To be genuine and authentic at the same time with our clients will go a long way towards building a significant working relationship with them. It doesn’t have to be an overly dramatic gesture, but a simple and sincere act you have shown could create a big impact. One satisfied customer could also promote your brand organically through word of mouth.
Studying business kindness can be a rewarding task for any motivated digital marketing agency or local brand owner. I hope this post will be both a pick-me-up for the day, and a rallying cry to begin having deeper conversations about the positive culture businesses can create in the communities they serve.
Perhaps it was these experiences of my superiors taking a miserly approach to workplace human kindness that inspired me to keep a little file of outbreaks of goodwill that earned online renown. These examples beg self-reflective questions of any local business owner:
- If you launched your brand in the winter, would you have opened your doors while under construction to shelter and feed housing-insecure neighbors?
- If a neighboring business was struggling, would you offer them floor space in your shop to help them survive?
- Would your brand’s culture inspire an employee to cut up an elder’s ham for him if he needed help? How awesome would it be if a staffer of yours had a day named after her for her kindness? Would your employees comp a meal for a hungry neighbor or pay a customer’s $200 tab because they saw them hold open a door for a differently-abled guest?
- What good things might happen in a community you serve if you started mailing out postcards promoting positivity?
- How deeply are you delving into the season of giving at the holidays? What if, like one business owner, you opened shop on Thanksgiving just to help a family find a gift for a foster child? You might wake up to international fame on Monday morning.
- What if visitors to your community had their bikes stolen on a road trip and your shop gifted them new bikes and ended up on the news?
- One business owner was so grateful for his community’s help in overcoming addiction, he’s been washing their signage for free. What has your community done for you and how have you thanked them?
- What if all you had to do was something really small, like replacing negative “towed at your own expense” signs by welcoming quick stop parking?
- What if you, just for a day, you asked customers to pay for their purchases with kind acts?
I only know about these stories because of the unstructured citations (online references to a local business) they generated. They earned online publicity, radio, and television press.
The fame for some was small and local, for others, internationally viral. Some activities were planned, but many others took place on the spur of the moment.
Kindness, empathy, and gratitude, flow through them all like a river of hope, inviting every business owner to catch the current in their own way.
Mercedes-Benz CEO, Stephen Cannon, wanted employees to catch the kindness bug because of its profound impact on sales. He invited his workforce to join a “grassroots movement” that resulted in surprising shoppers with birthday cakes, staff rushing to remote locations with spare tires, and other memorable consumer experiences. Cannon noted:“There is no scientific process, no algorithm, to inspire a salesperson or a service person to do something extraordinary. The only way you get there is to educate people, excite them, incite them. Give them permission to rise to the occasion when the occasion to do something arises. This is not about following instructions. It’s about taking a leap of faith.”
The most priceless aspect of kindness is that it’s virtually limitless. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be quantified. The Butterfly Coin idea is attempting to track kindness, and as a local business owner, you have a practical means of parsing it, too. It will turn up in unstructured citations, reviews, and social media, if you originate it at the leadership level, and share it out from employee to customer with an open hand.