A simple “thank you,” delivered with sincere appreciation and gratitude, has the power to transform almost any aspect of your business. Because businesses are made up of people serving other people, and people have a universal need to know they matter.
1. Transforming team behavior.
“Your staff isn’t feeling appreciated.” I knew this would come as a surprise to the client, and it did. “I tell them ‘thank you’ every single day,” she shot back.
She did. Every day after their end-of-day debrief meeting, she said, “Thanks everyone, see you tomorrow.”
But her casual clichéd way of ending the day wasn’t going very far toward showing her gratitude for a job well done. In fact, since she said it every single day with exactly the same words, in exactly the same tone of voice, whether their performance had been stellar, mediocre or barely acceptable, it meant worse than nothing. To them, it showed that her expression of appreciation was on auto-pilot. She wasn’t really paying attention to their efforts at all.
I challenged her to find time every day to connect one-on-one with just one of member of her team and share her appreciation. At first she had to make cryptic notes on her schedule to remember who to talk to each day. Within a couple of weeks it became natural to recognize both efforts and results as they happened. I didn’t hear any more from her team about not feeling appreciated, and the increase in both the energy and the numbers made their end-of-day debrief meetings a much more pleasant experience for me and everyone else.
2. Transforming client behavior.
No one said customer service was ever easy. After all, your job is to deal with problems, and people who have problems, all day long. In fact, one of the traps of dealing with client problems all day is that you begin to see the client as the problem, which, of course, compounds the problem.
So I decided to try using the power of “thank you” to solve problems before they ever existed. The client I was working with already had a policy of giving the customer service staff a lot of discretion in doing whatever they needed to do to satisfy an unhappy customer. They could authorize discounts, or send gifts. But we all know that a discount or a gift might save the customer relationship, it doesn’t really resolve the issue or completely restore trust for most people.
So we gave the front line the same discretion to give discounts or send gifts “just because.” We challenged them to see each of their customer relationships as something to be thankful for and to express that gratitude as they saw fit. It was not to be based on the amount the customer spent, or the accounts they referred. It was to be used to tell a customer that their smile made someone’s day, or that their loyalty for five years, four months, and 21 days was appreciated.
It was no surprise to find that calls to customer service declined. The amount spent from the customer service discretionary fund went down too. And our customer service staff reported that many of the conversations they had were more pleasant, and problems more easily resolved.
Related: Five Ways to Show Customers You Care
3. Transforming your behavior.
I recently held a team call which included a new member of the team. I couldn’t help but notice that, while the other members of the team interacted and shared their appreciation for the contribution of others, this person only responded to those contributions that personally benefited him. He was eager to share about himself and his ideas, he was more than willing to ask for our assistance, but any updates or ideas that did not directly affect his personal success went without a response from him.
By contrast, that same day I had a call with someone who is highly connected and who had offered to make some introductions on my behalf. He generously gave me an hour of his time, listed a number of people who would have no reason to accept my calls without his willingness to vouch for me, and shared his wisdom on how to make an authentic connection with each of them when I called.
Do you know how many times he thanked me for my time? I don’t either, because I lost count. He wasn’t just being gracious, he’d taken the time with me because he believed in my project and he was sincerely grateful that I had asked him to help with my success.
You can guess which of those two people have long lines of people who would step up to help them in any way possible. An “attitude of gratitude” makes you a person people just naturally want to help.
Successful people don’t just show appreciation for their success. They gain success by showing their appreciation.