“Appetite” needs no definition. From infancy until elderly, each of us experiences it. Everyone relates, as we see-saw back and forth between its yearning and the satisfaction of fullness when we are well fed. We don’t need a dictionary to understand the meaning of appetite, hunger or starvation. When it comes to being starved, though few of us may know the true meaning or have ever even experienced starvation, we know intuitively that it is not a good thing. No one enjoys the thought or the experience of just withering away and starving. So it is, when it comes to the appetite for information. Nobody wants to be starved for information!
Information is equally familiar. The need to know, or what I call the appetite for information, is ever-present. It is as old as time itself. However, nowadays technology has radically exacerbated it. Our customers and employees have an ever-increasing hunger for information. The expectation is that we shouldn’t waste any time getting them told what they need and want to know. Nor do we have any excuse for not telling them. Technology is closing the gap with regard to time, and today’s expectation is approaching immediate(ly). The problem and the solution are not new. The problem is that there is this ever-present need for information to be disseminated and if we wait too long, leaving customers/employees in the dark, they come clamoring for answers. By that time, they have every right to be frustrated. The solution is to anticipate what they need to know and tell them before they even ask.
You’d be surprised, (maybe not) how often I find that activity, information or both has stalled and needs prompted by the nudge of someone starved and consequently frustrated by waiting for the information or activity that they need and want. How few business people master the art of follow-through and thoroughly meet the needs of those they interact with. How refreshing to interact with someone or a business that promptly responds and or, better yet, tells you everything you need to know at a given point in time, and when and what to expect next. I would venture to say that those who do so are nearly guaranteed success since they are such a rare commodity and such a pleasure to do business with. Such business people leave their customers and employees plump and pushing away from the table (so to speak) knowing full well when they can expect their next meal and what’s on the menu. How could anyone fail to recognize the benefit of such proactive behavior? Yet, many business people do. What’s the alternative? The information chase!
The Information Chase
If you’ve been around me much or read my writings, you’re familiar with what I call the “Information Chase.” This is when customers/employees are forced to chase the information that they need as opposed to having it provided as a constant, natural flow that keeps them well apprised.
You’ll also know that I have a simple rule to avoid it: Tell people what they need to know before they need to know it. Don’t make people come to you or your business for the information they need to do business with you. Beat the question with the answer! Tell them what they need to know before they need to know it, and then do it again and again and again. Never stop doing it. Don’t allow them to get to the point where they have to ask for anything. Anticipate their needs and meet them before they develop.
We do whatever it is we do, day in and day out. We know by past experience the FAQS (frequently asked questions) that will arise at the various stages or departmental shifts the customer/employee encounters. Many businesses post FAQs on their websites. Great idea! But let’s take it a step further and make a lifestyle or business style out of taking that approach. Quick disclaimer: I’m not saying any of this is easy. Nor am I say that I have personally mastered it. What I am emphatically insisting on is that doing so should be your goal if you want to be the very best at what you do. How?
How Do You Feed a Baby?
Forgive me for what might appear to be oversimplification, but how do you feed a baby? The answer is as simple as the question. We routinely provide a balanced diet, a spoonful at a time and at a regular interval. What happens if we fail to provide any aspect of that formula? The baby starts fussing and crying. So it is with our approach to meeting the appetite for information. We have to baby our customers and employees.
I don’t mean this in a demeaning sense, but think about it with me. If you don’t take a similar approach with your customers/employees, they will get cranky. So then, we need to provide for their appetite for information with proper nutrition, incrementally, in a timely manner on a routine basis—kind of like a series of magazine articles. More to come …
Doug Bellamy is president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif., where he is known for his proactive, innovative approach to our changing industry, and use of modern technology and cutting edge products and services.