Author Melody Beattie once noted that:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. “
I’ve taken the liberty of extending Melody’s quote by suggesting in the context of business, “Gratitude turns shoppers into future buyers, and first-time buyers into repeat customers.”
Many people suggest that in a consumer-driven marketplace fueled by an abundance of choice, global competition, and scads of voices reviewing and critiquing products and services there aren’t many ways to truly stand out from the competition.
As has been the case, I suspect from the beginning of commerce – authentic gratitude has and will be one of those differentiators. Growing up in a small town in Colorado, I remember how my parents refused to frequent a chain grocery store that entered our region, choosing instead to continue to go to a small local market. It seemed to me that the “bigger and newer” store was just as convenient, had more options to choose from, and in retrospect probably was less expensive. My parents, however, felt that to the supermarket chain, “We were nothing”. But to the corner store, “We mattered. They cared that we came in, and appreciated our business.”
Clearly, appreciation alone does not a successful business make, BUT it is a “retro” concept worthy of consideration. With increased automation (self-serve kiosks and online transactions struggle to communicate gratitude) there is a ripe opportunity to create differentiation as the “grateful” brand. In my company, The Michelli Experience “gratitude” has been a core value since our inception. It is not a strategy but is a quality we hire for, and something we reinforce through business rituals. For example, we express gratitude at the beginning of every meeting for team members who have gone the extra mile for a customer and we make donations to social causes in honor of and gratitude for our customers.
My father once said, “Tell me who you hang out with and I will tell you who you are.” I am grateful to be hanging out with a grateful team. We understand that we owe a debt of gratitude to every person who takes the time to consider us. We also owe a debt of gratitude to those who give us a chance to serve them – as their business feeds our families.
As we come out of a boisterous and vitriolic political season where anger, name-calling, and polarization became commonplace I am grateful for this Thanksgiving season. Hopefully, it will help us all recalibrate and do far more than simply crafting a cursory list of our blessings. Maybe, just maybe, it will inspire us to express our gratitude authentically in words and actions toward one another, our teams, and our customers.
Thanks for reading – Happy Thanksgiving!