When I moved into my new home last December, I was determined to find the most colorful Welcome Mat available. Not only did I want my visitors to know I was happy to see them, I wanted to remind myself that I was entering a place where good things happened.
There may have been another factor motivating my insistence that I get it right; my downstairs neighbors have a mat in front of their door that growls Go Away. Since I pass by it every time I come home, I felt obligated to counterbalance that grumpy message.
When it comes to your clients, customers and potential clients and customers what’s your sign? Are you putting out the Welcome Mat—or hanging a Do Not Disturb warning?
You don’t have to look very hard to see that every business invites you in—or warns you not to bother them.
I learned about the Do Not Disturb sign from years of flying with Northwest Airlines. Apathy and indifference seemed to pervade the corporate culture.
As the planes got grubbier and dirtier, the crews got crankier. Questions were often treated as an irritation and passengers were an unfortunate interruption.
There wasn’t much smiling going on during the million miles I logged with them.
Now that I am not limited to NWA (merged with Delta) as a carrier, I avoid them at all costs. In fact, I’ve not touched my frequent flyer miles with them despite the fact that I could have a free trip to Europe if I was feeling the need for more abuse.
On the other hand, my trips these days are mostly on Southwest Airlines and I find myself anticipating these trips since I never know what friendliness may be in store.
Is the flight attendant heading to Las Vegas auditioning as a standup comedian? Will the passengers be invited to sing Happy Birthday to a fellow traveler? Will I manage to read all the interesting articles in their in-flight magazine before we land?
You don’t need to operate an airline to recognize the importance of sending a message that welcomes.
Of course, there are times when the Do Not Disturb sign comes in handy—especially if you live with other people who don’t understand that you have a business to build, but in every part of your business where you’re connecting with other people, keep the Welcome Mat out.
Here are a few easy ways to do just that:
° Answer all telephone calls with friendly expectation. Yes, it might be a telemarketer on the other end, but unless you’re a really gifted psychic, don’t risk it by sounding grumpy.
Your voice message needs to be upbeat as well. (Skip the trite, “your message is important to us” stuff, however.)
° Get into the conversation on social media sites. If you’ve got gas or you’re bored, keep it to yourself.
Use social media to praise, share, ask questions, interact. That’s not difficult stuff, but it does take conscious effort to do so.
Keep in mind, too, that this is about connecting with other people. No matter how adorable your kitten is, use your own photograph since you’re the one we’re responding to.
° Don’t make busyness an excuse for rudeness. Dazzle people with your fabulous and thoughtful good manners. If you really want to astonish people, send them a hand written thank you note or express your gratitude publicly.
Keep asking yourself if you’ve got your Welcome Mat out. It’s one of the best business building tools you’ve got.
As Anita Roddick reminded us, “You will never fail as a result of any investment you make in humanizing your business.”