Ten years ago, on the morning that my grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer, after the appointment with the doctor, he and my mom and my grandma went to a restaurant for a late breakfast. It was a sad, heavy and somber day. The news was not unexpected, but still hard to bear. My grandfather’s life was coming to an end, and now everyone knew it.
The three of them sat at the restaurant table to share a meal and enjoy each other’s company on what was sure to be one of their last times going out for breakfast together. And the restaurant served up a mediocre plate of pancakes and overcooked eggs. The food was not good, but, as was typical of my grandfather, he didn’t complain. Instead, they all sat together and talked and tried to enjoy the day as much as they could, even after getting some really bad news.
The waitress who served those pancakes and the cook who prepared them probably had no idea that they were serving such an important plate of pancakes. Who would have guessed that these pancakes were about to be eaten by someone who had just gotten such terrible news?
The point of this story is that every time you sell to a customer, every time you serve a customer, every time you call (or take a call from) a customer, you never know what hardships or struggles or sadness that customer might be dealing with today.
Your restaurant might be serving a family that just got some terrible news at the hospital. You might be talking to a customer on the phone who is worried about her elderly mother, or worried about bad news from her son at school, or who is going through a divorce or cancer treatment or some other really hard times.
An ordinary day for you might happen to be someone else’s worst day of their life. You never know what people are dealing with on any given day.
Make sure that you and your company’s customer service staff are treating people accordingly. Try to leave your customer’s spirits in better shape than when you found them – no matter what kind of day they’re having.
Business is not just about exchanging money. On some level, being in business is about touching people’s lives. We all cross paths with people in the course of our business day, whether they’re customers, suppliers, partners, colleagues, supervisors or employees. Let’s try to find new ways to make other people’s lives a little better. Whether it’s by delivering exceptional service, or finding ways to add a little extra value, or offering some free advice, or relieving someone’s worries, or making someone smile, or just taking time to listen, there are so many ways that the way you act during an “ordinary” day at work can make a small but meaningful difference in someone else’s life.
That’s the kind of person my grandfather was. I try to follow that example in my own business and in my own life. I hope we all can.
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