Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Author:  Doug McCann
Forthcoming Book:  "So You're A Nice Guy and Want To Be In Business"

Doug McCann - Author - Blog - Cashier - BusinessThe world is huge, but our technology has been making the world, seemingly, grow smaller.  We are connected today like no other means and time in mankind's history.  Through conventional media like radio and television, and with the advent of the Internet and social media, and every kind of device and platform imaginable there's an over abundance of voice, text, audio and visual data being fed to us.  Some days it seems as if it amounts to intrusive noise - everyone talking but no one listening.  We often use technology not so much because we have to but because it's just there!

At one time or another we have also noticed postings and messages reminding us just how disconnected we can be.  Photo comparisons in which a group of friends is sitting, engaged in face-to-face conversation in contrast to so-called friends sitting together, but each lost in their own world - eyes glued to their tablet or smart phone.  In the latter example, people are obviously aware of one another but may as well be strangers considering their lack of engagement.  One may be just as well off if sitting next to a stranger on a bus.

I am big on people skills and interpersonal skills.  That means making a connection with people - sending and receiving, engaged, face-to-face, or hand-to-hand.  We walk around with eyes and fingers attached to smart phones, often oblivious to the world around us - that is until one walks into a lamp post or wall, not watching where they're going!  I believe it is more important that friendships be filled with quality rather thank rank in abundant numbers.  One true friend is invaluable.  My dad taught me the importance of a firm handshake and the direct look-in-the-eye approach.  My mom taught me to show interest in the endeavours and challenges of those around us.  I learned that a sense of family lies greatly beyond the walls of the house I grew up in.  Putting people first, making folks feel welcome, putting people at ease in awkward situations - just being there, is all about family, community.

For the self-employed, practicing such interpersonal skills is an investment in people and thus in your company's future.  This can be the most valuable resource in a competitive world.  I recall reading the results of a study looking at the top ten reasons a business would lose a client or customer.  Pricing, choice, accessibility, convenience, supply and demand did not top the list.  The number one reason for losing a customer had something to do with a bad experience between customer and employee.

I believe we can keep our customers and clientele as long steady patrons by acknowledging them as real people.  Remember their name and use it!  Dale Carnegie said, "A person's name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language."  Be the first to say "Hello!" or "Good Morning!" 
Getting back to that technology which connects us so well, business has a great opportunity to embrace the immediacy and very direct communication tools to connect and interact with customers and clientele in a way that can be personal, appealing and engaging.  Using or responding to e-mail, follow up within a timely fashion making it personal.  Address the recipient by his or her name.  Be sure to thank them for their inquiry and interest.  Over all, be sincere!  One of the first signs of unsolicited e-mail or spam, is the ambiguous salutation.  The letter does not address the reader by name.  It may not even be read.

Finally, the shopping experience for the customer can be made or broken by the way in which staff engages the customer.  Even if a staff member is not so familiar with a product on the shelf, a friendly and obliging staff member can still keep a customer engaged through friendly dialog and sincere efforts to source the proper information to help close a sale.  It's really quite simple - friendly, human interaction, and making someone feel welcome, at ease and feel important trumps most everything else.

I welcome your feedback and thank you for your time and interest!