The ROI of Receiving Customers' Thanks

In the article Is What Happens after "Thank You" Hurting YOUR Business?, I explained that employees who dismiss or trivialize customers' gratitude with responses like "No problem" or "Whatever" are doing a disservice to themselves, to their organizations, and to customers. In short, those types of responses are bad for business. Employers who want their customers to feel acknowledged and valued need to take some simple actions to reverse this situation, which has become the norm rather than the exception in the workplace.

Here are four no-cost steps to help teach your employees how to welcome your customers' thanks:

  1. Assess the situation to see if corrective action is necessary. For example, as the occasions arise, say "Thank you" to individual employees. Listen to their replies.

    A. If their responses are aligned with the message you want them to convey to your customers, recognize their efforts and keep up the good work! Go on to step 3.

    B. If their replies trivialize or brush off your attempts to recognize their efforts, it's time for some education. Consider step 2.

  2. Teach your employees the behaviors you want them to exhibit. Here is an example of how a conversation with an employee might go:

    A. When you take the time to help a customer, think about the impact of your actions on that person. There is a very high probability that you have made that customer's life easier, safer, less stressful, or more joy- filled. Acknowledge the recognition that you are receiving for improving the individual's quality of life.

    B. Take the time to allow the customer to express his/her thanks fully. Do not interrupt. Engage in active listening.

    C. Reply "You're welcome" and stop talking. Do not downplay your effort - even if you thought it was minimal.

  3. Hold your employees accountable for engaging in the appropriate behaviors. Here are some ways that managers can reinforce the desired behaviors:

    A. Have frequent conversations with employees about why allowing others to express their thanks is an important customer service issue.

    B. Help them see the situation from the customers' point of view.

    C. Point out specific examples of the behaviors you want to reinforce.

    D. Conduct role plays.

  4. Recognize employees' successful efforts appropriately.

While not all customers will express their appreciation, many will. By actively welcoming the thanks that are offered, employees have an opportunity to be recognized for their efforts as well as satisfy your customers' need to be heard. The ROI (return on investment) for this simple response is huge for everyone involved.

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.

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