When people walk into your store or small business, or call it on the telephone they don’t just see or hear you, your manager, or an employee as a person that works at the business. Instead, the person they see and hear IS THE BUSINESS. In other words, the business relationship your customers build with that person, representing your business will be the key factor that drives them away, or influences them to come back again and again, and eventually become a life time client.
Within the last ten years, I have found a distinct difference in the way the younger generation interacts with their friends and family. With the onslaught of technology, their communication skills have been altered. Today, young people heavily depend on texting as a way of communicating. The time they spend communicating person to person has been significantly reduced from earlier generations.
The Detroit News cited a study, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, that showed a noticeable decline in the number of young drivers, especially those in the 16- to 19-year-old range. Another survey revealed that almost half of today’s 18-to-24-year-olds would choose internet access over owning a car.
Many people believe this shift has taken place because young people now have the ability and have formed the habit, to immediately communicate with their friends through texting, and this has reduced the need to physically be face to face.
As a result, this trend has created unique challenges for the small business owner who employs young people. Although there are many well mannered and service minded young people in the work place, it is getting harder and harder to find young employees who are skilled at communicating and interacting face to face, or over the telephone, with their customers.
When it comes down to the basics, most people want to be treated with respect. They want to feel important. Abraham Maslow taught us that. So, the question becomes, how do you get your employees to treat your customers in a way that builds lifetime clients. A good idea might be to have them stop using the Golden Rule, which states that you should “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” A better approach would be to do what Dr. Tony Alessandra suggests that you do and that is to substitute the Platinum rule for the Golden Rule. The Platinum Rule simply states, “Treat others they way they want to be treated.” While this rule works for every generation, when it comes to serving boomers, truer words were never spoken.
So, what it comes down to is this, if you have employees who have a different perception of how to treat your customers other than the way your customers want to be treated, you must do one of three things.
1. Hire young employees who already know how to interact with Boomer customers.
2. Teach your young employees how to provide the kind of service your Boomer generation customers need and want.
3. Give your Millennial employees, who are not willing or able to serve their Boomer customers, the way they want to be served, the opportunity to work somewhere else. At the risk of driving away your hard earned customers, you can’t afford to keep young employees (or any employees) who don’t understand this basic business premise.
Ultimately, the success of the interaction between employees and Boomer generation customers is the responsibility of the owner in any small business. Business owners and their managers must make this area a top priority, or risk losing the Boomer generation customers to their competitors who can.