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The lost art of gratitude

Posted by Kelly Ann McKercher in financial services, human behaviour, service design, user experience on September 17, 2014.

Gratitude gap diagram

1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

I recently switched to BNZ. A month after joining, a lovely fellow called to check if everything was going well. To my surprise and delight, he paused at the end of the call and said:

“Just one more thing, I wanted to sincerely thank you for banking with BNZ, I really appreciate it”.

For a moment, he made me feel like BNZ’s most important customer. A stark contrast to many service experiences where a hurried, inauthentic ‘thanks’ is given or no thanks at all.

The power of a simple, sincere thank you

We recognise that many things can make it difficult for staff to deliver a sincere ‘thank you’, whether it be over the phone, or in person. E.g. lack of time permitted to spend with customers, incentives to meet aggressive sales targets instead of providing great experiences, lack of internal culture around being customer-centric, or simply a lack of opportunity to develop and foster empathy for the customer experience.

When staff feel pressured, rushed and disengaged – customers feel it too.

Why was my call with BNZ different?*

Understanding the importance of the touchpoint – BNZ recognise the ‘welcome’ call as an important touchpoint with a new customer, one they need to staff with sincere individuals who aren’t constrained by time or the need to meet sales targets.

Freedom - the fellow I spoke to had no time limit. Based on the needs of each new customer, he spent the time needed. Upon digging deeper, I learned some calls took 10 minutes, whilst others take up to 90 minutes.

I felt like he had time for me, talking slowly and pausing often.

Passion – it was clear he loved people, talking to them, hearing their stories and generally liked having a good old chin-wag.

After publishing this post BNZ even expressed their gratitude virtually, within minutes of the post going live (companies with a Twitter presence, take notes!)

Who gets gratitude?


Gratitude shouldn’t be exclusively reserved for your highest value customers. Sincerely thank customers who enquired about you or tried your service/product and decided to leave, they still gave you their time – thank them for it.

For example, AA (Automobile Association) follow-up with customers each year to see if they want to renew their membership. If a person doesn’t want to renew they still receive a heartfelt thanks for having been a member.

If customers leave feeling valued, they’ll be much more likely to return in the future.

No amount of gratitude will negate poor experience

No amount of heartfelt ‘thanks’ or personalised gifts will negate an overall poor service experience. The expression of gratitude can be an element of your end-to-end service delivery but isn’t a get-out-of jail free card.

Be honest, how are you expressing gratitude for your customers? Is it sincere or simply part of the script? There’s no fooling your customers, they can feel the difference.

* I didn’t make this stuff up, a BNZ insider helped me understand the experience I had.

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