How “present” are you with your customers? Do you make eye contact? Do you go beyond answering a question with any descriptive words or observations? Your presence can create a true human connection in the simplest of circumstances.
I was at a company Christmas party last week. I asked the bartender what red wines they offered by the glass.
“Cabernet or Merlot”, the young man said, in a monotone voice while looking at his coworker.
He did answer my question, but he was not present. He saw his job as getting me what I needed quickly, so he could do the same for the next customer. He also clearly did not want to be a part of my world. I returned for another glass of wine later on, and a new bartender was there. Being who I am, I asked him the same question, obviously already knowing the answer.
“Well, sir. We have both a California Cabernet as well as Merlot from the same winemaker. You will be having Prime Rib tonight, so I think the Cabernet is the way to go.”
I felt a connection with this man that I did not feel with the other. Same transaction. Completely different result in human needs being met. My basic need for the glass of wine was just one need I subconsciously wanted met. The second bartender made me feel good about myself, and my purchase, simply by connecting with me on a lever that went beyond just answering my query. Did that second glass of wine taste better? Probably not, but I felt good about spending my money the second time around, where the first was a simple transaction to meet my physiological needs. The second exchange only took five more seconds. Five seconds.
The difference between those two scenarios is what will separate you from the others. You can look at it as being subservient, or you can look at it as enhancing another’s life. The choice is yours. Choosing the latter will result in your happiness as well as the customer’s. This is not just about making them happy. It’s also your well being at stake. Everyone wins when you provide a connection.
It’s easy to forget we are facing people at our businesses with the EXACT same needs we have. It’s easy to see a transaction from an efficiency standpoint, and with that comes the lack of connection. But it does not have to be that way, even if efficient transactions are your goal. It only takes a moment to turn a mundane exchange into a meaningful connection between humans, with both parties needing the same thing. People are longing for connections rooted in empathy and understanding. You have the opportunity to be one or more of those important connections. Why wouldn’t you?
It’s not difficult to make a connection in even the simplest of exchanges. And when you do, the customer or guest remembers how it made them feel. I guarantee it.