i recently struck up a conversation with the kind gentleman accepting my returns at target. it was a bizarre transaction since i was exchanging 16 sports bras for a cart full of paper products. when you volunteer for a theater company you just never know what you’re going to be buying and bringing back. i thanked him profusely as he patiently scanned in the bar code of each bra, checking it against my receipt. he seemed surprised at the gratitude, which made me feel sad. come to find out, it’s rare for customers to exercise their freedom to give feedback when things are going well. “typcially,” he said, “the only time anyone comments on our customer service is when they find it lacking.”
i thought about this all day. isn’t it grievously true that too often we save our comments for complaining? we may enjoy seven fantastic meals and only think to actually talk about the one we hated. we’re quick to return our “not quite to the perfect temperature” latte and yet never think to look into our barista’s eyes to thank them for doing the job they do. we enjoy clean bathrooms yet look away when those that make them so are pulling their cart in or out of the door and we only ask to speak to the manager when we are dissatisfied.
i am making a commitment to give comments of another sort this month. when i speak with a customer service rep of any kind on the phone and they simply engage with me efficiently, i’m asking to be transferred to their manager so that i can sing their praises. i’m taking 60 seconds to fill out comment cards and list peoples’ names that have helped me. when a manager is present i’m walking over to them and pointing at the amazing clerk and saying, “fantastic job you did hiring that wonderful person there! way to go!” i’m looking the person who pumps my gas (we can’t pump our own in oregon...i know...weird...) in the eye and saying, “what you do matters. thank you so much!” and i’m leaving notes and tips in my hotel rooms thanking those that clean and tidy.
i am determined to give gifts that matter and gifts that last. gifts that are loud and bold enough to counter the criticisms usually spoken with little regard for their lasting effects. for gifts of graciousness build up and grow into graciousness in return.