Last week I attended a seminar in Minneapolis. It was at the University of St. Thomas, a school I attended years ago while getting my bachelor´s degree. In the 20 years since I was a student at St. Thomas, a lot of things have changed, like this nice new campus they had in downtown Minneapolis.
One thing that hasn´t changed is how they treat people.
When I was a student there I overslept one morning and didn´t make it to my first hour class on time. And, that day we were having a major exam. Rather than let me fail, my professor called me (actually, he woke me up) to ask if I was coming to class that day.
Had he not called I probably would have missed the class (and failed the exam).
Another time I was trying to register for the next semester´s classes. I was a brand new student, I was unclear about their registration procedures and I had completely messed up the forms I needed to register. Plus it was late in the process so classes were filling up fast.
I´ll never forget the lady at the registration counter. She could have just sent me away to go figure it out for myself. But she didn´t. Her attitude could have been "too bad" or "tough break" but it wasn´t.
Instead, she took the time to help me get the classes I needed. She made the whole process easy and comfortable. She might have been my mom or grandmother (she was that caring). It was clear her purpose was to help me accomplish what I was trying to accomplish. And she did it in a warm, helpful and pleasant way that I still remember, years later.
Last week, when my seminar was over, I went to what I thought was an administrative office and asked how I go about paying for the seminar I just attended. The lady there said the office for that was on the other side of the building, down the hall. Before I could ask her for directions, she came around her counter and headed toward the door saying, "I´ll walk you over there."
When we got to the right office, we were greeted by another employee. The lady who walked me over told her the situation for me, so I didn´t have to. Then she left while the second person brought me back to the office where I could make a payment.
When we got there, the "payment lady" was not in her office. At this point, my "guide" could have easily just left me there with instructions to wait until the payment lady came back.
But she didn´t.
She said "let´s find someone else who can help you." And off we went.
We found that "someone else" in a nearby office engaged in conversation with another employee. When we approached they stopped talking and gave us their complete attention. One of them was able to help and she gladly offered to do so.
I found the whole experience unreal. It was unreal because this never happens anymore. Employees simply don´t go out of their way to help people. And they certainly don´t do it with a smile.
But the people at the University of St. Thomas did that day. Just like their colleagues did two decades ago. And I believe this type of experience is common at this institution. They have a knack for hiring people who care.
When you really care about people it shows. It shows in your words, in your actions and in your attitude. You don´t need to be told how to treat people. You don´t need a reminder or a checklist. When you care about people you naturally treat them well.
And when the people you treat well happen to be your customers, they´ll come back. Even better, they´ll tell others how well you treated them. They´ll do your marketing for you. When that happens you can expect more customers who are mroe loyal and easier to work with. Your employees benefit too because they have a more positive working environment.
The bottom line is that your organization gets stronger, more profitable and healthier without spending a penny more.
All because you care about your customers.