Lessons in goodwill and the power of feelings
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the IMS Results Count blog.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Customer experience continues to be a hot topic in retail. But when you talk with customers, there is something more. Something much deeper.
Customers often describe their best experiences in terms of how they “felt.” More specifically, they often describe how people make them feel comfortable and supported. We remember experiences based on a foundation of goodwill creating positive feelings.
While I enjoy working abroad, one of my most dreaded experiences was clearing passport control upon arrival. In a recent journey, a two-hour cue at Heathrow airport left me feeling like a “cattle in a chute” with hundreds of other non-EU citizens. Unfortunately, some of the U.S. airports are much like Heathrow with long lines and staff who are “just doing their jobs.”
However, on my recent arrival to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport from a 16-hour flight from Johannesburg, staff did not wait for passengers to cue. They went down the hall, greeting and welcoming them to the USA. Staff approached anyone looking confused and even walked them over to where they needed to be. Passport control officers greeted passengers by name and asked something about their journey.
Instead of feeling like a number in line, the staff created goodwill that completely changed everyone’s attitudes. I do not know who is responsible, but the goodwill at Atlanta passport control was not an accident.
Goodwill is both a catalyst and outcome of customer experience. For goodwill to be lasting requires:
- Leadership – Goodwill flows from the top leaders as a way of doing business;
- Culture – Goodwill is not a formula, but rather embedded in organization values;
- Customer Centric – Focused on genuine customer relationships and support.
Goodwill is quite literally the cultural foundation of positively interacting with customers in ways in which they will remember how they felt when personally served and respected. Maybe so many retailers are still struggling with “customer experience” because they are trying to prescribe it rather than live it.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is engendering goodwill largely about excellent customer service or does it go beyond that? What tips do you have for building goodwill? Are they different for small versus larger organizations?