Santa Claus is a famous list keeper. He’s got two that we know about –the Nice List, which details all the well behaved children and all the wonderful gifts they’re getting, and the Naughty List, which includes all the not-so-well-behaved kids who are getting coal in their stocking.
Have you ever wondered what happened after the naughty kids got the coal? One thing we know for sure is that positive reinforcement is a much more effective form of behavior modification than old school punishment. Kids who weren’t so great at behaving themselves are more likely to turn things around if they’re treated with kindness and consideration.
Running a business isn’t exactly like raising children, but there are some similarities.
We all have customers who we love working with, who are pleasant and friendly to be around, who do lots of business with us, and who tell all of their friends about us. Then there are the other customers, who demand everything and want to pay nothing, who are rude to team members, and so on. If we were keeping lists, they’d be on the top of the Naughty one.
So then what happens? Sometimes, whether we like to admit it or not, we do the equivalent of giving those Naughty customers coal. If there are 5 tasks to be completed, guess who’s job goes to the bottom of the list? What calls aren’t returned as promptly? Who gets left dealing with whatever salesperson was too slow to leave the floor when they walked in the door?
This is a very human tendency, but it’s not necessarily a helpful one.
If we can stop ourselves from handing out the lumps of coal and treat those poorly behaved customers with a little kindness and consideration, we may just see their behavior start to change. Now, this isn’t saying that you should be a doormat – healthy boundaries are good for you, your employees, and your business – but it’s a reminder that change is possible. Give it a try the next time you interact with one of your Naughty customers – particularly online or on social media, where the whole world can see how you conduct yourselves. Who knows? Maybe next year, you’ll find you only have one list – the Nice one!