When Beretta, my Great Dane therapy dog, and I visit a hospital on one of our weekly visits, he knows the routine.
He walks into the nurse’s station and meets the recreational therapist who works with us. She accompanies us on our rounds. By now, Beretta knows what to expect. He visits patients in about twenty rooms. The hallways are always bustling with activity, but the rooms are usually quite quiet, which is where he prefers to spend his time.
As we walk down the hall, Beretta noses into the first doorway he finds open—even partially. For such a big guy, he makes no noise when he walks, so we have to announce our arrival.
“You have a visitor. Someone is here to see you,” we say. Often a surprised look turns to a smile on the face of the patient.
And Beretta continues to the bedside. Still, not a sound has been uttered by the dog. Yet, he seems to communicate a sense of respect and appreciation for his new acquaintance.
And so the conversation starts. The patient asks Beretta how he is and if he would like his ears scratched. We hear about the pets the patients have—or had. There is often comparison in size with Beretta always being the biggest.
But the initiation of this conversation is what indicates that we care. We are interested. We initiate conversations because we want to hear the patients’ stories. These meaningful conversations engage the patients. We want to learn what matters to these folks.
In businesses today, meaningful conversations between the company employees and the customers have the same importance as the conversations Beretta and I have with patients. Customers want to know that businesses care about them—as individuals. The customers want to know that businesses value their opinions and are interested in building a long-term relationship.
Conversations may take place at the place of business, but they are also expanding on to mobile devices and on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. These conversations tell businesses what matters to customers. Such interactions help businesses with brand lift and relevance.
Just as Beretta is contributing to the well-being of patients, veterans, and workplace employees, businesses need to demonstrate how they contribute to the well-being of today’s society and the world in which we live.