“I never have written this kind of letter before, but…….”
This is a familiar introduction to the letters from extraordinarily happy customers – notes written by people who were so impressed, or so happy, or so moved by a transaction that they were compelled to take the time to tell us about it.
Something about this transaction made a difference for them, and because of it, we’ve made a customer for life.
But here’s the funny thing about these letters – in almost all cases, it wasn’t the actual product or service the customer was raving about – it was the person delivering it.
And therein lies THE difference in the building of a successful business – a difference every leader must take heed of.
I know, it sounds fundamental, but it can be so easily ignored by leaders in the workplace, because of all the other “nuts and bolts” of process and policy that need to be attended to. All the measurements and the metrics that we hold each other accountable to are very powerful forces, and quite necessary ones.
However, to truly move the quality of the service being delivered into the realm of “difference making”, we must talk often about the human side of the equation, and the real benefits that accrue, to the company, and most importantly, to the individual.
Getting that smile, that thank you, and ultimately, that public pat on the back, has an intrinsic value that goes beyond “the job”, and into the territory of personal happiness.
We have to talk about that in the workplace, often, no matter how “squishy” and “touchy” that feels. And it should be delivered with inspirational flair and evangelical fervor to drive the point home. That is, of course, if you believe it yourself.
I’ve been lucky in my career – there have been many gratifying times where my customers, my teammates, gave me feedback that made my day. Or my week. Or sometimes, even my month. Because I had made a difference to them.
So I believe, and so I talk, and talk, and talk about it. I read every one of those “I’ve never done this before” letters at staff meetings. I use the extra-extra extraordinary ones for examples when I speak to groups. And lastly, I speak about that magical sequence of events where:
- Making a difference leads to personal happiness
- A team of happy people leads to business greatness, and
- Business greatness leads to outstanding (and lasting) profits.
Of course it never hurts to also have some objective evidence to prove your case, and we do, in spades. I use our customer satisfaction metric, the Net Promoter Score.
Here’s our “proof”: Our NPS scores after human interactions are significantly higher than scores received from customers who have not had any contact with us for long periods of time. And I mean ANY interaction – even when there was a problem.
The people do make THE difference.
And leaders must convince their teammates, and themselves, that they are all difference makers – otherwise greatness will be beyond their grasp.