Business IS personal. At least it should be.
There’s a line in one of my favorite movies that hits on this sentiment. In “You’ve Got Mail,” Meg Ryan’s character is the heroine children’s book store owner. After enduring the closing of her store, book discounter and nemesis Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks, quips, “It’s not personal; it’s business.” Kathleen explains why she hates that adage and responds, “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”
I agree with ShopGirl.
It’s a frequent thought in our work at Crossroads. How do we make our service personal? How much time should we devote to fostering that professional relationship whether it’s with colleagues, clients, the media or vendors?
I think David Maister, author of The Trusted Advisor, would agree with ShopGirl, too. While considering all of this I was reminded of his book and one of my most marked-up chapters. I originally read that section of the book with an “I can’t keep up with more friends” attitude, but came away learning I don’t have to. I just needed to continue to get personal. And, really, it makes what we do every day at Crossroads that much more fun.
In the book, Maister explains that NOT getting personal is one reason people find it difficult to fulfill the trusted advisor role. Sometimes, whether because of process or protocol, we just don’t do it. So here are a couple of examples and a few ideas for reversing the trend and getting personal.
Thank them. Do you follow up a great meeting with a hand-written thank you note? Are you allowing a bill to arrive without personal communication? When was the last time you thanked someone for their business or told a colleague you enjoy working with them?
I received a bill from an electrician recently with a note: “Thank you for your business, Gabe & Lindsey. We appreciate the chance to help you in the home beatification projects you’re working on. It’s looking great!” I love Troy the electrician now.
Take an extra step. Do you allow the typical corporate e-card to be the only acknowledgement of a holiday or birthday? Or, are you sending something with an actual signature, a note chocked full of personal sentiment or a shared joke?
I don’t see e-cards printed out and tacked on bulletin boards or peppering desks. I see thoughtful thank you and congratulatory notes, things that make people smile again and again. It can’t hurt to have a little piece of you in a colleague’s, customer’s or editor’s office every day.
Show a little excitement. Do significant events in the lives of colleagues come and go without mention or do you help them celebrate? Whether it’s their child’s first day of school, a college graduation or a long-awaited vacation, add some pomp and circumstance and help them celebrate just as you would for a friend.
I know Margaret at the Weston wrote hundreds of welcome notes for the arrival of guests at the resort, but I love that I knew her name and that she was also excited for me to begin my vacation.
So consider taking Kathleen Kelly’s advice and begin by being personal. It’s not just about service; it’s an important part of becoming the trusted advisors we all should strive to be.