When I was working in the insurance world, our company had over 200 offices in 44 states with more than 4000 producers offering their products. When I rose into the Agency Manager role, there was definitely more responsibilities and while I knew my importance as a producer, I wasn’t quite sure how this might change with my new title. It did and in many ways it was better. In one way, it was the best. You see the person that ran the warehouse, always greeted me on the phone as his favorite Agency Manager and he was never just fitting me in. He made time for me, and I felt as if I was his only Agency Manager and I felt special and important. Isn’t that how you want to feel? Think about your team and your clients…making them feel important is more important than you can possibly imagine.
Have you ever really thought about what makes you feel important? Is it someone giving you 100% of their attention…all the time? Is it when someone tells you that you’re amazing at doing that one special thing? What about when they compliment you on a job well done? It can be all, none or a combination of all of those. But it takes more than that to make you not only think, but truly feel important.
The truth is, it’s time to invest in people. Building relationships is a great way to start building foundations to make other people feel…not only think, they are important. When you are in business, it may not be as easy to do without being seen as talking down to someone or worse…acting inappropriate. Here are some thoughts:
- Be Kind-This should go without saying, but when you are respectful toward someone else, he or she will, more times than not, show the same respect toward you. Even if you are not actively trying to acquire a new client, it is important to establish a good reputation within the community. People love to do business with someone who is not just about business.
- Listen-Instead of always talking about yourself or your company, you should set aside time when you are meeting with someone to ask them his or her opinion. You do not even have to necessarily ask about subjects related to the meeting. You can simply get to know a person better. Show that you actually care about getting to know the person rather than only caring about selling a product or service. I call it being interested in them rather than interesting to them.
- Do Your Homework-Learning how to make someone feel special can be as easy as complimenting someone on something they own or did. Do you know about an award they won or perhaps something they did in the community or with their family? Showing a genuine interest in someone makes that person feel good. It shows you take notice when other people put in effort. A simple compliment is the easier answer to the question: “How do you make team members or customers feel important?”
- Agree Often-People do not want to work with others who are always complaining or disagreeing with another person’s opinion. This does not mean you have to become a yes-person. You can make your opinions known, but state them in a constructive manner where it is clear you are trying to resolve the issue. Additionally, it is also important to know when to pick your battles. Focus on the issues that matter most.
- Raise People’s Self-Esteem-Avoid passing judgment on others, especially if you do not have all the facts. If people feel good around you, then they are more likely to work hard for you and as a customer, they will want to give you their business. Even if people could get lower prices somewhere else, the fact you made them feel special means they are more likely to pay a little more to avoid stress. So many times, I may not have had the lowest price, but I took the time to ask questions, listen and educate my clients. They knew I had their best interest and wasn’t in it for the commission.
- Say “Thank You”-It is amazing how far a simple “Thank you” goes. Always thank people for their time after a meeting. Additionally, if someone provides you with good feedback or offers a good idea, then thank him or her for it. This creates a sense of understanding, and that person is more likely to go to you when he or she comes up with other ideas. The simple courtesies of please and thank you are so underrated. If it wasn’t something you learned as a child, adopt it now…and pass it on. And while we’re on the subject of thank you…a hand-written thank you not only separates you from the pack, but it also makes someone feel important and special when they know you took the time to write it and mail it.
What are you doing for your team members and clients to make them feel important and special? Watch the difference it will make when they know it’s authentic and not forced. Remember – be interested not interesting!
As Mary Kay Ash said, “Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, “Make me feel important.” Never forget this message when working with people.”