Why You Should Be Kind to Your Customers

Why You Should Be Kind to Your Customers

You gotta love a girl who names her site Heaven and El. Talk about web design potential!) Frankly, the name suits El to a T. She’s kind, generous and sweet – a real angel. Hell would probably melt if she went to visit.

So when El sent in a guest post about kindness, I couldn’t refuse. She shows you how being a kind person can go a long way to creating loyal customers for your business – and reminds you that it’s always a good idea to bring a spare set of clothes. Enjoy.

Picture the scene:

You’re taking the family out for a lovely meal. You, your other half, and a small handful of hungry children in tow. For reasons only he understands, your lovely partner takes an eternity to choose a restaurant. You feel like you’ve spied water in the desert as he pulls into the deserted car park of a friendly-looking eatery.

You quickly escort your offspring out the car and toward The Promised Land – as its chalkboard sign indicates, a restaurant renowned countrywide for its home-cooked food and carvery. (Was that your stomach I just heard rumbling?) You push open the door, usher your herd inside and…

Disaster strikes. Your three-year-old empties the contents of his wee tummy all over the floor.

You stand there transfixed, seconds passing like hours. What do you do?

Me? I froze. We hadn’t even ordered drinks. We’d just walked into the place and here was my son, covered below his knees in vomit!

A man rushed over and took control as I stood frozen, wondering why my son was sick and how on earth I’d clean up the mess. The man offered water and clean clothes for my son. He offered to clean up the mess, too, as we took the children outside for some fresh air.

A slight case of travel sickness was the culprit, so we reentered and ordered drinks to pass time until the nausea left my son completely. And our friendly hero reappeared with games for the children – they were overjoyed!

The drinks stayed down and we decided to risk a meal. Despite the drama, the food was amazing! I ate roast beef and wish I had more words to describe the homemade stuffing. It was divine. And the gravy? Wow!

I left that place ready to tell the world about the wonderful meal and proverbial cherry-on-the-top service.

I have a blog, so what better place to shout praise from the roof tops? I’ve wanted to, believe me. What’s the first thing I see every time I open Safari? The website of this place, teasing me. I left it open to remind me that I still haven’t done what I was nearly desperate to do.

This lovely place has uncovered the secret to everlasting business success.

What would it take to wow your customers until they were desperate to tell the world about you? Could you make them nearly feel guilty for not having done so sooner? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

It’s so easy to accomplish.

When that lovely man helped clean up my son and offered his daughter’s trousers so my son would be dry and comfortable, did he do so in hopes we’d leave a hefty tip? I don’t believe so. He was just being nice. He had the opportunity to be kind and he took it.

The toys he kept behind the bar weren’t there by accident, either. That took some thought and forward thinking. And when he spotted us and our hungry, fed-up children, he took the initiative, spoke up and offered us what he had to help keep us all happy.

Now, I’ve heard lots of infamous names talk about the power of caring. Gary Vaynerchuk cites it as the best marketing method ever. Dale Carnagie’s classic How To Win Friends and Influence People boils down to the sentiment that commending always works better than condemning. Even James has written about how to show you care for your customers.

But… Do you do this every day?

Could you make it your daily practice to look for random opportunities to be kind? Much relationship talk bandies about right now, stuff telling us we should get to know our customers, take care of the ones we have and generally show ourselves to be warm, friendly, trustworthy business folk.

That’s great and all. And I have a challenge for you:

I dare you to start living this way every minute of every day.

You’ve heard the saying “fake it until you make it”, but that doesn’t hold much water with genuine kindness. Fake kindness smells worse than my three–year–old’s shoes! Start being kind to people every time you can, and it’ll become easy and natural to do the same for your customers.

Aim for deliberate practice. Take every opportunity to be kind, and your customers will notice the difference. You’ll ooze caring, kindness and genuine customer service from your pores. And your customers will find themselves falling over each other to tell the world how wonderful you are.

That’s the other wonderful symptom of a genuinely kind business: People can’t help but talk about it.

Do your customers tell their friends about you right now? Do they feel so loved, appreciated and wowed they write you love letters? Start filling your days with random acts of kindness, and it’s all yours to enjoy.

P.S. If you ever find yourself hungry in West Wales, be sure to visit Buck Inn. Travel sickness optional.

Post by El Edwards

El Edwards is a freelance writer and muse. She blogs at Heaven And El, where she often shows random acts of kindness just because she's nice like that. Say hello to her on Twitter @HeavenAndEl and you'll see for yourself!

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Scott Falkner says:

    Learn to close your tags.

  2. A great post here, and I loved the message overall. But I think the link to El’s site went a bit crazy in the post here, and covered half of the post itself! Just to let you know 🙂

    • What an awesome story. Our 3-year-old tried that out one time, and we were glared at in disgust until we left in a mortified minute. I am impressed with anyone who shows that kind of empathy. Good for him!

    • Thanks Stuart. Glad you got the message. Any thoughts about how you might put it into action?

      As for the link, that was just the naughty pixies trying to coax you over to my place. Good job you resisted eh? 😉

  3. Hmmmm, so how does this translate into the online world El? I’ve found it’s easier to be kind in the offline world, there are more opportunities to help people. But not quite so easy in the online medium.

    What are your thoughts?

    • Great question Melinda. I suspect it’s a lot to do with attitude. That same spirit that would see you offering kindness to someone offline can and will serve you well online. It’s a different medium but we’re still all people.

      So if, for example, you notice one of your online contacts (am I allowed to call them friends here without getting lynched? ;)) hasn’t been around for a few days, you might, being the kind lady that you are, drop them a line and see how they’re doing.

      I offered a guest post via DM to one of my friends because I knew she was in bed with flu. Not that far removed from the days when we might have taken biscuits to one of the neighbours in our street. What do you think?

      But what a fabulous question. I think you might have just given me an idea for a follow-up post over on my place. 😉

    • I have a few tips for that, Mel. Some kindness I like to show others comes down to the kindness I’d like to be shown online:

      Respect – treat others with respect and you’ll earn it back.

      Acknowledgement – always reply to people who send you email, a tweet or a comment, even if it’s just a brief “thanks!”

      Helpfulness – we can’t help everyone, but we can do our best to offer our assistance when possible, like El’s example of offering a hand.

      Understanding – being able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and understand where they’re coming from goes a long way.

      More of the intangible stuff, but I think having that level of integrity as a person to be the best you can be is a good way to show kindness to others… and leave everyone feeling good. Yeah?

    • Hmm, some ways to be kind online:

      If a reader or client is sick, send a cyber bowl of hot soup. If practical, send a real one. If it’s their birthday, send a cake pic (and pick one that fits their personality).

      Cheer them on when they try something new (or scary). Highlight their brand new thing on your blog.

      If the service you use to “deliver” ebooks has a hiccup one day, contact the people who bought the book and send it to them manually.

      If someone makes a mistake, point it out in a nice way. Pssst.. there’s a rogue apostrophe in your second paragraph (should say “its chalkboard, not “it’s”).

  4. I wish I was in West Wales, I’d definitely visit that restaurant. But just hearing the story makes the day brighter. It is easy to be nice when it is…er, easy. But when body fluids are involved, that takes extra kindness.

    Offline: Yesterday, my husband took my son to the dentist. The hygenist and assistants were WONDERFUL. They sang to him, gave my husband a chair so he could be near, played games to keep him calm so they would not get bit. They gave him super dooper care and service and my son even let them floss his teeth. They were amazing. This caring can’t be taught. This is genuine love.

    Online: I had an A list blogger tweet about my blog. I got 300 new visitors. That was also genuine love and caring.

    Thanks El, you spread a little bit of Heaven today.

    • Oh Mary, you made me giggle because yes, the easy stuff is easy. (It was your line about bodily fluids that made me laugh!) But even the easy stuff can make a huge difference can’t it? Like all the little things the people at the dentist did for your son and husband. They added up to amazing caring and love.

      Delighted you enjoyed this and woo hoo on the new visitors. Sounds fabulous. 🙂

  5. The odd thing is, kindness doesn’t cost. A few toys in a restaurant is incidental, money-wise.

    Kindness doesn’t have to cost time-wise, either. How long does it take to send someone a kind word, a little sympathy, or a thank you?

    It’s unfortunate that so many people just don’t bother. “Too busy,” is a convenient excuse.

    Some people think it just doesn’t look cool.

    I could mention the lack of civility among the leaders of our respective nations, but my hackles would go up, my fangs would come out, and I might forget to be kind. But if that’s the climate we live in, it’s too easy to follow suit.

    Ultimately it’s not about building a brand or a loyal customer base. Not for me, anyway. It’s about who I want to be. I believe the rest follows naturally.

    Thanks for this, El. Very nicely said indeed.

    • It strikes me as ironic that we have lives filled with time saving devices and yet we’re too busy to take the time to show decent human kindness to others. What I haven’t yet come to a conclusion on though is whether we (the royal we of course) really are less kind than a few decades ago.

      I say that because on the face of it, everything points to a less personable society. Here in the UK at least, they say crime is getting worse too but the conclusion I came to after a conversation with one of my husband’s colleagues (they’re both police officers) is that the chance of being a victim of crime hasn’t increased at all. We just have a media and government who are better at massaging the figures.

      Could the same be said of kindness and our society? Like I say, I’ve not reached a conclusion yet but what do you think?

      • Interesting point, El. Here in Canada, the overall crime rate is dropping, but the sensationalist media (and the politicians who capitalize on screaming headlines) would have us think otherwise.

        So to follow your train of thought, are we less personable, or just more aware of where we fall short?

        I did a quick search on Google to see if I could find any official studies on the subject. At a glance, it seems we believe we’re less civil, but I’m not sure if the social science could provide data to support that conclusion.

        On the other hand, perception is a powerful thing. If we think society is less kind and are moved to do something about it, then maybe that’s enough.

        • I’m not surprised that we believe we’re less civil. It’s backed up by stories from older generations about how everyone knew each other and would help each other out. But I’m still not convinced. Sure, our communities are changing and families often live further apart but does that change us at an individual human level? I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. Maybe us being moved to do something about this potential change is enough. It gives us a reason to try at least I guess. 🙂

  6. Hi El,

    Lovely post about the power of kindness. It’s easiest to do when we step out of the rush and put people first. There are many opportunities to do this every day. If we do it in our face-to-face world, it will naturally ripple into the on-line world.

    How can we stop the world from its frenzied pace and savor our visit? Wonder if a grass-roots movement could slow it down?

    Thank you for your kind article on kindness! Giulietta, fellow muse.

    • Hi Giulietta 🙂
      I’m not sure we can stop the world’s pace so much as our little corner of it. What was it Ghandi said? Something about being the change you want to see? I can’t help but think that that could be key in all of this.

      Delighted you enjoyed this and a pleasure to meet a fellow muse. 🙂

  7. Like James said — acknowledgment is huge — the best bloggers I’ve seen are attentive to every person in the comments section. It’s like being a good host at a party. You can’t be all Jay Gatsby throwing huge parties and then hiding out, until that special someone just happens to drop in.

    Also, has anyone seen the research on rejection? Astounding stuff. Social rejection leads to a 25% drop in IQ and a significant increase in aggression.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2051-rejection-massively-reduces-iq-.html

    Posting in comments is a risk 98% of people are not willing to take. What if I’m the only one? What if I screw it up, get the spelling wrong and mean grammarians take me to task? What if no one agrees with me? What if I don’t fit in — what if they don’t like me?

    Being human is rough.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

    So yeah, If you can help another human being OK for being human — that has value.

  8. ‘I dare you to start living this way every minute of every day.’

    This is the best idea I’ve heard this year. No, in many years, in fact. I realise now that showing kindness is simply a matter of habits. I’m going to work more on my own habits from now on, thanks to this article.

    • You know what Bjarte? That comment has made my week! Seriously, thank you. Because as much as I love writing, nothing makes it more joyful than knowing how it’s made a difference.

      Oh and I’m no expert on habits but I’m sure the current wisdom is to take it one day at a time. We all have moments when things go a little awry but that’s what’s so brilliant about living kindly. We can chose to continue in the very next moment. 🙂

  9. Makes perfect sense to me!

    Given the choice, who would you rather do business with? Someone who is easy to get along with, competent, and yes, nice… OR, and arrogant, pig-headed, individualist who may well be a genius, but who argues with you every step of the way.

    I know who I’d pick and I think that, for most purposes, most people would agree.

    • At the risk of sounding like I’m totally disagreeing with my entire post, I’d actually like to work with the amiable genius, if that’s an option in the pot. I want to work with someone kind yes, but that alone isn’t enough is it?

      Going back to the example in the post, the food in that place was amazing! It was honestly, without doubt, the best roast dinner I have ever had in my entire life (but don’t my mum I said that ;)) and it was that, coupled with the amazing kindness we experienced before eating, that left me a raving fan.

      Had the food been rubbish or even ‘competent’ I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have felt compelled to write this post. And I think that’s an important lesson to learn. Kindness is awesome and will certainly get you far, but you’ve got to have the goodies to go with it.

      Would you agree?

  10. What great advice! There are so many businesses that fail because they do not take care of their customers. Just imagine if that guy had been rude about the whole event, it would have ruined your family’s day. Instead, he acted with amazing kindness and changed that event into something that made the day memorable, and you spreading the word about his place.

    Kindness like this is a hard thing to replicate. It’s one thing for a business owner to ‘take care of the customers’ but its an entirely new game for a business owner or manager to instill the same kind of practice into their staff, their team, their workers. That takes character, leadership, and motivation from the business owner or manager, getting this part accomplished is truly a feat.

    • To be frank Kyle, if the guy had been any less wonderful we’d have left as soon as we could brush the vomit off our clothes. 😉 Seriously, it was only because both the owner and his staff were so wonderful that we felt compelled to wait and see if youngest’s tummy would settle.

  11. is there no better way of living? we could all learn a thing or two about kindness and acts of random love.
    PS did they other food? I hate roast beef.

  12. El, great guest post. Really enjoyable. Whenever I think of Swansea, I think of Gavin and Stacey, but I digress.

    Showing kindness, can manifest itself in different ways. Instead of charging for small peices of work you do them for free. Help each other out that kind of thing. For example a few months ago I had a plugin that broke my site (DOA) and one of my online buddies contacted me on Twitter and told me about it. Then offered to fix it. Which he did and he wouldn’t accept anything in return.

    First person I asked to help on a project, you bet he was the first person I turned to and we are probably looking at a JV.

    Matthew

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