By Shep Hyken

I recently received a note from my friend and Shepard Letter subscriber, Michael Staenberg. He commented on the recent Never, Never, Never Be Late article and sent a list of what he referred to as Things that Require Zero Talent. At the top of the list was being on time.  

I’ve seen lists like this before. They include being on time, having a good work ethic and a positive attitude, doing more than expected, and more.  

I did a little research and found similar lists that included all those mentioned above and others including being coachable, smiling, saying please and thank you, being nice, doing what you say, etc. 

Of course, we can keep adding to this list, but I started thinking that many of these ideas really don’t require true talent or skill. They are just common sense, which, unfortunately, isn’t always so common. It’s about being present, as in in-the-moment, and realizing what you can, can’t, should, or shouldn’t do. They aren’t about talent.    

In my latest book, I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again and Again I cover the concept of being nice. It seems like it should be so easy, and it is to some degree. I joke that I’ve written eight books on being nice. After all, isn’t that a big part of customer service? If you run a restaurant that has great food, but you treat your customers – and employees, for that matter – the opposite of nice, there’s a pretty good chance nobody is coming back. Being nice is foundational, and from there, you can build skills around it.  

Being nice, like many other traits on this Zero Talent list, are about the right attitude. Does it take talent to have the right attitude? Not really, but it does take mindset and effort. You have to be aware of the opportunity to and make an effort to put it into practice.  

That word practice is interesting. It implies that if you practice something, again and again, you get better at it. Some say, “Practice makes perfect,” but that isn’t necessarily the case here. You practice these traits, so you do them without thinking. In other words, practicing what’s on the Zero Talent list is about creating habits. 

Oxford Dictionary defines the word habit as a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone you did business with – and everyone who worked with you – practiced these Zero Talent habits? They are a big part of why customers say, “I’ll be back!”