Our Managing Director and Chief Psychologist, Stephen Kohl, believes that since the Global Financial Crisis, people have been demanding more genuine engagement and service in business.
In the boom climate prior to late 2009, companies and organisations were prepared to spend much more on out-sourced services like recruitment, training, conferences and “extras”. Following the GFC, things have been leaner and meaner, as organisations learnt to cut costs by bringing many things we had previously paid others to provide in-house. And even though the Australian economy has improved, we seem to have got used to this, just like Australian householders have got used to building savings.
At the same time this has been going on, there has been a burgeoning of social media and internet networking, to the extent that these have been increasingly integrated into most companies’ marketing and business strategies.
The result is that people expect much more from their business relationships. We expect real relationships. The GFC forced us to conserve and maximize our spending, and we’ve grown used to only paying for excellent quality, service and value. Post GFC we expect more. And through social media and other traditional advertising and networking, there is no shortage of individual consultants and companies vying for our attention and business connection.
So how do we differentiate? What can we do to stand out from the crowd, and forge real relationships with our clients, potential clients, connections and associates?
The answer is clear: be genuine and provide real and friendly, authentic service. Make genuine human connection.
In his article, It's More Important to be Kind than Clever in Harvard Business Review this week, Fast Company magazine co-founder Bill Taylor, writes that small acts of genuine human kindness and engagement are the most powerful form of connection, and can be accidentally the most powerful marketing tool we have. Why? Because we are all people, and we all respond to genuine interaction. It makes us feel good, feel trust and it stands out in a world that can seem to be dominated by cynical self-serving and arrogance. All of us want to do business with people we can trust.
To illustrate his point, Taylor re-counts the story of an American food franchise, which received huge publicity as a result of a simple and genuine act of kindness by the management and staff of their one of their outlets. Though they only produced their clam chowder on Fridays, when a dying grandmother craved the soup on a different day, they made it just for her. This small act of kindness was repaid by thousands of “likes” on Facebook, where the grandmother’s daughter and grandson posted their gratitude.
It’s word-of-mouth advertising on a grand scale, and anyone in business knows that word-of-mouth recommendation is our most powerful tool. But to be powerful, it has to be genuine. You really have to mean it. To be good at what you do is to want to share your knowledge and service with other people, and everyone responds to honest enthusiasm and care. In her recent post, Penelope Trunk says, “Networking means making real friends".
Acts of kindness make us feel better about ourselves and the world, and this is enough reward. But if we are in business for the long-term, relationships are far more important than quick deals. Good service and kindness should be the basis of everything we provide, because the real currency of business is people.
Lynette Jensen is a director & co-founder of workplace psychology practice Genesys Australia, which provides GeneSys assessments across Australia. She is committed to helping people find work-life balance through good job fit.
Add a Comment