Have you ever gone out of your way to make someone feel special?
When Daniel and I were involved in KindActs, a local Random Acts of Kindness Foundation chapter, it was our mission to spread the word on how powerful acts of kindness can be on others.
It’s a subject I’m passionate about because growing up was not easy for me. I was bullied at home and at school where I received, on a daily basis, very convincing messages that I was a freak, insignificant, and unworthy.
A recent birthday celebration reminded me of my 16th birthday when I was feeling all of those things. I remember my Mom presented a frozen McCain cake with the birthday candles on it. Message I received: I’m not worth the bother of baking a cake. (Back then, cakes were typically home baked, not bought, especially not frozen ones!) I recall my brother’s gift was an unwrapped, opened can of tennis balls with a bow stuck on top for good measure.
Now before you question why my childhood trauma has anything to do with your business, bear with me, there’s a point to my story. After you finish reading, you will have a clear understanding on how kindness and making people feel special can make a huge impact on your business success.
Back to my birthday… once the obligatory birthday song and cake eating was out of the way, I was left to watch TV by myself.
By now, being a teenager once yourself, I’m going to assume you are aware of my state of mind at this point. I was feeling pretty worthless and wallowing with the fact that there were very few people in my life who cared that I was born. A bit melodramatic? Of course, I was a teenager!
But then an act of kindness happened that changed everything.
My brother’s friends Simon and Dan showed up and noticed the half eaten cake and saw that it was my birthday. Keep in mind these guys were four and five years older than me and I was just Kelly’s kid sister so there was no expectation of anything from them but what they did next turned my gloom into absolute joy.
They immediately got into celebration mode and sat beside me on the couch, put their arms around me and sang “happy birthday” as loudly as they could.
For that moment I felt special… that someone cared. My smile couldn’t have been any bigger.
I’ll never forget it for as long as I live.
I guess you’re wondering what does that have to do with business?
Create Lifelong Customers At An Emotional Level
People don’t forget when someone else makes them feel special and as a business owner, isn’t that what you want? For people to not forget about you?
Doing a quick Google search reveals lots of reports that support how acts of kindness positively affects business growth.
Henry Mason, head of research and analytics for TrendWatching.com, says: “For consumers long used to — and annoyed by — distant, inflexible, self-serving corporations, any acts of kindness by brands will be gratefully received. For brands, increasingly open communications, both with and between consumers (especially online), means it’s never been easier to surprise and delight audiences; whether sending gifts, responding to publicly-expressed moods or just showing that they care.”
With that in mind, when was the last time you purposely performed an act of kindness for a client, prospect or associate and showed them that you cared?
Kindness Doesn’t Have To be Extravagant
Over the past couple of Christmases, the WestJet airline has conducted extravagant acts of kindness where they interviewed people at the airport and asked what they hoped Santa would bring them that year. When the passengers arrived at their destination, their “wish list” gifts were there waiting for them!
How cool is that? Sure, it was all done for publicity but you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone say something negative about the WestJet brand after witnessing an act of kindness like that.
But not all business budgets can accommodate such an enormous gesture so buying presents for airline passengers aside, here’s some ideas you can use to make someone feel special in your day-to-day business activities:
- When you know someone is having a bad day (thanks to social media, this information can be readily available) send them flowers, a chocolate bar or even just an e-card letting them know you’re thinking of them.
- The next time a client calls you on the phone, make them feel special by asking them something about their life that you remember from a previous conversation.
- Create a “Client Appreciation Day” and do something at a local level or virtually to give thanks back to the people who have been supporting your business.
- The next time a prospective customer contacts you, make them feel special by letting them know how truly honoured you are that they reached out to you.
- Find opportunities to give compliments to anyone you meet throughout the day.
- The next time you go to a networking event, go with the intention of making as many people as possible feel special.
Then watch what happens; both to you personally as well as professionally.
People don’t forget how special you make them feel. Ever.
These are just a minor sampling of ideas that you can incorporate to your company culture and whether they do business with you (again) or not, your actions could very well make a similar impact on them that Simon and Dan did on me. That alone makes it very much worthwhile.
What Acts Of Kindness Look Like
When I was a Mary Kay consultant, it was drilled into us during new consultant training to pretend everyone we met had a sticker on their forehead that said, “make me feel special.”
A great business example of this was when I was working at an answering service years ago. Each year our boss had us submit a list of our favorite clients. (And guess what? Those names were submitted because THEY made US feel special each time we answered the phone.) After compiling the list, each favorite client received a can of mixed nuts in the mail with a thank you card telling them that we were “nuts” about them.
Do you think they felt special receiving that small act of kindness package? You bet they did.
My father-in-law had an incredible knack of making people feel special. His incessant curiosity about everything that was going on in your life left a long-lasting sense of feeling respected, revered and heard.
On my daughter’s 10th birthday, a real estate agent that I only knew on a casual basis delivered a huge balloon bouquet to our door. That act of kindness was never forgotten by either of us.
When Daniel and I recently stayed at the Grand hotel in Kelowna to celebrate his birthday, they unexpectedly delivered a bottle of Champagne and box of chocolate covered almonds to our door. That was treating us special all right.
You Can Do This Too In Your Business
A recent consumer poll by Edelman, and Young & Rubicam says 71 percent of people will support companies whose values are similar to theirs.
When you make someone feel special, the wonderful ripple effect and potential this has is far-reaching in many different ways for both you and the recipient.
People will remember you far more when they see your values are in alignment with their own. And when they’re ready for your product or service, you will be the person they go to. The word of mouth effect will also be huge: they will be the ones who refer others to you. They will become your biggest cheerleaders.
So make an effort to have kindness be a constant part of how you do business. Think of ways you can make people feel special and your returns will not only make you feel amazing each time, but your business will prosper as well.
And by the way, not only did Simon and Dan make my 16th birthday the best ever, Simon returned a few days later with a belated happy birthday card in hand. I’m pretty sure I decided to marry him right then and there. Too bad I was only sixteen though! Yeah, he qualified for sainthood in my books.