What your business can learn from people watching

Published · 3 min read

For some people, their guilty pleasure may be a fine wine or decadent chocolate, but for me it is people watching.

I love to watch what people do, and more importantly what they don’t do. Observing what they don’t do can often lead me to great lessons, for both life and business.

For example, there are two competitive banks situated right across the street from each other that I pass by several times per week.

Bank one is very considerate of the needs of its customers and potential customers. It has several picnic tables with umbrellas to keep out the sun. To use this seating, you don’t have to be a customer of the bank, or even the building that the bank resides in.

The second bank has gone through a renovation and changed the way they provide service to their clients as well as the type of furniture they use. They have stools that are set up right at the teller booths.

I typically go by this bank four days a week and I have yet to see someone actually sit on a stool. In fact, I imagine some customers may feel this gets in their way.

If you need to spend that much time speaking to someone in the bank, you probably should move to an office area where you can sit down and deal with a staff member who can better assist your needs, rather than take up time at the teller area, where other customers are waiting to get in and out fast.

Even more interesting to me about this particular bank is the area that they have designed for their customers who do want to have a private or longer conversation, or perhaps meet with another type of staff member such as a personal financial advisor.

In that scenario, they have designed seating where you are sitting on a type of bench, and have to turn sideways to face the person you are speaking with. What you might not be able to get from this picture is that you are actually facing their computer, as it is set up right in front of the bench.

So you have to look at the computer to the employee. The first time I saw this, I thought if this was me sitting here then I would feel like I am at the Principal’s Office, in grade school.

Not only is it not very private, but I can imagine not very comfortable to be sitting there for some time. Interestingly, the employee has a more comfortable chair!

Back to bank one, notice in this final picture, a group of construction workers that were on a job site just on the corner where that bank is located.

construction workers outside

Here they were enjoying a few minutes shaded from the sun on a hot day during summer. Maybe some of them are already customers of this bank, but if not, perhaps the bank has won over some new business.

It might amaze you what you can learn by paying particularly close attention to what you see and experience around you while watching other people and watching businesses in operation. Like me, you may gain insights that you had never realized or noticed before, that might be applicable to your business, no matter what size, industry, location or product/service you are offering the marketplace.

Points to ponder:

  • Where in your business right now are you making it easy and comfortable for your clients to do business with you?
  • What changes can you implement so that clients enjoy engaging with you and your staff – no matter what type of business you are in?
  • Think back to times when you have either witnessed or had to deal with a company where it was not a comfortable experience, and what can you take away from that engagement?

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