A little goes a long way
Think about a time you went somewhere and felt really comfortable and welcomed.
How do you feel right now when you recall that space, that person?
What is it about the encounter that really connected you to it?
Think about the specifics, the things you can say you observed or directly experienced there.
Now, think about why those behaviours connected with you. Was it the attention they paid you, their interest in finding out your needs, and how they could best help you meet them?
Perhaps it was how they communicated the steps that needed to occur in a manner you found easy to understand and follow so you knew right what to do at what time. Perhaps they acknowledged how you were feeling, and wanted to work with you to solve a problem, or maybe they just spent time interacting with you in an manner that you appreciated (try to figure out what it was).
Now lets think about why these were so good.
To help I will share a recent story of an amazing retail experience I had at a chain of natural skin care products called Lush - it was that good, I think the salesperson and the store needs the credit. But to help create context of why this is a good story, I need to explain my shopping style on that day so you better understand the transformative power of a good communicator (in this example the sales person).
So I was in the big city of Vancouver from my now home on Vancouver Island. I had gone to see extended family for a quick over night visit. They had had back to school errands to run, so I tagged along because spending time with family is important to me. However, not needing anything and wanting to be anywhere but the middle of back-to-school shopping right before schools started on a weekend, my one night away from it all so to speak, on a stunning sunny day, left me a bit irritable.
Not wanting to add a nano second to our back-to-school shopping spree, I only lurked on the periphery of the stores, until our journey crossed paths with a Lush store. This is the one store which I had been trying to get to for some time solely to purchase a cream I heard was amazing for eczema (I have a little fellow with it on his hands), so I could not pass up the opportunity to pop in for this one item. Prepared for a targeted strike, get in, locate the product, pay and get out - I marched in.
Proceeding directly to the counter, I tell them the exact product I am after, explain why I heard it was good, to help confirm the products identity. The salesperson listened to what and why I was looking for the cream, but also adding detail for more clarity and understanding of the product, and asking a few key questions to help them understand more about what I wanted to achieve, rather than just getting me the product and getting me out the door (I felt recognized and understood when they greeted me directly asked follow up questions and paraphrased). All while we walked over to the product (my time as a customer felt valued as we were not idly chatting at their counter, but moving with a purpose that met my goals).
They knew exactly where the products were located as well as being knowledgeable about it (well trained staff member, building credibility for them and the store) and then recommended I sample the product, not with a blob of it on my hands, but with a totally unexpected, weird at first, but absolutely fabulous hand massage, while they talked about the great soothing and nourishing qualities of the product.
It was, hands out, the best demonstration of a product I had ever had, not only was it informative, and very professional, it was the highlight of my shopping trip. Out the door went my need to get in and get out, instead I hollered out to my family to come in, asked for another sample of the product (on the other hand, and to show off the sale person’s technique), and then proceeded to ask about all the other products I could try to.
What I valued is that not only did they agree, never once did I feel rushed, nor trapped. They took the time to explore more products that could be of benefit to my little one based on what I had originally discussed with them, and I felt there was some credibility to them in what the wanted to show me and it was not a random try stuff to buy stuff gimmick, anything I had had placed at the counter that I did not seem certain on I never felt pressured to purchase.
I went from wanting to come in a buying a small sample size of a product, to having a successful encounter in the first few moments of the conversation, that to me demonstrated respect, understanding, and trust (through brand and store knowledge). I came out of the store with several items I felt added value to what I was trying to do, confident in the brand and in a fabulous mood. The whole family spent more time and money there than intended, but still months later, I recall the experience, and look forward to trying to get back to that store, but also far more willing to go in to any of their stores out of curiosity to see it is an store culture, or just an amazing sales associate.
Either way, I will still go in to explore other products, and learn more as they did such an amazing job with me that it has instilled in me a sense of brand loyalty based solely on that encounter (trust in their brand, credibility, and positive experience). Not only that but it really buoyed my whole day and still as mentioned makes me smile. All it took them was a little extra time, and attention at the start of the encounter, to met my needs and theirs.
So when you think about the behaviours you’ve encountered that make you want to do more or less with someone, made you feel better or worse about a business or agency, think about what that behaviour is, what it makes you feel, and why that is important to you.
You may be surprised to see the common elements of successful or less than successful encounters, that you can apply those lessons learned to your own approaches. Not all role models need to be famous, nor in your life for long to leave a lasting impression. Not all leaders affecting positive change are in charge, so focus on and pick those behaviours that make you feel respected, and engaged, and be the change you want to see in your relationships. So remember, the tone by which you set the encounter will impact the success of that encounter, influence the future, and help overcome past challenges too.
A little time spent at the beginning setting the tone and attending to the others needs will go a long way towards paving the to path for smoother more effective encounters.
To learn more about the positive power of setting the tone and active engagement come to one of my talks, or contact me directly for information on coaching and designing a training program for your team.