Real Life Leadership: To keep your customers happy, it is important to treat them like guests

This week's Real Life Leadership - To keep your customers happy, it is important to treat them like guests - is online.

In this column, I return to the theme Hostmanship that I wrote a lot on last year. Through this link, you can find all the various pieces, including a link to my review of Jan Gunnarsson and Olle Blohm's great little book, Hostmanship: the art of making people feel welcome.

Seems fitting that on the week when my Johnny Bunko Challenge 7th lesson - Say, Thanks, every day - is announced as a finalist in the contest, that I'm also writing about Hostmanship.

The underlying purpose of the column is to introduce our local writers to Bill Kelley who heads the talent devleopment operation at the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa.  Bill is one of our Lessons In Leadership workshop presenters on January 20.  Bill spoke at last January's event. He's smart about how leaders develop their employees to understand how to act as host to the Inn's guests. When he first heard about Hostmanship last year in my columns, he found an idea that he was already employing in his work for the Grove Park Inn.  If you are close by Asheville on January 20, register for our leadership event. It is going to be quite special.

One additional word about making people feel welcome. I believe this is a game-changing mindset during hard economic times. Hardship is an emotional experience. It is disorienting, frustrating, scary and very possibly isolating. To know that this person or that company understands can make the difference between survival now and thriving in the future. 

Let me suggest that you download the free review of Hostmanship that I did, and read it.  Pass it around the office. Schedule a lunch together, order in, and talk about how this idea could impact your business.

 It could be said that Hostmanship begins in the home, or at least the office. If we treat one another as guests, then our business' guests will find a welcoming, distinctive place to bring their business.

Thanks for reading.You can download a hard copy of the column here. Thanks.

A Revolution in Thanks and Welcome


When we say, Thanks, we are normally responding to something that someone else as done.

Their response is typically, You're Welcome.

Consider this.

To say, "You're Welcome" is an expression of invitation. "Your are welcome into my life, my space, my experience, my realm of responsibility, my zone of impact, etc. etc."

Consider this.

This exchange of expressions of gratitude is symbolic of an exchange between people.

Over the past few years, I've notice a growing shift in this expression, When I say "Thanks," the comeback is "No Problem."

This is not so much an expression of gratitude but more -

"Don't worry, you didn't really inconvenience me that much, really, my life hasn't been affected by your intrusion into it. So, no problem, just get on with your business."

Okay, that may be a tad cynical, but you get the point. Our human exchanges today lack a certain quality of gratitude. Whether we feel entitled or just overwhelmed, we really aren't that interested in this exchange of gratitude.

What prompts some of this thought has been rereading of Hostmanship: the art of making people feel welcome by Jan Gunarsson and Olle Blohm.

In Jan and Olle's view, creating a welcoming environment as hosts in our businesses is different than being good at customer service.  I believe it is a kin to becoming a "self-conscious thanks giver."

When I had the idea that my Johnny Bunko 7th lesson should be "Say, Thanks, every day," it was an idea that I saw as a logical extension of the six lessons. (For more on that, read here.)

What I didn't anticipate was the challenge to my integrity, so to speak. I began to reflect on whether I actually gave thanks every day. I certainly mouthed the words, but I realized that they were simply a way to end a conversation.  It wasn't sincere or thoughtful, just reactive.

Let me tell you that the more self-conscious I'v become about this issue, the more I see it as a powerful, yet neglected dimension in our relationships, both professionally and personally. 

So, I'm going to explore this phenomenon of gratitude over the month of the Johnny Bunko voting. I don't really know where this will lead. I've begun to scour the shelves of my office looking for people who have written about gratitude, thanks-giving and welcome. If you have suggestions, please send them along.

I believe during hard economic times that we must strengthen our social relationships to avoid serious erosion in the capacities of our businesses, community organizations, congregations, and families. If we begin by becoming people who are self conscious about giving thanks and offering welcome, I believe we'll discover a goodness in life that transcends the hardships that many of are experiencing.

Yes, I am convinced that we must both give thanks and make people feel welcome.  So, let's together, let's start a revolution in thanks and welcome.