Can You Create a Culture of Appreciation?

William James, the great American psychologist once said that “the greatest of human needs is the need for appreciation.” Wow – he was really on the right track with that one!

Whether we are talking about personal or business relationships we all crave appreciation. We all want to know we are valued. We all want to know when we’re doing a great job, and that what we do really matters. Appreciation celebrates the relationship and gives it the positive energy it needs to grow and thrive. When it comes to the customer, sincere expressions of appreciation make them feel good about their choice to spend their money with you. (One of the sincerest forms of appreciation is your willingness to make it really EASY for the customer to do business with you.)

More than ever before, customers are emotionally attached to their money. Each purchase is considered, thought about and chosen for its particular perceived value. When you deliver on the value dimensions that are important to them, you make a positive emotional impact on that customer – leaving them feeling happy, delighted, pleasantly surprised, secure, safe and relaxed. Customers (and employees) that feel good about you are more likely to return and say good things to friends.

Your great prices and quality products may get them in the door, but the quality of the relationship you build with them after the fact is what will keep them singing your praises and coming back for me.

“Thank you for calling”, “Thank you for holding”, “Thank you for waiting”, “Thank you for coming in, we appreciate it!” “Thanks for your input, we really appreciated your perspective and ideas.” “Thanks for letting us know about the gap in our service – we love your feedback.”

Sincere expressions of appreciation go a long way to build big emotional bank accounts with customers (internal ones as well as external ones) helping to increase the pleasure (or maybe just the pleasantness) in the interaction.

Science now tells us that positive emotions – like appreciation – create many positive effects in the body. Appreciation changes our heart rate variability, blood chemistry and brain patterns for the better. (Anger and frustration change them too – for the worse.)

Here are nine simple yet powerful things you can DO to increase the level of heartfelt appreciation at work.

  1. Start and/or end a meeting by asking each individual to express appreciation. (That could sound like, “Before we start, let’s all share something that happened since our last meeting that you are grateful for, or something you really appreciate.”)
  2. Make it a point to find someone doing something right, something in alignment with the organization’s mission and tell them how much you appreciate that.
  3. Tell every customer you deal with that you sincerely appreciate their business – and mean it.
  4. Figure out what the lifetime value of the customer is to the company and share that number with all those who take care of the customers, so if they somehow can’t appreciate them for who they are, perhaps they can appreciate them for what they are worth to the company. Some people need to see that light bulb go on before they get it.
  5. Send three handwritten cards a day expressing your appreciation to employees, customers and/or suppliers.
  6. Keep a gratitude journal at work and keep it in a prominent place. Encourage people to write down the things – big and little – for which they are grateful.
  7. Create a few holidays – Customer Appreciation Days, Employee Appreciation Days even Family Appreciation Days (saying “Thank you” for all the time people get to spend at work.)
  8. Set an intention each day, “Today I will look for things to appreciate” and remind yourself of that intention throughout the day. Guess what? You will find more things to appreciate.
  9. Acknowledge a job well done by affirming the person’s effort, intent and result – get beyond the “attaboy” and dig deeper to compliment, amplify and anchor someone’s strengths.

Small deliberate gestures to build a culture of appreciation will pay you back with positive, tangible results. Just like money can appreciate when invested well, relationships grow and thrive when we infuse our culture with this positive emotion.

I appreciate you. Thank you for reading my article.

© 2010 – 2014, JoAnna Brandi. All rights reserved.