Giving Thanks for Customers, Employees & All That is Good

In the craziness of everyday life, it’s easy to forget about the good things that are happening all around us. How often do you focus on the things you haven’t done? You think about the phone calls you didn’t get to, the orders that didn’t ship out today, the presentation you still need to finish.

And then you listen to the news, which rarely ever makes you feel better about your situation.  I know you listen because I hear your conversations around me. The housing market! Gas prices! Heidi and Seal’s children! Oh the horrors!

Take this moment, this day, this month to focus on giving THANKS for all the good that IS in your life. Pay attention to what the people around you are doing RIGHT. Look for and praise the employee who shows up on time and takes initiative. Say thank you to her. Think about all the good clients you have, the ones you enjoy talking to and working for. Let them know they’re special. Recognize the effort that your vendor makes when you absolutely, positively have to have your order shipped out today. Tell them you value their heroic effort.

I recently read an article that suggested people don’t say thank you because they’re afraid that if they do, somewhere down the line they’ll be asked to “pay up”. For example, if you recognize an employee’s efforts, you’ll have to give him a raise. But the writer went on to point out that if you think about the times when you’ve been thanked, you’ll realize you are not then mentally figuring out how much the other person owes you. That’s just not how appreciation works.

While you’re at it, take some time to show some appreciation to yourself. Maybe you didn’t get everything crossed off your list this week, but give yourself credit for what you DID accomplish. Here’s a nice pat on the back.

Tis The Season To Spread A Little Joy Among Retail Clerks

The elves and I have been super busy packing holiday orders, so when I saw this article by my associate Ross Reck on his blog, I thought it was so very kind of Ross to write something that would save me from having to write my own post today. 🙂 Remember, my friends, show a little kindness and gratitude for the clerks!

This is the time of the year when retail clerks catch a lot of undeserved verbal abuse from the people they’re trying to serve.  Stores are crowded, people are in a hurry, check-out lines are long and tempers are short.  Under these circumstances, a kind word or gesture from you can brighten a retail clerk’s day.

I read where one person carried small packets of M&M’s in his pocket to give to clerks as he was going through the check-out process.  He would simply put it in their hand and say, “I hope your day is going well.”  Showing an interest in their welfare can also brighten their day.  During last year’s holiday season, I was checking out in a grocery store and I asked the clerk how her day was going.

She responded with, “Wow!  Somebody asking me how my day is going; now there’s a switch!”  We then proceeded to have a very pleasant conversation.  Several days later, I was back at that same grocery store and the check-out lines were long.  That same clerk spotted me and said, “I’ll open my register for you. Come with me.”  I then let her know how much I appreciated her kindness.  She looked at me and said, “We always remember the nice ones.”  So, take the time to spread a little joy among retail clerks this holiday season.  It will brighten their day and yours as well.

Dr. Ross Reck is the coauthor of Instant Turnaround!, REVVED! and the best selling The Win-Win Negotiator.  He is also the author of Turning Your Customers into Your Sales Force, The X-Factor and his very popular newsletter:  Ross Reck’s Weekly Reminder.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Clients

Many business people traditionally send holiday gifts as their way of showing appreciation for clients, customers, partners, etc. For those who like the idea of concierge service, gourmet food treats and making a great impression, this video offers some nice gift ideas. Look for the special offer at the end!

Why Bad Manners are Good for Business

You might have lots of stories in which you are the recipient of poor treatment and bad manners. I wouldn’t be surprised, as it seems like common courtesies have gone the way of the mimeograph. Maybe you can even laugh at some of those instances now. But is it possible for bad manners to be good news for your business?

The answer is YES and here’s how. Since so few people are using good manners these days, they’ve become a great way to differentiate yourself in business (and life in general). Showing appreciation and saying thank you when people do something nice for you helps you stand out. It puts you head and shoulders above the competition.

Everyone likes to be acknowledged and feel valued. It’s a basic human need and no one gets too much. So if you can provide it – in addition to whatever product or service you’re in business to deliver – you are sure to attract more business. The more customers who love you, the more word-of-mouth and referrals you get and it becomes a beautiful cycle of growth.

Remember the last time you made an effort to say thank you to someone? I mean a sincere effort, not a quickly sent off, one line email. What did you do? Mail a handwritten thank you note? Deliver a bouquet of flowers? Send a gourmet care package or basket?

What kind of response did you get? First of all, YOU probably felt pretty good because doing a good deed benefits your well-being too. And then you probably got a phone call or some type of excited or grateful thank you for saying thank you. Even if you didn’t, it’s a safe bet to say you made a positive impact on the recipient.

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So go ahead world, be rude! We’ll just use your lack of manners to our own advantage.

Grateful on National Girlfriends Day

August 1 is National Girlfriends Day, as in your BFFs, not the romantic boyfriend/girlfriend version. How do you show appreciation for your valuable female friendships? Take few minutes to think about who your best girlfriends have been over the years and what they’ve contributed to your life. Starting with my very first girlfriend, pictured here* – our parents became friends when we were infants and Beth and I remain friends to this day – I am grateful for all the encouragement and advice and conversations and laughter my girlfriends have shared.

Last week I reconnected via Facebook with my best friend, Jen, from 7th grade. Her family moved before high school and we lost touch. Within a day, we were on the phone for over an hour and it’s amazing how much we’ve grown in common.

I think women typically tend to be more apt to express their appreciation for friendships than men. And more than one study has shown women rely more heavily on their friendships to get them through tough times as well.

As much as I love hanging out with my guy friends, nothing beats a good conversation with a close girlfriend. Guys can get uncomfortable if you’re talking about something that makes you cry. Girlfriends just hand you a tissue and let you go on. Then there are the topics guys will never be able to relate to (just as there are guy conversations we will never “get”).

So thank you to all my magnificent girlfriends! I’m fortunate that the list is long and spans great geographical distances, so long that I dare not post it here, lest I inadvertently forget one. Know that I am eternally grateful to you for the incredible gifts you’ve each presented, the ones that could only have come from you being the amazing person you are.

Post a comment and share a story about one of your girlfriends!

*This pic is from a few years ago. I attempted to find one of the two of us “back in the day,” but came up empty handed.

Customer Experience Lessons

I’ve been a subscriber to Derek William’s ezine, The WOW Awards, as well as a great proponent of his whole  concept of “Catching People Doing Things Right,” for quite a while. Loved reading about his recent experience at Wagamama’s restaurant and had to share it with you. (He lives in the UK, in case you’ve not heard of Wagamama’s before – I hadn’t.)

Wagamama – communication lesson # 1
A recent trip to Wagamama’s restaurant produced some interesting experiences. We arrived at about 9.30 pm – after the main rush of people was over. This particular restaurant is always busy and lots of people must have eaten that evening before us. Maybe even hundreds.

Wagamama have a greeter to show guests to their table. And as I approached the desk, I asked the greeter, “How are you today?”

“WOW!” she says. “You are the first person all evening to ask me how I am.”

I could see that she was delighted to be asked and had an extra spring in her step as she showed us to a table and took our drinks order.

Many years ago when I wrote 3 Dimensional Care, I devoted a chapter to Getting an extra slice of the pie. And, guess what? It was all about getting better service in a restaurant. And here it was in real life.

Did we get better service through asking that one little question? Would you give a customer better service if they took an interest in you?

Wagamama – lesson #2
The second interesting experience at Wagamama came when I settled the bill and added a tip to the credit card payment.

My daughter works in a restaurant and relies on her tips. So my wife and I always wonder if the tip we give at a restaurant is going to the person who served us or is it going to the owner of the business.

After the waitress had processed our payment she came back to our table and said, “Thank you so much for the tip. It really is appreciated and I just wanted to let you know that it will be shared between all of us.”

Many of the things that are a worry for your customers have nothing to do with the food. Understand the questions that are never asked and you will win customers for life.

FYI, this article was reproduced with permission from Derek William at The WOW! Awards

Employee Appreciation Time

EmployeeAppNow is a good time to remember and appreciate the employees who are working so hard for your company’s success. It’s the time of year when school’s out and any holidays that generate good will and celebration are few and far between. This year, many companies are asking fewer employees to make do with less resources. Which is why it’s the perfect time to show some gratitude for your people.

I just read an article about businesses in New England using food to reward employees. The article itself wasn’t all that great, so I won’t provide you with a link. But there was a quote in it from Paul Baard, a communications professor at Fordham University who researches workplace motivation. He said, food “appeals to our need for relatedness.”

Yes, people need to feel connected. They need to feel part of a community. They need to know that what they are doing day in and day out on behalf of your company is relevant.

Giving food gifts, or “breaking bread” with others, has always been an important and personal form of recognition. It offers a level of genuine connection that cannot be achieved through any other means. So make an investment in the well being of your employees (and your company overall) and show some gratitude.

What Need Do You Fill?

The sole reason a business exists is because it meets a human need. ~Harvey Firestone

I saw this quote over the weekend and it got me to thinking, again, about what human need a box of cookies fulfills. Yes, we’ve been over this before. That Gratitude Cookies are not so much about the cookie part and much more about the concept of gratitude.

Is feeling gratitude an actual need? It’s not specifically on Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but friendship, giving and receiving love, and recognition are on his chart. Feeling connected to others is certainly a human need. And expressing appreciation is one important way to connect.

Keith Ferrazzi was on Good Morning America today, promoting his new book “Who’s Got Your Back” and his 16-city road show. He said that 75% of Americans don’t feel that someone’s got their back; not even married couples. Wow, that’s a lot of disconnected people. Furthermore, he says that the most important thing you can do to succeed is to build deep and trusting relationships.

So then, if you could create stronger connections in your personal or profession life and satisfy that need in yourself and for others, why wouldn’t you? You have a great opportunity here! No matter what other human need your business exists to fulfill, you can improve your business by addressing this one of connection and recognition through gratitude.

You Never Know Who’s Listening

Last week on my trip back from California to Florida, I ran into a colleague from my Execs’ Association in the Atlanta airport. He was returning from Austin and we were on the same flight to West Palm. It was funny because last year a similar thing happened in Dallas with another Execs’ colleague. And on my flight out to LA two weeks ago, I sat next to someone who ended up being at the same workshop I was attending. And then at lunch one day, I was talking about Nikki Incandela with my lunch partner, only to turn around and see Nikki sitting at the table behind me. She said she hadn’t heard me, but no matter because I was saying good things about her!

I find it fascinating how the universe arranges things. You never know who’s around you and who’s listening to your conversations. Which is exactly why it’s so important to make sure you wouldn’t mind being overheard or having the person you might be talking about hear whatever you’re saying. Goes back to that quote your grandmother may have said about “if you don’t have something nice to say…”

This whole idea fits right in with what my friend and mentor Bob Burg promotes all the time. And it’s no wonder that in return, I’ve only heard raving praise for Bob from others.

So this week, think about who might be hearing your offline conversations or seeing your online ones and remember to only say what you wouldn’t mind hearing repeated somewhere.

Seasonal Gratitude

Before we close out 2008, I had to write one end of the year post. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the past several weeks.

Throughout November and December, I’ve been receiving emails and reading articles all over the place about the importance of gratitude during this holiday season. I’m sure you’ve seen them too. Gratitude and appreciation are the “in” things this time of year.

However, gratitude and appreciation are really important throughout the year too. Research shows being grateful everyday improves health, keeps you happier and strengthens relationships.

I encourage you to resolve that in 2009, you’ll acknowledge and express more gratitude, even for small things. Connect more regularly with the people you value – in your business and personal life – and let them know what they mean to you.

Best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and fun new year!