We all know the negative connotations of being “vulnerable.” Our business would have gaps in security or risk management that may put us at risk of the dangers of a predatory world. It could be catastrophic for any business.
What if there were a positive state of vulnerability for our business that would draw customers. Not only draw them but get them to be our security and our defenders. What if there were a way to be vulnerable and still be secure without putting the company at risk.
The answer is, of course, there is a way. It is simply to be open and honest at all times with our potential customers. It means doing the right thing even when it may hurt us financially. It may even seem foolish to the rest of the world, but it allows us to maintain our integrity.
What am I talking about? When I used to teach college business classes, one of my favorite stories to share was about Sam Walton. He understood people! It appears that back in the 80s, Sam Walton had a habit of visiting his stores unannounced. This time he came to customer service to find a manager having an argument about tires the customer supposedly bought there and wanted a refund. The customer was insistent on getting a cash refund. Mr. Walton caught on right away and ordered the full cash refund for the tires. The customer walked away with $400 in his pocket. When he was gone, the manager turned to Mr. Walton and said, “but Mr. Walton, we don’t sell tires!” In response, Sam Walton replied, “I know that, and the customer will realize that, but he will tell everyone how we treated him today.”
Sam Walton, at that time, was about getting lifelong customers. He realized that the customer who just left with a refund from the store for tires he never even bought there would be loyal for life.
We don’t have to be so brave, but we can be honest and open in our dealing with our customers and make them feel appreciated and valued. I have always advised owners to make sure the customer leaves with a smile. If they do, they will come back and be sure to tell everyone how they were treated. If they don’t, they won’t come back and will tell everyone how they were treated.
Our vulnerability is just about treating every customer as we would want our grandma to be treated. It is that simple. Often, people are very gracious to me when I do not understand something, or I simply cannot seem to grasp an idea or concept. The same should go for every customer we have.
In our area especially, those who seem not to have a penny to their name from their look may very well be the largest landowners in the county. You can’t tell a book by its cover or a person’s circle of influence by their appearance in our area. There are times we take risks with customers simply because it’s the right thing to do. We may never see a direct payback, but we will reap what we sew, and in business, excellent customer service leads to the best payback of all… a good report to others who will come and be our customer. We can’t all be Sam Walton, but we can be the best we can be and treat everyone like we would want them to treat our grandma.
Wishing you the greatest success,
Regional Director WITCC SBDC | 712-274-6454 | Todd.firstname.lastname@example.org