The October issue of Fast Company included an article by Dan & Chip Heath entitled “I Love You. Now What?” They argue that while businesses have an efficient means of handling customer complaints, they are generally lousy when it comes to making it easy for customer compliments to get to the right people.
Examples the Heath brother cite include the compliment you have about the meal that will never make it back to the cook. The note you write about how much you appreciate the extra-deep automobile cup holder will never be read by the engineer who actually designed it. The article goes on to highlight the effects that expressing gratitude have on the giver, and that one point alone makes the article well worth reading. It can be found here.
The sentence that struck me most was, “What is your company doing to let gratitude blossom?” Perhaps an even more pointed question for each of us is, “What am I doing to let gratitude blossom?”
The article spotlighted an idea from American Airlines, pre-printed “Applause” cards given to frequent flyers who had reached “elite” status. The customer, provided he happened to be carrying the card with him, could write a quite note and hand it to any employee who had demonstrated a praise-worthy act.
The idea American Airlines idea is interesting, but do we really have to reach any particular status or be given a set number of special cards in order to do basically the same thing? Anywhere I go, I always have a few business cards with me. It takes only a few seconds to jot a note on the back of one of them and leave it on the table for an especially good member of the wait staff or ask someone to pass the card note along to the chef or whoever needs to realize that their talents have been appreciated. Charles Hobbs would call that “throwing golden bricks.” I think I have gotten better about that sort of thing and have worked with a very good role model for the last couple of years.
As we approach another Thanksgiving, there is perhaps no better time to examine the importance of gratitude in our culture. The post for the 24th, “Ambiguity and Gratitude,” argues that choice to embrace gratitude was a deciding force in shaping American history.