Let’s take Saturday as an example. It was a routine Saturday and like many others I was destined to go shopping. A visit to the supermarket was crowded as usual but most of the items on my list were where I expected to find them. I bought fuel for my car at my local filling station and headed home. As I’m unpacking my shopping I reflect on the complete ordinariness of the past few hours. I had the attention of a number of highly successful customer focused organisations. More than a dozen people from those companies had personal contact with me. Yet I could not recall a single one of them. I had given these companies my time and they had done little to ensure I would choose their store over anyone else.
That afternoon I cycled 15 miles to a little butcher’s shop high in the Pennine hills to buy some sausages! I made a real effort to get there (it’s mainly uphill) and the value of my purchase was small. Why would I make such a strenuous journey to buy sausages? Quite simply, the butchers, Brindon Addy at Hade Edge is extraordinary; the staff really make an effort to engage with you and make you feel valued. Saturday afternoon was brilliant.
I believe any of us can be extraordinary, any team can be extraordinary and any organisation can be extraordinary. So why do we experience so much mediocrity?
I’m sure people don’t go to work to do a bad job. Managers will rarely be heard telling their teams not to engage with their customers. Yet it seems that millions of people are working hard to waste their day away, where their work is a chore, something to be suffered between the other courses we call life.
Just reflect for a minute about your last 24 hours. Setting aside the bit where you were asleep and the parts where you were routinely preparing for the day. Focus on those times when you were out and about travelling, going into shops, interacting with people at work and the like. How many of those dozens of meetings with people spring into your mind? May be one or two? Often I ask people to do this and they can’t remember a single incident. They have gone through a whole day and nothing has engaged them.
If we flip this and then ask you to reflect on these interactions again and now identify those where other people would say that you have made them feel special, how many would there be? Of course we will say there are plenty, but are there? Do we make a conscious effort to really engage with people such that they would ride 15 miles on their bike to see us?