In business, as in life, a little kindness goes a long way.
These days, there seems to be precious little in the news that makes me want to smile, let alone restore my faith in humanity.
Today was a happy exception. Browsing through the BBC News website, I came across this story.
In a nutshell, an ambulance was attending a patient at their home in Faversham.
While there, the paramedics had no choice but to block a neighbouring drive.
When they returned to the ambulance, they found a note attached to the windscreen. For a change it wasn’t a note complaining about where they’d parked. Instead it read:
You’re blocking our drive…. No worries. Buy a coffee when you can. Xxx
Attached to the message was a £10 note.
Not surprisingly, it made the day of the ambulance crew.
It got me thinking about how personal kindness costs little but can achieve so much in different spheres of life.
Take this for another example.
My elder son started secondary school this year. Months before his first day, the Headteacher sent him a series of postcards and letters to let him know what to expect, to welcome him, to invite him to open evenings. Each one was hand signed – and I mean hand signed, not printed handwriting.
There are 200 children enrolling at that school this year. It must have taken the Head ages.
But it really helped my son feel he was valued. And his first day of school was all the more successful because he had an idea of what to expect and was looking forward to going. It seemed worlds away from the stuffy school I attended in the 1980s, and even from the far less stuffy ones I trained to teach in during the late 1990s.
At this point, you’re probably thinking that this post sounds more like an episode of Thought for the Day rather than something that could help your business.
You’re right. Sorry. I’ll get to the point.
I’m a strong believer that people like to do business with people who are kind to them. If you create a culture of kindness, it encourages customers or clients to stay with you and to recommend you to others. It also does wonders for staff retention.
Think of the company whose receptionist gives you a warm welcome, remembers your name and remembers how you like your coffee.
Or the company that sends you a handwritten note thanking you for your custom, or to congratulate you on your successes.
Now think of the companies that write to you in the hope of securing your business. Do you respond to the bog-standard template letter, or the one written by someone who has bothered to find out about you, your company and has matched their offer to your needs – and hand addressed the envelope to boot? There’s no contest really.
So my advice is to look at your business and think, how can I make our service both more personal and kind? It not only does wonders for your reputation, but it is an easy and effective way to win more business.
It also means that you get remembered. I found this letter from 1928 in my family photo albums. It was written to my great-grandfather, a surveyor. The world would be a better and more productive place if more businesses operated like this – don’t you agree?
About Ben Locker
Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.