Gratitude is a powerful emotion, and can have a profound impact on a business and corporate culture. After all, everyone likes to be appreciated, and a successful company must learn to acknowledge and thank the people who helped to create that success. So it is important to remember that, as you build your business, you also foster a culture of gratitude and use it to set yourself apart from your competitors. Not only will this mission of thanksgiving lead to repeat customers, it will also help keep the office running as efficiently as possible. The trick, however, is building this culture organically and ingraining it into nearly every aspect of your business.
Build up to your customers
It is really easy to say thank you, and a lot harder to actually mean it. “Thank you” has morphed into a casual greeting, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean you have to work a lot harder to show your customers that you appreciate them. Much of this work will be through customer service – what better way to show that you appreciate someone’s business than by doing everything you can to ensure their experience with your company is as good as it can possibly be? This is easy to do when your company is small and you have a lot of face-time with your customers, but as you hire more employees a gulf will begin to form. Your employees become the face of your company, and if you want them to be honest and grateful with your customers, they need to feel appreciated first. That is why I recommend building up to your customers.
Start with your employees
Just like with your customers, when you are a small business, it is easy to make your employees feel appreciated – after all, you’ll probably be working right next to them most of the time. Saying thank you, or acknowledging how much work they’ve been doing, does a lot to boost office morale. A 2012 study on employee engagement found that the most highly engaged, efficient, and hard-working employees were those that felt enthused about the company, and supported by the management. As time goes on and the business grows, however, it becomes a lot harder to make sure your employees feel supported and appreciated. It is up to you to be as open and transparent as you can be. Communicate with your staff, and continue to thank them for their hard work. Your gratitude should flow from you, down through your employees, until it reaches the customers.
Don’t commoditize gratitude
Faster rarely means better, especially when it comes to saying thank you. It is very important that, when creating this culture of gratitude, you not turn gratefulness into a business commodity. Don’t ask your employees to read a pre-scripted thank you message or send out the exact same thank-you card every time they help a bigger client. Yes, it may be easy to buy a box of thank you cards and print the same message in every one of them, but you aren’t really showing any sort of personalized gratitude that way. You are just doing the bare minimum of a nicety, and your customers and clients will realize that. “Thank you’s” should be an organic, true form of gratitude, and your customers will respond to the gesture more than they would to five copies of the same thank-you card.
Building a grateful corporate culture won’t be easy, and it really shouldn’t be. While it’s unfortunate that the term “thank you” has lost much of its meaning, it is up to you to go the extra mile to ensure your customers, and your employees, feel appreciated in the meantime. That means being as open, honest, and grateful as you possibly can. By showing your gratitude whenever possible, and avoiding cheap gestures, your business will have that gratitude built into it organically. And that refreshingly honest approach to gratitude will do a lot to help inspire your employees and provide your company plenty of repeat business.