A quick reminder about how a little human connection can make a difference in business.
Today, I went to the Village Mailbox, a quaint little place just north of USC’s campus in what I would describe as kind of a junky little area. I went there because I needed to send a package through UPS for an Amazon.com return. The UPS website showed that the Village Mailbox was one of the two closest UPS stops near me, the other being The UPS Store on Figueroa.
When I went there, the small Asian man behind the counter gave me quick service and sent me on my way. The interaction itself was little more than 15 secs. That was it.
As I walked away, one of his obviously regular customers reminded the man to thank me. The man shouted after me quickly to tell me to have a nice day. The regular customer jabbed as his friend, reminding him that I could have easily gone the half mile to the other place.
It wasn’t mean. It was that intimate friendly aside that you give to someone you wish the best for. It was kind of cute actually. It made me stop at the door on my way out and look back and think: “What a pure moment of humanity.”
During our actual interaction, it was merely like a menu system on a computer. Approach counter, give box, leave. But remembering that we are more than service providers or consumers, that we are more than “what can my business provide you” is extremely important and worth holding onto. Because this guy is more than just the guy that took my package and sent me on my way. He’s a human. He has hopes and dreams and he’s trying to make a living too.
Businesses are more than just “What can I provide?” They’re more than “How can I provide it?” They’re places where people come together and interact. I think that any and every business should remember this.
After all, having worked a lot in a variety of different workplaces myself, I know what it’s like to be treated by my employer as just a robot programmed to output their desires.
But if we can instead build our businesses to understand that employees and customers are not these playing pieces, data structures, and chart data to be handled, but are humans interacting in a space that we have designed, I think that we can get so much more accomplished. And everyone will be happier because of it.
That one small moment of humanity from the mail stop? The mail stop of all places. It made me want to come back and support this business. Even if I only come here once a year, I thought to myself, “I want to come back to this.”
Just his friend’s jab at him and him shouting a genuine “have a nice day” made that happen.
Now, I’m sure you can read into this and think it might be a bit idealistic. After all, was his “have a nice day” genuine? Or did he just say it because he thought he should to make his business run smoother? Or because his friend told him to? Yeah, totally possible. But, the point is that if we can all start to think with this idealistic notion in mind. We can change things.
If that comment wasn’t genuine, let’s make it so that in the future, it is.