Show appreciation to get most out of customers, employees, suppliers

Quinton Douman

Quinton Douman

On Father’s Day last year, my then eight-year-old daughter gave me a hand-written card that said, ‘Happy Father’s Day Daddy, you are the best.’ I said to her “Demi, thank you so much my angel, there is no gift in this world that could possibly give me the joy that this hand-written card just gave me.”

Guess what her next move was? She went upstairs and wrote me another one.

This year on Father’s Day, the sequence of events was almost identical: she gave me the card, I expressed my appreciation, and again she went back to her room to outdo her previous efforts. She took a stack of pink Post-It notes, wrote cute messages on them and placed them all around the house, ensuring that I had a constant reminder of how much she loves me. How cute is that?

It is true: people who feel appreciated always do more.

I wonder if perhaps this is one of the biggest missed opportunities in business today. As a customer, I reflect: I have been banking with Standard Bank since 1998. I have also had the same financial advisor for the last five years, and since the introduction of mobile phones, I have had only two mobile numbers, both with the same provider, MTN.

All three of these businesses, are – in my opinion – good businesses, but none of them has managed to convert me from a customer into a raving fan.

These companies are missing a huge opportunity to appreciate their customers. Like many of you, I have received messages from them when I missed a payment; I have received flyers from them regarding new offers or products, but never have I received a call or a text thanking me.

Let’s expand on the example of MTN: I have no reason to change providers right now, partly because there is no compelling reason to go to Vodacom or Cell C and partly because it’s just convenient to keep things the way they are.

MTN announced early this year that they will be focusing on building new revenue streams. For this to work in their favour they will need a client base that is made up of more than just people who tolerate them. Now is the time to ensure that the people who have been loyal to them are appreciated. If this part is left out of their planning, they may find themselves in a situation where they have new offerings or products and nobody to sell them to.

People who feel appreciated do more. So ask yourself: Have you left money on the table in your business because your clients did not feel appreciated? Are you perhaps missing out on great service from your suppliers for the same reason? Would your team perform better if everyone felt appreciated?

Saying thank you seems so elementary and so obvious – almost too simple – but it can change the trajectory of a business.

It’s the last stretch of 2016, and if you want more out of your customers, suppliers and your team, make sure that they feel appreciated.

In the spirit of gratitude, thank you for taking the time to read my articles, and thanks to all of you who respond every week with your comments and ideas. It is welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Quinton Douman is the Managing Director of 212 Business Consulting, as well as a public speaker. He is one of only two South Africans to have graduated from the Bill Gove School of Professional Speaking.