One of the lessons my dad impressed on me when I was old enough to begin to “get it” (or so I thought) was “Be a good listener.”
Naturally, the meaning of that phrase changed for me over the years.
- As a teenager, it had a rather obvious meaning, “Pay attention and you might learn something.”
- As a college student, the meaning changed a bit, but the fundamentals were the same.
- As a newly married guy and later as a dad, I fine-tuned it a bit for the roles I found myself in.
Ultimately, it was about listening before speaking or acting. A handy business lesson if there ever was one.
At work, it became far more complex as it became about listening…really listening to customers (including other people’s customers) about the detective work necessary to create and retain customer loyalty, and sometimes, about figuring out what wasn’t being said while the words still flowed.
Sometimes the most important words from a customer are the ones they fail to say.
Despite the complexity that lesson has taken on at times, the core message is still the important one – a message of listening to learn, one of the most valuable lessons my father taught me.
What level of care do you deliver?
My current context for the most personal level of service was set by Hospice of Cumberland County (Tenn.), but the who and what isn’t really the context I’m trying to get at. The level itself is what I want you to arrive at, regardless of what you do.
Consider the level of care that you’d give to a sick family member. It’s likely to always exceed that given during the course of business, but it’s a standard of care that you can consider when designing different levels of service in your business.
A level of care we’re speaking of is very personal. It isn’t suited for just any business and perhaps not for just any customer, but that isn’t my decision to make about your business. Fact is, it might be perfect for a subset of your customers…or perhaps all of them.
As personal as the end of life care you’d provide for a family member? Isn’t that a bit much? Sure it is.
I suggest that because it brings a level of personal touch to what you deliver that you might not ever have considered. While you still might not deliver something that’s of the same class as end of life care for a family member, it might just provoke a thought that transforms your high end business. That which transforms your high end business quite often transforms the rest of it as well.
What level of care have you failed to offer to your clients? Beyond levels of care, what care itself are you failing to deliver to your clientele?
Doing it right
The other lesson I remember most is “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” The unspoken second part of that is “That doesn’t mean that you should do less.”
You might wonder if there is a conflict there, but I don’t believe so. Doing the job the best you can, each time, doesn’t mean perfect. It just means best for you given the skills you possess at that time *and* with a commitment to continuous improvement.
Not starting a project (or a piece of work) because the outcome can’t be perfect is far worse than finishing it with your best, yet imperfect effort. What have you not started because you felt you couldn’t deliver perfect?
Oh and the third part…focus. Doing things right requires focus on those things. Doing 100 things poorly serves no one well, least of all you. What efforts are you making to get and stay focused? To deflect, destroy or defer distractions?
Over the last seven weeks, I had many opportunities to learn while caring for my dad. Whether from him, my mom or their friends, the lessons were almost always about taking care.
Are you truly taking care of your clientele? Is there a level of care that you’ve neglected, ignored or simply failed to design?