I was hopping around the net just now and found a quote on the Conversation Agent blog that says:
“Receiving isn’t easy. If it were, more of us would do it with grace and gratitude. Is there a way to change that? Can we learn to receive so we can be nourished and empowered? These are crucial questions, not just because the holiday season is a time when giving and receiving are part of our daily experience. The ability to receive is, in fact, essential to physical health, psychological balance and spiritual engagement.” [Ode magazine, The Art of Receiving]
That quote reminded me of a story I heard about a month ago. I was chatting with a member of the audience after a Make or Break Customer Relations workshop and he told me of a great restaurant experience he had. The evening was so enjoyable that he sought out the manager to say thank you for the helpful, friendly staff that made the evening so special.
“I was amazed because the owner assumed I sought him out to complain. I assured him that wasn’t the case and the owner, clearly in shock, confessed that he’d never had a customer come to tell him about a great experience. In fact, he went on and on about how often he heard the bad stories and what a shock it was to hear something good.”
My friend told me how sad it was that people didn’t take the time to share thanks with management when they have a good experience.
Two things stuck me as I listened to the story:
1. Are there really that many bad stories that reach the owner? If so – I’d be taking a closer look at my staff as they interact with customers. Sometimes when the manager is absent or in the back office, the customer/employee experiences are less than they might be if the owner was visible and actively participating in the business. If you only hear the bad stories, wouldn’t you start to wonder? Think about how many people don’t take the time to tell you when they are less than satisfied. What brand image are you projecting to the community?
2. Just say ‘thank you.” I would like to think the owner was exaggerating when they said they’d never heard a positive comment before. But even if that is the case – just say thank you. There’s no need to show surprise, even if you are surprised. Humbly accept the gratitude from the customer and make sure you let the appropriate employees know how well they were received.
As owners or managers sometimes the bad stories seem to over shadow all of the good we do for our customers and on a particularly bad day it may in fact seem like all we hear is bad news. And it is true that people are more likely to share their complaints rather than take the time to offer a heartfelt thanks.
However, on the occasion when someone does tell you about a great experience, accept with grace and appreciation.
Just say “thank you.”