In July we’re taking a look at some things that have changed and/or become more important throughout the challenges, changes and transformation brought on by the virus and related issues. Last week we talked about how businesses can do a better job of working with customers, the first week we talked about communication, and this week we’re going to talk about being helpful.
I know, that may sound a little silly, but the reality is that not every business or business owner is truly in business to help others. Yes, as a business you should have an eye and ear to profit, but one of the best ways to guarantee that happening is when you are truly helping your customers. Why? Because if you’re helping them they’ll want to come back and get more help or share about you with others who need the same help. Of course, we’re not talking about just help in the sense of medical help or help fixing something, but about getting assistance answering questions they may have, resolving a problem, or meeting a need or desire. So being helpful may mean selling someone a 1000 piece puzzle, caring for (aka tiring out) their kids for an afternoon, providing a definition to a medical term, or selling someone a box of pasta and a jar of sauce.
You can absolutely have a business, even a successful one, and not make any real effort to care about being helpful. But, you probably won’t have lots of positive reviews, enthusiastic repeat customers, or anyone you could call a superfan or die-hard-enthusiast. These are the average or even the hated companies that people put up with primarily because they don’t have a choice or the penalty is too much to consider switching/moving/changing. Personally, I don’t think that’s the way to run a company, I believe businesses should train their people to be helpful, and always have the focus on their services and products helping customers and potential customers.
Being helpful doesn’t mean sacrificing our bottom line or our ethics, but it does mean being more helpful to your people, even if it means changing what you’re offering or how you’re offering it. There’s been a lot of pivoting we’ve seen over the past few months, and maybe what your people need most is for you to continue in that area. Maybe this means offering new products and services that are in line with the health crisis, maybe that means offering a smaller menu that will make it easier on your chefs and keep costs down, maybe that means letting your people work from home, maybe that means having more virtual or low/no-contact services and products that can be ordered online and picked up, or maybe that just means sending out a newsletter each week with some cheer and helpful insights.
This week I encourage you to consider how helpful you’re currently being to your customers and how you can continue to be just as helpful as they’ve always loved you to be, or become more helpful. I know that the rewards are there for companies and leaders who do take the time and make the effort to be helpful, because they have happier staffs and employees who stay with the company longer, fewer returns and refunds to deal with, customers who return and praise the company, and don’t have to spend as much on marketing and advertising because they’ve got great word of mouth and community advertising. How do you help your customers?