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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"NO" for an answer

Have you ever really noticed all the negative cues that surround us in our lives?

"NO parking". "NO trespassing." "NO loitering".

Now, the "no" statements I mention above probably make sense in the context for which they are intended. Still, we are surrounded by signs and notices and words that tell us communicate negatively with us. However, what about the negative cues that are presented to our customers?

Recently, I was at a church where a sign was prominently displayed:

and then other words underneath that directed them to the "welcome" center.

The idea was to allow visitors, who often anonymously visit, to be acknowledged, properly greeted, and to be made to feel comfortable. I mentioned what I saw to a couple of people in charge (I think a couple of others mentioned it, as well); the next week there was still a sign and it still guided visitors to the welcome center, but it was very positive and gentle.

How about your office? Is the place where your customers go to fill out paperwork called the lobby or the waiting room? Do you tell your customers to "have a seat in the waiting room" (aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!) or let them know they can "relax in the lobby"? Does your staff ignore the customers and continue their personal conversation or do they hide behind a glass window or partition?

People typically want to be in positive surroundings where they feel good about things, about themselves. They often, consciously or unconsciously, shy away from negative experiences, unless they have no other choice.

I challenge you to take a look around your office or business or organization and see if there are negative cues being shared with your customers. Look hard. If you find any, consider whether the cues need to stay. If they do, figure out a way to convey them positively, so you'll know that your establishment is where the customers want to be and we can ALL feel good about ourselves.

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