Every time I travel I witness something that sparks a new blog post. My trip to Kansas City to speak at the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Business Equality Conference was no different. What an experience! I’ve heard that this chamber was doing some great things so it was really exciting to see it in person, meet members, build stronger connections and make new friends. I presented on the topic of ‘How to be a Face for Change as an Ally’ through proper communications. Always a fun topic!
As I was waiting to depart from Hartford I was watching another flight board. The flight was full so they had to check bags at the gate because there was no overhead bin space left. Naturally, as a passenger, when you don’t check in your rolling carry on, your expectation is that you are going to bring it on board and place it in the overhead bin. I had a carry on too but as I heard the flight attendants for my flight announcing they needed volunteers to check theirs, I happily did. I took a moment, reorganized and sent it on its way to meet me in Kanas City. When I arrived at the airport my expectation was that I would be carrying on my baggage. It’s simple and easily changeable but it is an expectation no less.
So when I watched a man running with a rolling carry on to the plane just as they are about to close the doors I knew this was going to get interesting. I watched as two flight attendants tried explaining to him on multiple occasions that he could not bring his bag with him, he had to check it. He didn’t want to hear that – at all – his expectation was – I didn’t check my bag when I entered why should I have to do it now. Since he was late to board he was not around during the 30 minute boarding process when the flight crew was announcing it was a full flight and this was going to occur. So his expectation and the reality were different. He was quite the unhappy traveler mumbling and swearing as he reluctantly checked his bag.
It only takes 60 seconds to ruin your reputation
Now let’s tie this seemingly unrelated experience to your LGBT initiatives. If you are active in the LGBT community, networking, building business relationships, attracting new LGBT customers – you are setting an expectation. An expectation that your company or you personally are open for business for the LGBT community. You are setting the expectation that someone from the LGBT community does not need to worry when they enter your business. So what happens when reality strikes and they are treated differently? Treated like an outsider? On the receiving end of a disparaging comment? Or they are asked to fill out paperwork that blantantly omits them? Perhaps a document that says husband and wife? (Read more on that here.)
You are essentially obliterating their expectation of what they thought of you and your business. This is precisely why it is so important that your entire company be trained on how to effectively communicate to your LGBT customers. Ultimately this is where so many companies and organizations fall short. They put a lot of time, effort and money into attracting their desired LGBT customer and as soon as an untrained employee opens their mouth with something negative, offensive or inappropriate, within moments they’ve reset the expectation of your business – something you’ve worked so hard to create.
Marketing is pointless if your organization doesn’t know how to communicate
Remember, putting together a beautiful marketing campaign to attract your desired LGBT consumer is only part of the plan – you need to ensure that everyone is properly trained on how to communicate effectively with the LGBT consumers you have walking in the door, landing on your website or calling you on the phone. For more ways to understand how to go about this check out my Amazon Best Selling book, “No, wait… You do look gay! The 7 Mistakes Preventing you from Selling to the $830 Billion LGBT Community.”