As a child, I often visited my dad at the home improvement store he owned and operated. I liked being there, and I learned a lot from it too; in particular it taught me a lot about dealing with customers.
When customers would come in and approach my dad for help with anything from ordering custom-made blinds or scheduling installation for screens, doors and the like, my dad always greeted them with a comfortable smile, saying something along the lines of, “What can I do for you, my friend?”
The first time that happened, I remember asking him and my mother after if we knew that customer. I still remember being surprised when I was told no, that we didn’t.
“But how come he called him a friend?” I remember asking. It just didn’t make sense to me. Especially since the vibe between my dad and the customer seemed genuinely friendly, like you would be with someone you actually were friends with.
I can’t remember exactly what they said to explain this all to me, but whatever they said must have made sense, because from that time I understood—basically, my dad genuinely liked running his own business and dealing with customers, so he truly was happy to see these people and get to know them and build a working relationship with them, hopefully long-term.
The linear, young side of me found this approach amazing. Now, over the years, I’ve seen business owners and employees do something similar, but this first exposure to a dynamic like this will always stand out in my mind.
Plus I’ve also too often seen some who do the exact opposite and treat customers as people they’re doing a favor for, treating them rudely, or being abrupt and unyielding. Even if they were doing someone a favor, there’s no reason to act like that. (This is a pet peeve of mine, actually!) Besides, these customers are paying for whatever service or product they’re there for!
In those moments, I always think about how my dad treated his customers like friends, and try to do the same in my own line of work. While I have yet to actually call the people who come to me my “friend” — somehow it doesn’t come off as naturally as it did with my dad — I do my best to interact with them with a similarly open, friendly approach.
This isn’t to say that there will never be issues with customers or clients, but if you approach them in this way, I’ve personally found that things can be more easily worked out. Plus it makes whatever work you do more pleasant! I encourage you to try it too — and if you have it in you to actually use the word “friend” in this way, I’d love to hear about it!
Note: this post was created as part of Stream of Conciousness Saturday organized this week by LindaGHill, as well as the Bee as part of Love is in Da Blog; the prompt was “friend” and/or “acquaint.” I thought this was a great prompt; although I didn’t know what to write initially, once this memory popped into my head, the choice was made for me. 🙂