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Happy Thanksgiving! Showing Gratitude to All Those Who Make Your Business Possible Jodi Beuder

tgiving Happy Thanksgiving! Showing Gratitude to All Those Who Make Your Business Possible With the busiest time of year fast approach­ing, it is easy to over­look the hol­i­days that book­end the sea­son. In the may­hem of adding more staff, squeez­ing in addi­tional train­ing, and going over new pro­to­cols, it is some­times easy to for­get what the sea­son is about: grat­i­tude. You don’t need me to remind you of the impor­tance of show­ing grat­i­tude through­out the year, but today we’ll focus on four ways to show grat­i­tude to all those who make your busi­ness pos­si­ble, namely your employ­ees and customers.

As busi­nesses seek out more effi­cient ways to remain com­pet­i­tive, some­times what gets over­looked are the per­sonal touches that are so impor­tant to cus­tomer and employee reten­tion.  It is no longer enough to sim­ply deliver cus­tomer ser­vice in a cour­te­ous and prompt man­ner.  Forg­ing last­ing rela­tion­ships with cus­tomers and employ­ees requires a gen­uine emo­tional con­nec­tion, with grat­i­tude at its core. With our 24/7 teth­ers to tech­nol­ogy, a human con­nec­tion becomes increas­ingly impor­tant.  The under­ly­ing theme in the fol­low­ing four tips is authen­tic­ity. If your efforts aren’t authen­tic then they’ll ring hol­low and your efforts will be for naught.

Tip #1—Emotionally Connecting

Thank­ing your cus­tomers is dif­fer­ent than express­ing heart­felt grat­i­tude. Say­ing “thank you” at the close of a trans­ac­tion is a com­mon cour­tesy, not a gen­uine expres­sion of grat­i­tude.  To express grat­i­tude is to ele­vate the cus­tomer ser­vice expe­ri­ence to a busi­ness strat­egy that can be woven into your com­pany cul­ture. Cus­tomer reten­tion goes hand-in-hand with a com­pany cul­ture that rec­og­nizes the impor­tance of cus­tomers being acknowl­edged, thanked, and rec­og­nized for their loyal patronage.

The same holds true with employ­ees. Happy, loyal employ­ees lead to happy and loyal customers.

Cre­at­ing suc­cess­ful cus­tomer appre­ci­a­tion pro­grams hinges on authen­tic cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. Cus­tomers can eas­ily sniff out thinly dis­guised mer­chan­dis­ing pro­grams designed to gen­er­ate sales, so it’s impor­tant that your appre­ci­a­tion pro­gram is per­son­al­ized and gen­uine.  Some ways to offer per­son­al­ized care include:

  • Going off-script—Give agents the auton­omy to con­nect with their cus­tomers by hav­ing a conversation
  • Using people’s names—Using a person’s name lets them know you’re focused on them as an individual
  • Writ­ing hand­writ­ten notes—Whether employee or cus­tomer, a quick hand­writ­ten note lets them know they are impor­tant enough to merit a few min­utes of your time to express your appreciation
  • Com­mu­ni­cate with a smile—Speaking with a smile sets a pos­i­tive tone and even if you can’t be seen, your atti­tude can be detected

Tip #2— Acknowl­edg­ing Com­plaints with Gratitude

While deal­ing with com­plaints may not seem to have an obvi­ous cor­re­la­tion with grat­i­tude, it does. Cus­tomer com­plaints pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties to turn them into pos­i­tives and learn where ser­vice gaps may exist. If the cus­tomer has taken the time to com­plain, it’s impor­tant to take the time to respond, and quickly. Some sim­ple ques­tions to keep in mind when some­one com­plains are:

  • How can this com­plaint help us improve our ser­vice or product?
  • Was there a gap in our ser­vice that our cus­tomer just identified?
  • How can we learn from this com­plaint and add value to the customer’s experience?

Being on the receiv­ing end of cus­tomer com­plaints is no easy job. Agents who spend their day dif­fus­ing cus­tomer com­plaints feel the toll of being on the front-line. When man­agers take the time to acknowl­edge the chal­lenge inher­ent with the job and show their grat­i­tude for a job well done, the employee feels appre­ci­ated, which makes doing a good job eas­ier. Grat­i­tude flows both direc­tions: from man­ager to employee, from employee to cus­tomer and ulti­mately from cus­tomer to company.

Tip #3—Open and Hon­est Communication

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing openly and hon­estly cre­ates a level of trust that allows mes­sages of grat­i­tude to be taken to heart.  If con­ver­sa­tions are passive-aggressive, then your mes­sages of appre­ci­a­tion will be dis­missed. Hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion needs to hap­pen between man­ager and employee and employee and cus­tomer.  It is okay to say, “I don’t know” rather than give an answer that you can’t be account­able for. Train­ing is essen­tial to teach employ­ees how to say “I don’t know, but let me find the answer for you.”  Cus­tomers would rather hear the truth than be pla­cated and dis­ap­pointed in the end. When com­mu­ni­ca­tion is open and hon­est, our words then mean some­thing, which builds trust and leads to a more authen­tic expe­ri­ence.  Even if the mes­sage con­tains a crit­i­cism, if a cul­ture of trust is in place then these crit­i­cisms can be heard and acted on know­ing there is no hid­den agenda.

Zap­pos has posted their core beliefs on their web­site, and belief num­ber six states: “Fun­da­men­tally, we believe that open­ness and hon­esty make for the best rela­tion­ships because that leads to trust and faith.”  Zap­pos is often rec­og­nized as one of the top busi­nesses in deliv­er­ing excel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice and cre­at­ing a cul­ture of respect and loy­alty amongst its employ­ees, so rather than re-invent the wheel, why not fol­low in a suc­cess­ful business’s footsteps!

Tip #4—Reward

There is no get­ting around the fact that loyal cus­tomers expect some perks for stick­ing with your com­pany or prod­uct. Loy­alty pro­grams are a great way to let your cus­tomers know that their busi­ness is val­ued.  Suc­cess­ful loy­alty pro­grams don’t take a scat­ter­shot approach, nor do they rely solely on dis­counts. The idea behind loy­alty pro­grams is to fos­ter and encour­age a long-term rela­tion­ship with your best cus­tomers. Phys­i­cal prizes or earned bonuses have more impact with cus­tomers rather than a dis­count.  Your loy­alty pro­gram should dove­tail with your over­all brand strat­egy, so cus­tomers are given a rea­son to return to your busi­ness or prod­uct, even if they don’t need it.

If your loy­alty rewards pro­gram is built on accu­mu­lat­ing points, make sure that redemp­tion isn’t cum­ber­some or com­pli­cated. If there are too many hur­dles your efforts may back­fire and leave the cus­tomer feel­ing frus­trated rather than flattered.

Loy­alty pro­grams built off met­rics that track buy­ing pat­terns will help you iden­tify those cus­tomers who mat­ter most to your bot­tom line. It’s eas­ier to retain a cus­tomer than try and woo a new one, so use these met­rics to learn who your most loyal cus­tomers are and then reward them appropriately.

Some of the best places to work are those where teams are grate­ful for what they receive and aren’t afraid to express sin­cere ap­preciation when­ever it is mer­ited. The health­i­est places to work are those where indi­vid­u­als, no mat­ter what their posi­tion, accept and give com­pli­ments grace­fully with­out second-guessing the moti­va­tion.  When cus­tomers are rec­og­nized and feel appre­ci­ated for their con­tin­ued patron­age, they remain loyal. When busi­nesses seek to expand team and indi­vid­ual grat­i­tude and gra­cious­ness, the work envi­ron­ment becomes health­ier. Neg­a­tiv­ity slips away, employ­ees feel appre­ci­ated, cus­tomers feel val­ued and your efforts will be reflected in the bot­tom line.

Jodi Beuder, Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Advo­cate at Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, believes cus­tomer ser­vice exists not just out­side the com­pany, but inside, too.. “To me, cus­tomer suc­cess starts before any con­ver­sa­tion and ends long after. It begins with pos­i­tive brand­ing and mes­sag­ing, in order to get the cus­tomer to the door. Cus­tomer engage­ment is moti­vat­ing and edu­ca­tional, and trans­ac­tions are easy and user-friendly. Cus­tomer suc­cess ends with the cus­tomer return­ing to that expe­ri­ence again.” With over 20 years in Mar­ket­ing Exec­u­tive roles, Jodi has ded­i­cated her career to assist­ing com­pa­nies grow their brand pres­ence and sales, and most impor­tantly, their cus­tomer reten­tion and satisfaction.
27 Happy Thanksgiving! Showing Gratitude to All Those Who Make Your Business Possible
Jodi Beuder
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