After reading Robert Palmatier’s research on relationship marketing and hearing so much about how companies are now using this in the B2C marketplace, I ran across an insightful piece from Fast Company. Written by columnists and Made to Stick authors Dan Heath & Chip Heath, the article poses a really good question: “Why do companies make it so hard for us to say thank you to the right people?
The Fast Company article predates the hoopla created when Hyatt Hotels created its customer thanks program this year. Heath & Heath push (hard) for the idea of bringing active thankfulness a step further.

“Suppose there were some way to lower the transaction costs of a thank-you so much that praise became effortless?”

They continue, “Think of those obnoxious engaged couples who skip around Macy’s with UPC scanners, zapping waffle irons and cutlery for their registry. What if there were some ways to zap the cup holder in your car, or the quesadilla on your plate, and instantly deliver a thank-you to the people who count?”
Aren’t there a zillion times you’ve walked out of a meeting with colleagues, or suppliers, or customers, when someone really, really lightened your load, and you want to show your gratitude?  Give them a *huge* “Thank You!”?
Guess what? There are companies that have it figured out.
These companies make it easy for customers to praise their employees.  Doesn’t that makes sense?  If customers show their gratitude for a job-well-done it means a lot.  The employee’s boss finds out in the process.  The with-it boss piles on the “thank you”, and what do you have?  The perfect storm that makes employees feel great.
Exhibit A:  American Airlines runs a program called “Rounds of Applause.” The Program enables American Advantage frequent flyers to give a personalized certificate to AA employees who go the extra mile.
Exhibit B: Anyone who travels by highway has seen those signs on trucks asking, “How’s my Driving? Kelmar Safety runs this “How’s My Driving?” for companies with driving fleets in industries including trucking, law enforcement, education and delivery services. It encourages feedback from the public, which in turn provides some positive comments for employees.
Exhibit C: Internet appliance and electronics retailer is using social networking site Twitter to get customer feedback about its customer Web experience.
Some business to consumer companies, through their culture and way they relate to customers, generate feedback without even solicitation. One  example is Wisconsin-based Lands’ End ( part of Sears Holdings) which at one time had a band of employees who volunteered to read and respond to customer letters and emails. The benefit was mutual for the customer and employee in creating loyalty and that intangible feeling that one gets from making a difference.
Know of any other company that has a good customer praise program for employees?
We’d love to hear about it!

Rick Kiley is President of gThankYou, LLC, based in Madison, WI.  gThankYou® Certificates of Gratitude™ are one way savvy companies demonstrate commitment to employees’ great work. The company is best known for its Turkey Gift Certificates, Ham Gift Certificates, and Grocery Gift Cards.

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Step 1

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