Cynthia Kay

Cynthia Kay is a passionate spokesperson for small business- speaking, teaching and coaching … all while running an award-winning company. Cynthia Kay and Company produces high-quality communications that are used on the national and international scene.

This past week I had two very different interactions that caused me to think about how my business interacts with customers. The two customers have some common characteristics. They are both successful organizations with dedicated staffs and competent CEOs. But there are big differences in the way they work with outside resources. Customer #1 is open to new ideas. If we offer suggestions about how to improve a project they listen. If we advise against a course of action they weigh the advice. Admittedly, they don’t always take it but it is considered.

If you knew you were going to get a big influx of business would you be more likely to hire people. If you had a handle on where interest rates were headed might you think about getting a loan for new equipment? If you thought the economy was going to improve would you launch a new product line?

The owner of an insurance agency I know did an experiment. Sheila VanZile of Watermark Insurance printed business cards with two different titles: President and Queen. Over the course of time, she used both… and Queen won out. That title engaged people, helped start a conversation and gave them a glimpse of her fun personality. Her business is all about building relationships and being able to connect with customers to identify needs. She said those who were not amused at the title of Queen were actually not people she wanted as clients.

I am a frequent flyer on Delta Airlines. Fortunately I did not travel this week and avoided the system outage that resulted in hundreds of cancelled flights. Everyone is talking about how the disruption of service affected travelers and there is no doubt that the impact was significant. Others are speculating how this incident, and a similar one at Southwest, will impact these companies in the long-term.

I grew up in a family business so as you might imagine business was personal. It was also pretty casual. There were no agreements in place. There were no job descriptions and no real understanding about how the partnership would work. It just did.

Today business is much more complicated and would-be entrepreneurs are much smarter about operating agreements and other legal documents needed. But they often miss one of the key elements of success- the personal relationship.

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