Home » Governance » Seek the Relationship [column]

Passport renewal time was upon me so I rounded up the various documents that make up proof of my existence and went along to process my application.

Bearing in mind ten years ago when I had last repeated the process I had seen a situation where one would wake at four in the morning to grab a place in the queue, I was rather heartened by reports of a vastly more efficient system.

I was not disappointed. I could rant a little about a few minor details and the need to a few extra signs but in large I was delighted by the service I received.

The part that really brought a smile to my face was the general helpfulness of everyone there.

All I had to do was ask someone and they pointed me in the right direction.

I overheard phrases like “if they cannot help you come back and let me know”. The place hummed.

You see a passport office is not just about handing out passports, or making the actual application process easy, a passport means so much more than that.

By issuing a passport you are allowing people to travel to reunite with loved ones, to have a dream holiday, to craft an international deal, to study abroad.

There is a whole relational side to issuing a passport that could be missed if all that was focused on was the transaction of money for a travel document.

I was listening to Joshua Reeves the co-founder and CEO of Zen Payroll in a podcast this week. He was talking about seeing the people in the process you create.

Zen Payroll is an online service that deals with and simplifies payroll issues for American companies, making sure they are tax compliant in the process etc.

Paying people, calculating their income tax, can be a very tedious, and as a result an impersonal process.

You would think that an automated computer program me would make this even more so.

Not for Zen, to quote their website “Compensation should not be an impersonal transaction. It’s about employers rewarding people for their hard work, and employees feeling appreciated for their contributions.”

No matter what they create to solve the payroll problem that becomes their focus.

They are moving from transactions to relationships. It may be hard to see a relational, people based issue in your business but it is there if you look long and hard enough.

Relationships exist both within a business as well as between you and your clients.

If you build your business around those then you will make a more positive impact on society than just swooping services and goods for money. You are in the people business.

You may not thing you are in the people business but as long as you are dealing with human clients and making things that will impact their lives then you are.

Obviously it helps if you think like this before you start your business but it is not too late to build it in.

Ask why you do what you do. Then ask why again. You cannot ask why enough. Why do you want to build this product, why do you want to improve the lives of your staff, why would adding value in an area make a difference?

Get down to some nitty-gritty real heart reasons. An obvious initial answer for most people is financial gain. It is the first level for many of us, we work to make money.

But why make the money? To pay the bills, for education, for a better car?

Why then the car?

Sooner or later you arrive at a deeper level that means says something about you. Do the same with the product you are developing.

Another great question is what problem are you solving with your business?

Preferably a personal problem you have encountered or another person’s. Examine the real scope of the problem-how many people really have the same issue. Solve the problem, you change the lives of people.

Still struggling to see it?

Perhaps you need to spend more time developing relationships with others to appreciate what they are going through.

Build relationships with your clients. Be friendly. Practice dialogue. Listen more than you speak. Then shut up some more and listen again.

Really understand their problem. Stay on the right side of ethics. Keep your word and deliver what you promise.

Then seek feedback about how what you did made a difference in their life. Sooner or later you will see a common thread jump out that goes beyond just “it works well”. Phrases like “it made my life easier”, “it saved me time”, “I am more efficient”, “I shared some with my friends” are the type to look out for. Suddenly it will dawn on you that you are doing more than just sales, you are making a difference.

Source : The Herald

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