In early 2021, Frank Skinner was interviewed by the BBC about his attitude and approach to religion. In one part of the discussion, coupled with a wry smile, Frank said he could never relate to the furore around the rising prevalence of CCTV. It is because, Frank explained, he was always under the gaze of his own God anyway. And it is this omnipresence that resulted in what Frank called his own ‘good nature’.
‘And another thing’. Frank added, ‘This other advice we hear, about dancing like no one’s watching. I can’t do that either. Because someone’s always watching me’, he quipped.
And that got us thinking. Not about our Gods watching us. But about our own conscience ‘watching’ us. Watching how we do business. Watching how we set our own standards.
And that led to an even scarier notion. It led us to the identification of the two most dangerous words in business.
Here’s a great bit of guidance for business decision making. Whenever you have to make a decision in business, big or small, imagine your customer or client is stood next to you. Watching. Then ask yourself what they would want you to do in that moment.
Would they want you to take everything off the kitchen surface in your holiday let? Wiping every millimetre of the horizontal. Or would wiping around kettles and microwaves be ok? Would your client want you to distribute the printed notes with the two spelling mistakes you noticed? Or would they want you to correct and reprint? Would that customer venturing back to your bar want a 100% fresh pint? Or would they be OK with you topping up that overpour, secreted below the surface of the bar, from half an hour before?
It is times like these when we have a choice. It is times like these when we can do what all great businesses do, and do what we know would delight customers. Or of course we can default to the two most dangerous words in business. Two words that can be so very tempting sometimes. Especially when we’re busy. But they are also two words that, in increasingly competitive markets, arevery likely to finish our business off.
Great businesspeople set their own standards. Great businesspeople do the right thing – even when they know they don’t have to.