How Gratitude Can Improve Your Business

Why is it that over the past decade we have heard so much about the power of gratitude? Oprah has talked about it. Deepak has extolled its virtue. We’ve heard about it in church, at schools, and in the media. Where we don’t hear about it enough is in big business (or many businesses). And yet, it’s the single most important thing we can do to increase employee engagement, improve customer experience, and ramp up sales.

Why is this? Think about the last time you bought something. Maybe it was at a fast food restaurant, grocery store, or Target. When you thanked the clerk, what was their response? For me, 9 times out of 10 it’s, “You’re welcome.” It’s not that I don’t love Maui’s song. Now I often hear that song playing in my head when I hear it and I smile at the person who triggered it. But, I would rather have had the person say, “No, thank YOU.”

That’s what I used to teach in all my sales and service classes for the past 20+ years. If a customer is purchasing from you and says thank you, you DON’T say, “You’re welcome.”

You say, “No, thank YOU.”

Why am I a stickler about this? It’s because I know the power of gratitude. It reminds me that the company I work for (or own) is only in business because of the people who are willing to support it’s survival. That’s the customer.

If you are a leader (i.e. business executive or owner), you have more than the customer to thank each day. You need to thank your employees, contractors, vendors, and service providers for the work they do to keep your doors open and the lights on. Even if the people working for/with you make a mistake, thank them for the things they are doing right to keep your business going.

Yes, you’ll have to work on any errors, issues, or mistakes and help your employees improve. That’s a whole different topic. But it’s gratitude that is a free and easy reward to give each day.

Think back to when you worked for someone else. Maybe you are in that situation right now. How often do they thank you for your contribution and sacrifice? Do you hear it daily? Weekly? Annually (at review time)? Or NEVER?

Don’t be that kind of leader or boss. Be grateful and show appreciation. Here are some low-cost or free ways to do this:

  • Send a thank you email to your customer and don’t ask for an additional sale.
  • Send a quick thank you note, text message or email to your employee thanking them for how they handled a difficult client or for completing the project.
  • Allow your employee to have some paid time off without it affecting their PTO or vacation accrual. Even 1 hour early to make their kid’s school event can create long term good will.
  • Send additional information about how the product or service your customer purchased can be used… some little-known tool or trick.
  • Provide a small bonus. It can be a $5 Starbucks card or movie ticket. Both customers and employees would appreciate this little surprise.
  • Decorate their cube or office for their birthday or work anniversary.

If you aren’t used to showing gratitude in words, try the small gifts or time off. There are also great ideas on the web. Do a search for low cost ways to reward your employees or appreciate your customers. There’s plenty of unique and fun ideas out there.

But don’t discount the power of communication. Telling your employees, customers, and partners, whether in written or verbal form, how much their contribution matters to you and the company goes a long way.

As you deepen your relationship with these key folks, you’ll see your business continue to grow and thrive for years to come. As an added benefit? You’ll feel better about yourself in the process. Practice gratitude and see.

What have you done to show your gratitude lately? How do you reward or show appreciation (low cost or free) to your customers, employees or business partners?

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