The First Rule of Good Customer Service Is…

We’ve all been on the receiving end of poor customer service and left feeling underappreciated and dissatisfied. Why is it, then, that we often can’t see how our own actions (or inaction) leave our customers feeling undervalued?

In my years of managing consumer affairs and public relations, the two most important guiding rules I’ve learned are the Golden one and the Gratitude one.
The Golden Rule was drilled into my head early: Treat others as you would like them to treat you. It’s solid, timeless advice, and something I aspire to apply to every interaction.

But it wasn’t until I entered the fundraising world that I really began to appreciate the Gratitude Rule and how important it is to both corporate and non-profit businesses.

Good fundraisers know that the simple act of saying thank you is one of the most important, yet often forgotten, tools in the fundraising tool box. Donors want to feel their contributions are recognized, so every communication should reflect appreciation for what donors have given, and for their interest and involvement in the cause.

To ignore the Gratitude Rule is to miss an opportunity to connect and build a relationship with clients.

Has this ever happened to you?

  • You thank the cashier for giving you back your change, even though you were never thanked for your purchase.
  • You offer your time and talents to an organization, but the response was tepid and left you feeling like you inconvenienced them.
  • You send honest, constructive feedback about your product experience directly to a company, but never receive a reply.

What if it went like this instead?

  • I bought these fabulous boots on sale and the folks at the store made a point of telling me they know I had many choices, so they really appreciated me choosing to shop with them.
  • I expressed interest in volunteering with a local non-profit, and while they didn’t have a Board opening right now, they told me how much they appreciated my passion and my contributions to our community.
  • I advised my favourite brand that I’m having trouble locating their product. They wrote back to tell me they’ve alerted their sales team, suggested other stores to try, and thanked me profusely for my loyalty.

The simple act of expressing gratitude can be the difference between leaving a client feeling indifferent about your business and building a lasting relationship that will bring you more business.

“Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones and repay greater ones — with ingratitude.” -Benjamin Franklin

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