I am going to make a few points that will have most people nodding their heads in agreement. Yet, many businesses, business leaders and employees do not seem to grasp how these forces should be changing their behavior.
Point one, the recession reduces the amount of money most customers have to spend and as a consequence customers should be treated as more valuable.
Point two, employee job security is now, more than ever, directly linked to the businesses profitability.
Point three, customers have choices and are more likely to abandon businesses they once frequented if they have a negative customer experience or even one that is not perceived to be helpful.
Now to the notion of a recessionary mindset for businesses and employees. Here is a short story that should make the point clear.
Yesterday, northern California was particularly sunny and warm for January. For this reason I found myself heading for the nearest Goldsmith shop to purchase a few items before heading for my favorite course. I was not alone. At 9:45 am there were 14 of us waiting in front of the store. The sign said they opened at 10 am but we could see employees and possibly a manager inside drink coffee and engaged in lighthearted conversation. And, they could see us but choose to look away. Several additional employees arrived, unlocked the door and quickly locked it behind themselves. They didn’t say a word to us.
Here were 14 customers queued up, but the employees and manager continued to play by the rules—we open at 10 am. The fact that the employees were visible and obviously waiting for 10 am to open the door became a topic of conversation amongst the 14 potential customers. Someone said, “I wish Golf Mart were closer, they wouldn’t treat us like this.” A couple others agreed and others asked about the location of the nearest Golf Mart and asked about what made them special. They got an earful of positive word-of-mouth. Golfsmith might have sold a few balls once they finally opened but they lost, big time, with 14 customers. I am writing this blog to make a point but also out of frustration with the store. I am absolutely convinced that the other 13 people are also engaging in negative word-of-mouth to friends and family. And, next time, most of us will head to Golf Mart, not Golfsmith.
So what mindset should the employees and manager adopt—do the right thing for the customer. In this case, they could have opened a few minutes early. I am sure that if you asked the millions of unemployed if they would be willing to take a like minded action to keep their old job, they would have jumped at the chance.
In recessionary times, the employee mindset needs to shift from themselves and the time clock to doing what it takes to keep the business profitable and this means proactively seeking ways to serve customers. Similarly, business owners, leaders and managers need to adopt a mindset that looks for every way to serve up a better customer experience. Failure to do so will have people heading to their competitors to spend their increasingly scarce funds.