Your mother probably said it best, "You catch more flies with honey." Translating that into business-speak, it simply means "the nicer you are, the more customers will gravitate towards your company, product, or service."
With so much communication power now in the hands of consumers, companies that learn to be nice now will succeed in the future. There are countless examples online of companies not being nice, but you know who they are and what they have done—we see it all too often in the tweets and posts of our friends who have been wronged in one way or another by large and small not-so-nice companies.
Instead of giving you the negative ones, here are a few recent examples of what it means to be in business and be nice—and to receive a ton of free publicity when people share the story online:
When a 7-year-old autistic girl would not eat her "broken cheeseburger" from Chili's, the waitress apologized for cutting it in half and told her the kitchen was making her another one right away. The new, unbroken cheeseburger was delivered to the table, with extra fries and an additional apology from the manager.
College football is big business, worth millions of dollars every year to a university system. The Nebraska Cornhuskers put all that aside to let 7-year-old brain tumor patient Jack Hoffman take a quarterback handoff in front of 60,000 fans and run for a touchdown.
Houston News 92 FM morning reporter Brent Clanton made his regular stop at Starbucks on his way into the radio station only to find the shop was closed to ready for an upcoming meeting with company muckety-mucks coming into town. The manager, spying a loyal yet now disappointed customer in the window, quickly made Brent’s regular drink and sent him on his way to the early shift.
When Miami Heat forward Shane Battier tweeted that he would stick with his superstition of drinking Bud Light to keep his team's winning streak going, Bud Light responded by surprising the basketball superstar with 1,100 cases of his favorite beer delivered to his front door.
Cases of mere mortals asking superstars to take them to formal events are now numerous online and no longer the novelty they once were. What is unusual is when one of those superstars, Joe Jonas, takes the time to produce a humorous response and even surprises the fan on national television.
Peter Shankman, author of Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over—and Collaboration Is In says it best in a recent post, "Remember the 80s? The time of Gordon Gekko, the time of greed being good, and the time of eating your young, if it meant getting ahead? It wasn't about the customer, it wasn't about listening, it wasn't even about caring. It was simply about making a profit, no matter who you had to take down in the process. The problem is, that way no longer works. And those who have yet to realize that are on their way to being eliminated."
Back to my mom. She always said, "it takes just as much energy and effort to be nice as it does to be mean." So, you decide: How do you want your brand portrayed in all that free online advertising?
[Image: Flickr user Michal]