Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
Have you ever missed an opportunity to provide a compliment? Perhaps viewing it as optional? I have. And when I do, it’s usually my wife who points it out. Maybe I’ve overlooked her new haircut or the way she keeps a household of six on track. It’s easy to become complacent in this area and, instead of communicating appreciation, convey indifference or apathy.
We do the same with customers. One statistic I read suggested that 68 percent of customers quit doing business with a company due to perceived indifference towards them as customers.
The author Leo Buscaglia wrote, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
You may be thinking that “…have the potential to turn a life around” sounds a bit dramatic. If, for example, you work in the retail industry and miss an opportunity to compliment a customer on her choice of handbags, life goes on. But consider the field of healthcare and the positive effects that compliments have on patients.
Earlier today I was reading the book, Love Your Patients by Scott Louis Diering, M.D. and came across the following passage:
“One of the nicest gifts we can give anyone is a compliment. A compliment does not cost us anything, is easy to prepare, and shows our patients that we have taken the time to recognize them as special.
For example, when someone is in pain, it is nice to recognize their tolerance. We can say, “You must be very strong to tolerate that!” Or, “You are better than I am, I would be crying!” Or, “You could give lessons on how to manage pain!” Our compliments show our admiration for their pain tolerance.
We can compliment our patients for anything, but compliments about their own healthy behaviors are always good. For example, we can compliment them on their recall for their medical history, their blood sugar log, or their initiative to come in to see us.
Further, praising our patient’s healthy behaviors is a reinforcer for those behaviors. If we reinforce something, it is more likely to occur in the future. And, if we ignore their good behaviors, those good behaviors are less likely to occur again.”
Complimenting customers or patients will help to make the personal customer service you provide more memorable. But remember that co-workers are customers too. They deserve the same type of affirmation and recognition. For more on the topic of recognition, read this light-hearted post titled, Effective recognition is not pi in the sky!
So, while the opportunity to offer a sincere and specific compliment may not present itself during every customer service interaction, just be on the lookout for those opportunities to genuinely recognize the customers you serve.
They will feel better and so will you. As the author J.M. Barrie observed, “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”