In a world that is more interconnected than ever, the interactions we have with those around us can have a much farther reach than we might realize.
The emails we send, the words we speak, the behavior we exhibit; they all contribute to the brand we create about who we are.
And in the professional world, the “experience” we give our customers, business partners, and our colleagues, all shape our professional brand.
After almost 20 years in various sales roles ( yes I started when I was 5. ;-) ) I know very well that people do business with people they like and trust. I may not have always had the best product to sell or the least expensive product, but I still found a way to be successful. I attribute that to two things - effective communication and prioritizing the customer experience.
I would love to say that I have always had excellent communication skills. However that is far from the truth. While I like to think I have usually had good intentions in my communications, the truth is that I used to be a pretty terrible communicator. As a sales manager, I found myself sitting in HR’s office to discuss my “abrasive and aggressive” conversations with my sales reps. Ugh, well if they would just do their job and prospect and SELL something, I wouldn’t have to be mean. No Holly, wrong answer.
I had a book recommended to me shortly after that meeting with HR that Changed. My. Life. I joke that I should be getting royalties for as many times as I have recommended this book to others, but the truth is I genuinely want to help other people become better communicators and hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered in my journey.
I became more thoughtful and deliberate in my communications with others. I considered how the audience would receive the message before delivering it. I would write email responses and read them several times and often sit on them for hours before hitting send. I reached a new level of self awareness in the messages I was sending, and it has helped me tremendously in my career.
Do I always communicate how I want to? Definitely not. I’m human. I get frustrated and annoyed and let my emotions get the best of me at times. But I am also not too prideful to apologize. Admitting your wrong sucks, but it’s better than not admitting it when both parties know the truth.
And the second thing I attribute to my success to is prioritizing the customer experience. And I will take that a step further. It’s not just the customer. It is every single person I interact with. I don’t say “that’s not my job” or “that’s not responsibility.” If someone asks a question, I try and answer it. It may have absolutely nothing to do with me or “my assigned responsibilities” but I truly believe what goes around comes around.
I look for opportunities to solve problems and assist others when I can because it has absolutely worked it’s way back to me in the past. I often get pulled into escalations and 90% of the time, it is because others who were contacted first are ignoring the emails and not replying. Just respond! It doesn’t mean you have to take ownership of the problem, but help the person who needs assistance get to the right place. Be a good human. Is it really that hard?
The “That’s not my job, That’s not my responsibility, My team doesn’t own that.” mentality is toxic to any organization that claims to prioritize the customer experience. And it is even worse when that attitude exists at the leadership level.
Such simple concepts - communication and being helpful - are not as common as they should be. I wish I could change that on a large scale, but the reality is that we are all responsible for our own actions. I can only hope to inspire, motivate and encourage others to consider how they are communicating and the experience they are delivering to each person they interact with.
And so if you are still reading this, I challenge you to reflect on your communications and interactions over the next few days. What experience are you delivering to your customers, your team, your peers? Do you find ways to be helpful and resourceful even when it's not "your job"?
Every interaction you have is building your brand and reputation. Consider this: based on how you treat others, would you want to do business with YOU? Would you want to work with YOU? Would you want to be a part of YOUR team? Powerful food for thought.
Did this resonate with you? Would love your thoughts :)