Who Cares?

I’m just returning from our new east coast facility in NJ after a four day visit. Lots of events and meetings, but what caught my attention above all else, was what I witnessed in our sales department.

When I visit a division (because I work remotely in Asheville, NC), I try to reach out and touch base with as many folks as possible, particularly in sales (because they are the engine of our apparatus). And, during this visit, something very special happened - something that caught my attention that really rearranged my thinking about how we do customer service... and I’m talking about the big we - not just Albert’s, but all of us. What caught my attention was so many of the conversations I was overhearing between our sales team and their customers. If I didn't know better, I’d of thought they were talking to people that were their friends, their peers - but clearly people they cared about.

This observation stayed with me throughout my stay and I found myself thinking about this a lot on my drive home. Yep, a ten hour drive - but wonderful thinking time! What occurred to me is how many books, manuals, training guides, and the like, are written to help people better provide for their company through the art of customer service. It’s endless how much is written on the topic. And they’re filled with strategies, techniques, even actual tried and true lines that if used, are nearly guaranteed to win your customer’s heart.

But, from what I observed, it occurred to me, that the essence of great customer service is actually quite simple, often overlooked, and probably won't be found in a book. The essence is caring.

Essentially what we want with great customer service is for people to care about the customers. That’s what it comes down to. And caring is contagious. If we want our kids to grow up to be loving, caring people, we treat them in a loving and caring manner. That’s not a secret. If we want our teams to provide excellent customer service, it’s not nearly as likely to occur by providing training and manuals, as it is by actually caring for the people who make up your team!

That’s the simple truth about great customer service. The best way to achieve it, as a leader within your company, is to make sure that you are caring for the people that you are asking to care for the people who walk into your place of business. As elementary and fundamental as this sounds, it happens far less frequently than it should. But this will work - make no mistake about it. If you genuinely care about your team, and you openly and effectively communicate and model that caring, then you are essentially asking your team to pay it forward. And they will!

Leadership is rarely about strategies and tactics, as we so frequently believe. Those are indeed important, and in many ways are really the easy, low hanging fruit of strong leadership. Great leadership is about being the kind of person you want to see in your company. Great leadership is 90% heart and 10% everything else. And even when you’re doing that 10%, if you do it without heart, it won’t be effective.

It really comes down to our humanity. It’s easy to think that our businesses are about the products we sell. That is generally the greatest mistake a company can make. In truth, it’s always about the people who make up your company. And if those people are cared for, they will sell beyond your wildest dreams.

Pay attention to how you are with your team. How caring a leader are you? It matters!