“Are you easy to do business with?”
That was a question I heard years ago that made real sense to me. I interpreted it this way: Anytime I encounter someone I serve or who provides service to me, it is incumbent upon me to make the encounter a pleasant one.
So, I have spent my career with that thought bouncing around in my head. I associated being “easy” with being “kind” or “nice.”
I read a blog recently in Harvard Business Review online that expanded that thought. While it is important to be “kind” and “nice” when you encounter the customer, it’s also critical to be effective.
Let me give you an example:
You can be “nice,” but if there is a frequent error on our invoices that causes extra work or phoning to get paid, the process of doing business with us may pale against someone who gets that right.
It works internally too. Perhaps you have a job where you are responsible for providing someone down the production stream material to do their job. You have a good rapport with those users but, at the same time, you are frequently late on supplying the work or, when you do, the counts are off. You believe because of your good rapport that your customer gives you slack on it. You think you are “good” and they are OK with it. But, quietly resentment grows and your performance is perceived as lackluster.
I’ve had an experience more than once like the one I described above.
Being “easy” to do business with is more than having a friendly rapport. It is having a performance record in which we continually check to see how we can improve and how we can eliminate steps that cause distrust.
Being “easy” to do business with means buttoning up the details and being accountable.