Begin At the End

“Begin with the end in mind.”  This is one of the most memorable quotes from Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and I know it has influenced many individuals and how they approach life and business.

What if, however, we used it to prime not only our personal lives but how we approach our customers?

What if, before you start any customer interaction, you thought for a moment about how you want the interaction to end?

Of course, a lot of people would probably respond that they want it to end with the customer having purchased something, but what about the rest of the interaction, what do you want the customer to feel?  Whether they buy or not, what do you want them walking away thinking?  How do you want to be remembered?

I know I would want a customer to walk away feeling good about possibly coming back and thinking about how great it was to talk to someone who seemed to care about them and their success.

Wouldn’t having this positive end in mind, one that is concerned with how customers feel, change how you or your team approach the interaction from the start?  Wouldn’t you be sure to smile?  Wouldn’t you make eye contact?  Wouldn’t you sincerely welcome customers and try to get to know them and their needs?  I can’t see how it wouldn’t change, in some way, how you or your employees fundamentally approach every customer encounter.

So, how can you use this in your business?  Well, I believe that employees getting “on the floor” and interacting with customers is much like going on stage, and that preparing for going on stage is critical to a good performance.  You see, a big part of my life has been involved with being a performing musician and I know first-hand how great an influence your frame of mind has on the quality of your performance. Ask any musician, dancer, actor, or player in a sport and they will confirm the importance of your frame of mind when you take the stage or field of play.

But what can you do?  I mean, practically speaking, you can’t stand at the door all day and ask every employee about their frame of mind. Well, at Disney World, at all cast member (employee) entrances, there is a mirror with a sign that asks whether you look good, are in character, and are ready to go on stage. Why not use this example and do something similar?  How about a reminder like a sign over the door that asks, “How do you want your customer to feel when they leave?  How do you want to be remembered?”

Beginning with the end in mind has proven to make a big difference in the personal lives of innumerable people as it has given them a goal, a targeted direction, and a mission to pursue, and I think it can have implications for customer service delivery as well by giving employees a similar goal, target, and mission.  If employees are thinking about how they want customers to feel at the end of the interaction and how they want to be remembered, a great experience becomes the goal of every interaction, and a great experience can lead to more loyal customers and more consistent revenue.

Start today and give it a try.  Begin asking your team to think about what end they have in mind.  How do they want customers to feel?  How do they want to be remembered?

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