voice exponentially.
When I think about a lot of the kinds of organizations that I work with or have worked with over the years in retail, sports, live entertainment, etc., the most telling aspect of why they were successful had less to do with what they sold or what they provided and as much as anything had to do with how they made their customers feel.
In the nightclub industry, we wanted to make our regulars feel like family.
In hospitality, it was always about doing just a little more to make the person feel special.
In B2B marketing and sales, its always been about making the person on the other end feel like you are their partner and that their success is really meaningful to them.
Which opens up the door to the question:
Are we letting our customers and prospects know that they care from the first moment? Or, are we acting like they just don’t care?