Which action – complaint or appreciation – are you more likely to take?
1. Writing a letter of complaint to a company or asking to speak to the manager about an employee who gave you bad service; or perhaps broadcasting your grievances on Yelp or other social media to warn others to steer clear of the less-than-perfect service that you received at this establishment?
2. Writing a letter of appreciation to a company, recognizing an individual who treated you with above-and-beyond customer service; or sharing your delight on Facebook, Yelp or other social media, with the secret desire to help this particular business grow and prosper?
Let’s be honest…
I’d like to think that I am more prone to action #2, but it’s a lot more convenient to complain than to compliment.
You might be someone who frequently says “thank you” and who believes in the power of words of affirmation. You’ve seen how a simple smile can change someone’s day, or how an extra generous tip makes a big difference to a wait staff person.
How often do we go well out of our way to recognize excellence?
This weekend, my friend Bill Terry shared a personal story that motivated me to write this week’s motivating networking tip.
The upshot of his story is that because he took the time to write a letter of thanks to an airline, complimenting the service he received from a customer service agent at the airport (after his flight was cancelled), she was hired as a full time employee and moved up her career ladder.
Bill could have just said “thank you,” and “have a nice evening.” But Bill went the extra mile, by recalling her full name (from her name badge) and taking the time to type a letter to the airline management. He found the airline’s address for customer response letters. He filled out an envelope, stuck on a first class stamp, and posted his letter of appreciation in a good-old-fashioned mail box. All of these actions Bill took, not knowing what would come of this effort. Would it really matter?
Yes! It mattered.
The next week Bill was back at the airport flying out of town again. He saw the same customer service agent. He waved to her as he walked by to his gate. She chased him down to say “thank you for writing that letter.” She proudly pointed to her new company badge. She had been working as a contractor, but the airline management had hired her as a full time employee as a result of receiving Bill’s letter.
Imagine how good Bill felt, knowing that his simple act of kindness and appreciation had made such a material difference in someone’s career and life!
Good work often goes unnoticed
We live in a consumer culture of high expectations and low appreciation.
If it doesn’t blow our minds, we are not completely satisfied. We brace ourselves for bad experiences and under performance (especially at the airport!) And yes, it’s a lot easier and more convenient to complain about service, than to praise the efforts made.
After all, misery does love company, and smiling requires the exertion of facial muscles.
But what would happen if we provided positive reinforcement after positive encounters? What if people took more time to praise in public, and let their momentary dissatisfaction dissolve like the small stuff that it mostly is?
How would this change our daily experience and interactions with others?
Put this idea into action
Think of someone with whom you have had a recent positive experience in the service arena. Were you pleased with your interaction? Were you happy with the service and help that they provided to you? Did they make you smile on a day that otherwise would have been gloomy?
Perhaps it was a retail clerk at a boutique that you like to frequent. Or the lady at your local grocery store who has been serving you for years and you don’t even really know her, but count on her to get your order right each and every time (and offer you as much savings as possible). Perhaps it is the customer service person whom you see when you take your car in for a service or repair.
Now exercise your power of positivity. Take a few minutes to research the name and address of that person’s boss. Call the business if you can’t find the information you need on line.
Take 5 minutes of your busy day to say thank you and to recognize the person who gave you this notable service. You are writing the letter to the person’s manager in hopes that your written feedback might positively influence their career, job, wages, opportunity, etc. Perhaps it will only result in an attaboy, but that’s good stuff too. Perhaps it will go in their personnel file to be called up at review time.
You may never know what impact your letter will have, but your actions have value because it makes you feel good too. Writing such a letter will leave you in a better mood – a more positive state.
I believe that small acts of kindness, words of affirmation and acting on appreciation, in both small ways and in large ways, can go a long way toward improving our experiences – the way we lives our daily lives.