Lessons from the USA – why success is a bi-product of good service

Having just spent a week in the US, I realise that we can learn a few lessons from our American cousins when it comes to attitude, positivity and success – both in business and daily life.

My eldest daughter graduated this summer from Washington Jefferson University and started her first job a few months later, working for a niche US recruitment firm. She is intent on living the American dream, working hard, living well and earning her residency in due course.

Be grateful

For every week that she works she accrues a few hours’ holiday. It really focuses the mind to earn time off and makes me realise how lucky we are in the UK with the generous annual leave and benefit allocations we receive. Many of us who have worked in corporate life absolutely take this for granted. I observe how grateful she felt to have earned a full day’s leave to spend time with us. Being grateful for the simple things is very life enriching.

At a really basic level it has to be said that everyone in the States is generally upbeat, respectful and consciously wishing you a great day throughout the whole day. There is something really lovely about this. Whether it’s genuine or not, it sets you up in a positive frame of mind for the day ahead.

Give good service

Positivity from the outset surely optimises success and personal satisfaction for whatever you are doing that day. I notice how the waitress at breakfast constantly smiles and checks in that everything is okay. She is no different from any of us working on commission, living off the generosity of satisfied customers and working just as hard whether you’re a regular or a passer-by.  She is incredibly conscientious in her desire to give good service.

I also couldn’t help but notice how estate agency works State-side. There are ‘For Sale’ boards everywhere, accompanied by the name and photo of the agent who is overseeing that listing.

You may think that this is agents’ egos running riot, but US estate agency is all about people, personalities and the individual (both agent and client), rather than big impersonal brands.

The individual agent is powered by the brand and the brand is grateful to have him or her in their fold, something that is often the opposite in the UK.

Be client centric

Sales Associates flex their schedules around their clients’ and customers’ needs. Everything is client and customer centric. They work zero contract hours and earn big commission cuts for their efforts. Their black book of contacts stretches far and wide and is undoubtedly key to their success.

UK agency is already headed towards the international model. It’s surprising that it has taken so long for this style to embed but perhaps is reflective of how hard it is to let go of old habits and traditions. The online effort has also prompted the carve up of UK agency.

One thing is certain, it’s all about agency personalities now, the well-seasoned and effective individual who has mastered his or her art through years of practise. Most big brands still have a few, but as these individuals ascend the corporate ladder, they often become less visible, more tangled up internally, which is a far cry from what the customer actually wants.

Contentment brings personal success

There’s something to be said about being grateful and conscious about the small things and the way in which you go about your day and really notice what’s going on around you; it somehow grounds you and frames your mind positively towards others and yourself.

We all like to feel valued for our contribution and to feel that we’ve done a good job.   It’s natural to seek harmonious working relationships and in what I do, it’s critical because there are often less than harmonious obstacles to overcome.

The cheerful US waitress taught me that it’s important to smile and feel grateful for the opportunity to help someone, and in turn, how satisfying it is to put a smile on your client’s face for having done your job well.  This positivity and contentment must surely bring success…because ultimately, success is a bi-product of good service.