William Arthur Ward, once said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” The essence of gratitude or the act of being thankful to customers within the business climate, largely impacts upon the brand perception and value. Having gratitude towards customers is not enough but investing the gratitude by way of expressing it helps improve the perception and affinity towards a brand.
NBC news, ran a story of a café in Nice called Le Petite Syrah, they would make customers who say “Thank You” and are generally polite pay less than customers who do not. The price of coffee in this café starts at 7 Euros and drops to 4.25 Euros, when a customer uses the word ‘Please.’ When the customer goes for the full, “Good morning, a coffee, please,” and the politeness discount reduces the price to about, 1.4 Euros. This development- inspired customers to be exceptionally polite and grateful in a bid to get coffee for free, and this totally transformed the attitude of customers as they became less rude, more polite and grateful due to the price reduction for good behaviour. Now, this is the business demanding the appropriate and appreciative behaviour from her customers.
The idea of gratitude investment is critical as customers feel empathy and value when their patronage is genuinely appreciated. On New Year’s Eve, before I got off the train, the driver in a very genuine and thoughtful tone enthused, “Thank you for travelling with southern and have a happy new year.” It was a simple thank you but was said in a very heartfelt manner- that made me feel he really meant what he said.
Gratitude investment, involves expressing genuine and thoughtful thank you to your customers. The premise of this approach is to help generate gratitude within the workforce or employees, this then transcends to the customers. It is very difficult to have a disgruntled and ungrateful workforce express gratitude genuinely to customers.
Research has showed that grateful people- feel better about life, exercise regularly, make progress in actualising personal goals, optimum degree of alertness and awareness, enthusiastic-optimistic-determined, they are more likely to help others. Steven Foran, Known as the ‘Gratitude Guy’ opines that this set of employees show a better attitude towards their employer, job and the customers. They positively impact upon loyalty and customer service- by exhibiting sincere and genuine care and empathy towards customers. Empathy is viewed as a messenger of care during and after the customer interaction.
Using my personal experience on New Year’s Eve, the train driver showed genuinely he cared about the passengers by wishing us a happy new year. That was the only train driver, of all the trains I boarded, close to the New Year that took out time to genuinely thank his passengers and wish them a happy new year. His tone of voice, pace of speech and demeanour was genuine, not robotic, sincere and intentional. I could tell this was an employee that had gratitude within him, as you could only give what you have. If an employee has ingratitude within them, they could only express a robotic and an insincere ‘Thank You’. Customers could sense when gratitude is being faked, acted upon or expressed in a robotic manner.
Let’s borrow a leaf from the French Cafe in Nice, Imagine as a brand or company, your customers pay £1 more on an item, whenever your staff says thank you or shows gratitude. I could only imagine, that your employees would use ‘Thank You’ at the start and the end of every sentence and would probably, keep the conversation long enough- to use more ‘Thank You’ and show more gratitude. This gesture or attitude would be robotic, insincere and exploitative in nature.
Gratitude investment is very critical to brand appreciation or depreciation. Remember the value of your brand is dependent upon the perception, emotions and inclination that customers have of your product and service. For brands to appreciate in value, businesses are required to show gratitude to their customer base in a very thoughtful and sincere manner. To achieve this goal, firstly, executives have to look inwards by facilitating employees to express gratitude in their personal life. Employees can only give or express what they have- gratitude within their personal lives would help them show thoughtful appreciation towards customers.
Suffice it then to say that, gratitude investment demands for businesses to show genuine interest in the well-being of their workforce- to ensuring they are making personal strides and express personal gratitude about life. When you coach and inspire your workforce to feel good about themselves, you are investing in gratitude, inspiring your team to extend such gratitude to your customers, and in-turn, your customers would uphold your brand in high esteem.