Is there a reasonable comparison to be made between teenagers and your customers? I think so. My wife and I recently started helping out with the youth group at our church. We spoke to about 75 or so teens a couple of weeks ago and now help out on Wednesday nights in any way we can. Last week, as I sat talking with a group of about 10 teenagers, I couldn’t help but feeling really, really boring. No one was listening. Here I was, telling them about things I’ve learned over the years, trying to help make their high school years a little bit easier. And you guessed it. No one cared. They were either staring at the ground, staring at the ceiling, staring at a wall or texting. Just about all of them looked as if they would rather be just about anywhere else on the planet. Or so I thought. After the teens left, I received a valuable piece of advice. One of the guys who helps out with the teens, who is well-respected in the community and owns a successful small business, told me that, although they aren’t making eye contact, and though it may seem as if they aren’t listening, some of them are. Probably not all of them, but some of them are hearing what you’re saying loud and clear. He told me to power through. To keep saying the things I thought I should say. That what I had to say was having more of an impact than I realized.
I think that many times businesses, or more precisely, a businesses’ employees, tend to think their customers really aren’t listening or paying attention. Employees take their time while taking care of a customer, aren’t as engaging or as respectful as they could be, and make errors that seemingly go unnoticed. Trust me, your customers notice. They notice when you seem put off as you ring up their order. They notice when you aren’t empathetic and don’t offer a solution when your company doesn’t have a particular item in stock. They notice when it takes you three days to return their phone call, when you promised you would call back that same afternoon. It might not seem like they notice, but they do. It might seem as if they are preoccupied with the details of their own day, but you, as a provider of a good or service to them, may very well be one of the major details of their day. You may very well be one of the details they keenly remember at the end of their hectic day. And if an aspect of your brand does not meet their expectations, you are in trouble.
Your customers are secretly (sometimes not so secretly) listening to your every word, watching your every move. They are making judgements about your company at all times. Do not fall into the trap of thinking occasional mediocrity will generally go unnoticed. It will dilute your brand and give your customers a reason to consider taking their business elsewhere. Act as if your customers are listening. Because even though it doesn’t always seem like it, just like teenagers, they are.