What’s your favorite thing to do on your front porch?
I love asking my clients this question because each answer, whether it’s sitting, talking, eating, singing or drinking, has one thing in common: approachability. Front porches were originally made popular by the Greeks who used them as gathering spots for public discussions. Then, thousands of years later in the South, the front porch evolved into a symbol of community, hospitality and friendliness
So the front porch is essentially an architectural manifestation of the power of approachability. And for the success of your professional performance, basic to all victory as an effective communicator is your ability to build these front porches between you, your employees and your customers.
What is a Front Porch?
I define a front porch as any object or behavior that makes you more approachable. It can be built by anyone, anytime, anywhere. As a writer and a speaker I often share stories and lessons from my front porch, which happens to be a nametag. I wear it all day, every day to encourage people to be friendlier and more approachable.
Although nametags get a bad rap, they possess tremendous interpersonal value. Their free offering of personal information encourages reciprocal self-disclosure, which builds trust and rapport. So now, let’s examine how nametags will allow you, your employees and you customers to harness the power of approachability and empower successful communication and service.
Walmart was the first business to require all its employees to wear nametags. Sam Walton created this initiative because he wanted his customers to “get to know the people they bought from.” But the value of employee nametags spans far beyond getting to know people, it’s all about being approachable – in other words, inviting customers to step onto your front porch. So whether you work in retail, hospitality, food service or sales, to wear a nametag is to be on stage. To be on stage is to be ready to serve your customers. And to be ready to serve your customers is to do your job effectively.
Here are the five advantages to wearing nametags in the workplace:
1. Accessibility: A nametag makes it easier for customers to gain the attention of an employee from whom they need service. Without it, the customers will either find someone else to help them, or won’t get what they need.
2. Comfort: When it comes to retail, the number one rule is “make a friend in thirty seconds.” The quickest and surest way to do this is to inform and remind customers of your employees’ names. This promotes self-disclosure and creates comfort in the conversation. And when you put your customers at ease, the sales process will be more personable.
3. Synergy: Let’s face it: people are terrible with names. It’s the single context of human memory most apt to be forgotten. Ironically, it’s the one word humans like to hear than anything else. So especially for organizations with hundreds of employees, nametags for your teammates will only ease their pain and contribute to a synergized workplace.
4. Ambassadors: A nametag immediately identifies employees as ambassadors of the company. As such, it keeps them accountable for their behavior while they wear it and promotes good word of mouth for the business. It will also make them walk their talk. Ask someone who works in real estate, they wear nametags every day! Some agents even wear two nametags: one on their shirt and another magnetized to the side of their car!
5. Branding: Your nametag is just like your company’s billboard. (Except it’s free and people will actually look at it for more than four seconds!) So, when customers or clients work with your employees, they will be exposed to your corporate culture constantly. As a result your nametag turns into an effective medium for free advertising! Remember, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
Next, it is important to remember your nametag is your best friend. However it’s useless and ineffective if it’s designed and worn without careful consideration. Here are some designing and wearing rules that will help you maximize the approachability of your front porch.
The Power of Approachability
In order to achieve the highest levels of performance success, you must begin with effective interpersonal communication. You must welcome people onto your front porch. With properly designed and implemented nametags, you can begin to synergize your employees and make your customers feel more comfortable. And as a result, you will discover that no other facet of communication is more important than the power of approachability.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s your company’s front porch?