A couple of days ago I had the unfortunate experience of having to stand in a queue in a local convenience shop to get a couple of things before guests arrived for dinner.
I use the word convenience loosely as that’s what they’re called more so than what they provide in my view.
As I was waiting my turn, I couldn’t help but start to watch the staff as they interacted with the customers that were coming up to the counter to make their purchase.
I really started to become aware of everything that they were doing and not doing. It began to grow on me how they not only are the frontline marketing arm of the business, the last stop before the customer is made, but how their own personalities and actions transmit so much about the business, intentionally or unintentionally, right or wrong.
What got me the most, and I’ve been noticing it all over the place lately, is how much humans do not connect with each other. We allow true, genuine connection only within our immediate families, and frankly, most of those have little genuine connection in them (maybe that’s why we struggle so much as a society to keep our families together). It’s no wonder then that our marketing becomes short-lived, our intentions clouded, and our true value lessened as we move forward with business objectives. We call our employees customer service reps, but they don’t provide service, they perform a job.
True service lies in giving a part of one’s self to create value for another – a sacrifice of sorts. True service lies in connecting; connecting with another human being and sacrificing some of our own self-interest on behalf of another.
Marketing is all about connecting. The more we can connect with others, the more we can help them meet their needs and achieve their goals. The more we do that, the better marketers we become, and the more we are able to achieve our own goals as well.
I watched the shop assistant make a quick nod at me, as if to invite me forward to the counter, and then quickly look away, at the computer, at the wall, down at the counter, and say, “€12.50”. I instantly noticed the complete lack of engagement, of eye contact, of warmth, of connection. What was he afraid of? What is the danger in opening up to another human being, especially a customer?
Your employees are marketers. All of us are marketers. And the things we think the least of are the most valuable and have the most impact in the things we do. A warm welcome. A genuine interest. A sincere desire. True service. A steady, interested look in the eye. That’s leverage. That’s marketing.