May 14, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude

I have seen a lot of articles lately about how to "recession-proof" your business. Oddly, most of the suggestions are things that every business should be doing all the time anyway.

One that I have noticed a LOT lately is gratitude - or at least the verbal illusion of it. I think that society is generally NOT good at showing gratitude to one another. Maybe that's why I'm noticing it so much all of a sudden.

This morning, I stopped by a convenience store near my home to pick up a soda on my way to do errands. I hadn't been in since last Fall because it's not really on my way to anywhere but I happened to be going by today so I stopped. The owner has always been a nice guy but today, he was almost over-the-top. When I asked when they had remodeled, he said, "Last December" and I said, "Gosh, I haven't stopped by for a while". Then he gushed about how GRATEFUL he was that I stopped in today. It was almost odd.

Then at lunch, I met a group of friends and we went to Claim Jumper by the large mall in our area. The hostess who seated us said, "Thank you so much for choosing Claim Jumper for lunch today". We've been to Claim Jumper many times but no one has ever thanked us SO PROFUSELY for coming in. Unfortunately, their actions spoke louder than their words. We finally had to go on a fishing expedition to find someone to take our order after waiting for 25 minutes.

Of course, the flip-side of this coin (no pun intended) is businesses who look as desperate as I get the feeling they really are. A credit card processor I used to have an account with and closed 3 years ago, emailed me last night demanding 70 cents that I didn't even know that I owed them. They claim they have tried to collect many times already and will turn me over to collections if I don't pay up.

I'm taping 2 quarters and 2 dimes to the inside of an envelope today and sending it off. They never tried to collect and they never told me I had anything owing when I closed the account. It just makes them look desperate to essentially be digging in the couch for change. Hopefully my 70 cents will keep the lights on for 2 more minutes.

Businesses shouldn't be thanking customers because times are tough for them - they should be thanking customers in the best of times and the worst of times. They also should not do things that anger people in an effort to survive. They should be managing the good and bad of their business 365 days a year - no matter what the year looks like. Customers don't want to feel patronized or shaken down over the state of the economy. Treat your customers well and work with them ALL the time - not just during tough times.

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