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Why are entire call centers built to handle customer complaints, yet virtually no organized way to express thank you?

First off, did you know you could download a Kindle App for PC’s, MACs, or smartphones? I didn’t. Here is the link here. The links to download your various devices are right above the list of apps that are sold. So don’t be led astray, your free kindle download is above the list.

So, as per a suggestion from my extremely smart and well read brother Mark, (And relatively new to twitter, so go follow him at @markwc) I downloaded a free book of essays entitled “The Myth of the Garage” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. EXCELLENT article on showing gratitude. The point the Heaths make is this: In America alone there are 2.7 MILLION call center employees whose sole mission is to handle disgruntled, dissatisfied customers. The infrastructure to support the callers is immense, state of the art call tracking software, top of the line phone systems. The reps are professional, personable, and you know that the feedback is getting to the right sources. That’s a lot of families getting paid off of us complaining.

But on the other side, have you ever tried to show gratitude? Does a “thank you line” exist, with any company? Let’s say you enjoy a stake dinner. You compliment the server, and do you really think the compliment gets to the right person? Do you think it might be dilluted before it is delivered, and be a watered down version, resembling something like “Hey, a customer likes this.”

The point is, while there are multi-million dollar ways to receive complaints, there is virtually nothing to receive thank yous. This is especially remarkable when as the Heaths said:

“This is an economic issue as well as an emotional one: In a survey of 10,000 employees from the 1,000 largest companies, 40% of workers cited “lack of recognition” as a key reason for leaving a job.”  Taken from The Myth of The Garage–essay 3 entitled “I love you. Now what?”

Sure, there are online surveys. But few companies do them, and those that do, don’t do them correctly or personably. There are comment boxes… but those are taken as a joke.  As a business owner, I want an official way to give thanks to my specific employees, and I want those thanks to be delivered to them directly.

And we all know how showing gratitude makes us feel, from a previous post…

So go out and do it. Find a way to make sure that the right gratitude gets to the right person. Don’t just tell the waiter, write down the note. Tell him it is for the creator of that steak. And do it!


Leave a comment


  1. To me, the reason is obvious: in a transaction, both parties are required to deliver something. The customer gives cash; the company provides a working product. Both have given and received a “fair” deal, or at least a deal they have sought, which deems it fair.

    Why a thank you? Should the customer be thanking the company for giving what they were paid to give? Should the company be thanking the customer for paying what they agreed to pay?

    On the other hand, complaint centers are set up to deal with the situation where the customer doesn’t believe they have gotten what they paid for. It’s there to compensate for a failure on the company’s part, or at least a perceived failure. It’s there as remedy.

    If the customer were to have a similar failure, it would be known as theft, and the police would arrest them.

    So why a thank you? Both have already said “thank you” by providing what was bargained for.

    (And, frankly, when I start getting thank yous in the mail, or any other way other than the “thank you” from the clerk as I walk away, I start to think the company is struggling and trying to get customers back…)

    • Craig

       /  December 1, 2011

      I’ll answer with this. Every now and again, you seem to get MORE than what was expected or bargained for–and in those moments maybe a thank you is appropriate.

      When you pay for your steak, are you paying for just the steak, or did you pay for steak and exceptional service? Does the exceptional service deserve recognition? That’s why you tip, right? Probably a thank you isn’t required, you got what was bargained for, and tipped the extra service.

      But let’s say you drop your car off to get the oil change. While there, you complain about poor airflow from the heater vents on these cold December days. When you go pick up the keys, the manager says, “one of my new guys wanted to see if he could fix your air-flow problem, and cleared out about a quart of leaves and debris from your air filter. Should work better.” You go to your car, test it out, and sure enough, warm as sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace. What then? Someone obviously did something above and beyond the agreed transaction. Do you send a thank you card?

      I think there are plenty of transactions where I’d be happy if there were a convenient way to deliver a sincere thank you to someone who goes above and beyond.

      But I agree. The generic thank you card during my annual renewal from my insurance agent doesn’t strike me as a sincere thank you.

  2. I LOVE THIS ARTICLE… and being that we are in the social world we are in-that has seemingly lost the meaning of “social” (aka MANNERS and congeniality) when the anonymity of the INTERNET graced our halls 10+ years ago… I think getting back to the basics and the sincere gesture of the kind gratitude we saw in the “olden days” is far overdue. Perhaps Daniel B. suffers from a bit of “entitlement mentality”- that all things in life are a “transaction.” No more, no less… if you’re not thanking your customers, you’re not building relationships.

  3. I don’t know, but every time you call customer service, say “I love you” to end your call and see if the person says, “I love you, too.”


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