The ROI of Friendly

by Ken Mueller on June 3, 2013 · 4 comments

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Over the years I’ve spent a good amount of time down south, vacationing and visiting family. One of the things that I’ve noticed as we drive or walk around neighborhoods, is how friendly the people are. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE will wave to you and greet you. They are just very cordial down there. It’s refreshing.

I like to see this from businesses as well. Our local pet supply store is that way. It’s part of a small national chain, and every time I walk in, whomever is working turns around and greets me. I don’t know if this is something they are required to do by corporate or just locally, but it’s just…nice.

I try to do this myself. As I’m out walking Shadow, I try to greet everyone I meet. People are often surprised, because it’s not generally done up here in the north. But it’s a great way of meeting people in our new neighborhood. In fact, the other day I randomly decided to stop in the small Haitian restaurant that just opened up around the corner. My intention was to just grab a menu, but when I walked in, the owner got up, came over and greeted me. After we exchanged a few pleasantries, he told me:

“I don’t have customers. I have friends”

That struck me. We’d never met before. He knew nothing about me. But he saw me as a friend, not a customer. And as you can imagine, it’s a lot easier to lose a customer than it is to lose a friend.

That type of behavior doesn’t cost a thing. Friendliness has no overhead. Friendliness doesn’t require seminars and workshops. It just is. It’s a part of the culture of your business or organization. And it’s easy to be friendly both in person, and online. Extend your culture across platforms.

What’s the ROI of friendly?

What’s the ROI of a smile? What’s the ROI of a pleasant greeting?

For Pets Supplies Plus it’s me telling others about it, and returning as a customer.

For Caribbean Chez Nous, it’s me telling others about it, and returning as a customer.

Being friendly isn’t the be all of customer service, but it’s a free and easy start. It’s infectious, and travels well from top to bottom, as well as bottom to top. And don’t just keep it within the confines of your business. Take it with you as you go out in public. You might just make some friends who might also become customers.

How is friendliness instilled within your business? Is it the norm when you and your employees deal with customers, or do you need to work on growing friendliness from within?

 The ROI of Friendly
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4 comments
lauraclick
lauraclick

Living in the south (Nashville), I can say this is so very true! Nashville is such a friendly city - people are often taken aback by it when they visit here. I think that's one of the reasons I love it here, but I digress.

I think friendliness is so important. The coffee shop down the street from my house totally wins in this department and I've written about it before. Yes, I go there because it's convenient and the coffee is excellent, but it's also because the people are so great. They work to get to know your name and my favorite baristas often give me high fives when I come in and place an order. Who doesn't want to come back after THAT experience?!

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

Ken, all I can say is that it must not be Atlanta you are referring to when you talk about friendly places down south. I can assure you after living here for three years that this is hands down the least friendly city I have ever been in. But, that's a story for another time.

I can tell you that this is a great post that resonates. It is so much harder to be friendly but the dividends (or ROI) are significant and worthwhile. Dealing with mostly international customers, journalists, and partners, I have to be very careful about what I say and do from a cultural sensitivity standpoint, and without a doubt friendliness is a common thread through every interaction I have. There are many other cultures who are just inherently more friendly than we are who live in much more challenging environments. I have always thought that the true mark of friendliness is the ability to emulate it when your life is at low points.  

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@John_Trader1 It's funny, I ALMOST clarified that my experiences were all in NC. Haven't spent too much time in other parts of the south lately. And you're right, friendliness transcends cultures. We may express it in different ways, but I think everyone understands a smile and a greeting.

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