Satisfying the Greatest Need

By Barry Maher

Mary Kay Ash of Mary Kay Cosmetics said the secret to her success was that she treated everyone as if they had an invisible sign around their necks that read, “Make me feel important.” Psychologist William James said “The greatest need of the human soul is the need to feel important.”

Make your customers and clients feel important.

But what could be more obvious? I mean, is there any company anywhere that doesn’t know that their customers are important? Is there one single company any place on the planet that doesn’t know that? Is there even a single person working in any of those companies that doesn’t understand it?

Yet as a customer how often do you feel important when you deal with those companies? Often isn’t it more like that infamous corporate phone message, “Because we value your business, please continue to hold.”

 Because we value your business, please continue to hold???

It’s like, “Hey, you’re lucky we put you on hold. If we didn’t value your business we’d just hang up on you.”

What they’re really saying, of course, is, “Because we value your business we’re going to reduce your productivity so we can improve ours.”

If I’m going to be robbed I almost think I’d prefer to have it done the old fashioned way, without the hypocrisy. I almost think I’d rather have the thief stick a gun in my belly and say, “Because I value your money, please give me your wallet.”

Make people feel important.

I was booked to do a keynote speech at a five star hotel in Chicago a while back.  As I finished checking in, the manager was at my side. He said, “Mr. Maher, welcome to our hotel. Please allow me to personally escort you to your room so I can make sure everything is up to your standards.”

Absolutely. I’ve got standards. I didn’t mention that the gig I’d done the day before was at a place that made Motel 6 look like the Palace of Versailles.

We got to the room and he handed me his card, saying, “Mr. Maher if there’s anything at all I can do to make your stay more comfortable, please don’t hesitate to contact me.”

He opened the door. The room had been upgraded to a suite.  Not just any suite, the Presidential Suite. I’ve owned two houses small than this place. In my dining room on my mahogany dining room table was a large basket of fruit and cheese. In one of my three living rooms on the wet bar a magnum of champagne was chilling in a bucket of ice.

Did I feel important? Absolutely? Sometimes it’s not bad to be confused with Bill Maher.    

And I would be recommending that hotel by name to everyone I know, if room service that evening hadn’t given me food poisoning. Make people feel important. But you’ve also got to execute.

Still, with all the talk and all the advertising about customer service, with all the blather about customer-centric companies, making people feel important is still the easiest and the cheapest way I know to differentiate yourself and your organization from the competition.

Make people feel important.

And try not to give them food poisoning.

© Copyright 2013, Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada

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