June 5, 2014
Who is Representing Your Business by Craig Schloneger
Once again our family is planning for a transition. Our youngest son is completing his junior year in high school and the season for college visits has begun. I really enjoy this opportunity to visit schools with him. The one-on-one time is special as we talk about his future plans and where he might live.
My son is interested in pursuing an engineering degree at a Pennsylvania university. We visited four colleges and each visit followed the same pattern: An academic advisor greets us in a large group setting. Then a student leader shares about his/her experiences at the school and answers our questions. Finally, we gather in smaller groups as a student tour guide takes us around campus.
To say that I was impressed by these student leaders would be an understatement. They were articulate, friendly, well groomed and appeared to be enjoying their duties. They answered our questions in a very honest and authentic way. Because of the way the students presented themselves, I came away very impressed by each of the schools.
The universities clearly knew the significance of having parents and prospective students visit campus and had prepared very well for our experience.
This highlighted for me the importance of organizations having well-trained, friendly staff who interact with the public – especially customers, clients and guests. Even though our businesses may have a great reputation and deliver outstanding products and services, we are frequently judged by the manner in which our staff greet and interact with others.
Our frontline employees become the face and the representatives of our organizations and our brands. And yet so many staff members who interact with the public are young, not highly compensated, interact little with management and have a very small voice in the direction of the company.
Consider how they affect you: When you go out to eat, how much of your experience is shaped by the host and server? When you go into a store, think about how helpful a clerk or cashier can be to you. When you call a business on the phone, does the interaction with the receptionist create a lasting image in your mind?
Look around your organization and notice who has the most customer interaction. Have you trained them properly? Do they know your expectations and values? Do you get their feedback and ask what you can do better? What do they have to say about your customers? What are your customers saying about your staff and your company?
This summer, my son will narrow down the list of colleges to visit again in the fall. Since they all offer a great academic environment, I am sure that his decision will be greatly influenced by the people he met on the spring visits. Imagine that – a major life decision (not to mention financial!) could be made based upon the friendliness and interaction of 19- to 21-year-old student leaders.
Who is representing your business?