Monday, February 27, 2012

The Cure For The Poison Pen

Pin It
One word, many blessings.

The power of the written word. I started this blog post about 2 years ago, after a bad day.  I got it off my chest and it has sat as a draft for all this time.  I decided to dust it off.  First a little background.  I am a proficient letter writer. I have boxes of cards and letters dating back to my First Communion, I find them to be blessings.  I give my kids thank you cards every holiday as a reminder of what happens after the gift giving.   My parents are quite generous at Christmas, birthdays, sometimes out of the blue.  The rule has always been, a thank you note.  No thank you note, no more gifts.  It's simple really.  They would just like to know you got it and you are grateful.  How much is this to ask?  There was a great story about a man who just wasn't happy and his business was struggling.  When his son payed back a loan he didn't think he would ever see, he wrote him a thank you note.  The response made him realize how powerful those 2 little words are, and his resolution was to write one every day.  Even the barista at Starbucks, who knew his name and order, got one.  He really was grateful that someone cared about something as simple as his morning latte.  It is similar to the Oprah's Grateful journals that she challenged her audience to years ago.  But this is better, he doesn't just think of all his blessings, he thanks those responsible for some of the littlest ones.

Living in Atlanta, I learned how powerful a positive remark can be. I was rushing out of the house one day and accidentally locked my toddler, in the minivan, in his car seat, engine running, in the garage. Of course he couldn't reach the lock and the extra key was traveling with my husband. Nic was in no danger, but what the heck do ya do? I called the dealership which was about 6 miles away and explained my situation. I obviously couldn't hitch a ride and go pick up a key. Within 15 minutes an employee was in my driveway with a key. He wouldn't accept any money. I was so thankful, I sat down and wrote a letter to the dealership about their amazing service and wonderful employee, who I am sure had plenty of work to be done that day. To my surprise, they wrote me back. They told me how refreshing it was to get a letter of compliment and they were thrilled I was happy. The letter would go into the employee file of the guy who brought me the key. Wow. I had no idea.

I felt very powerful. But I knew at that moment that a letter of complaint could easily have the same ramifications. I have written them.  But, I also recognize that people have burdens. I may be at the return line at Macy's the day that employee found out her mom has cancer. Who am I to think that someone should put their life on hold to make my return quick and seamless. How many times do you get a receipt with a phone number and a code so you can "let them know how they're doing"? Do you feel like anyone really reads that stuff? Are you really in the running for a $5000 gift card? I think those are simply ways to track their customers. But write a real letter and trust me, wheels will be in motion. I know.

When I was in high school, we were required to write a letter to a company about a problem with a product. I really had trouble with this.  As a teenage consumer I didn't have a lot of experience. I decided to write Brach's candy company about some stale chocolate I had bought on my break at work. I was desperate. I did indeed get a reply, some coupons, and a request for information where this stale candy was purchased. I learned in that moment that there is very often compound reasons for a problem. In this case, it was at one of my dad's grocery stores where the stock had not been rotated. Ooops, sorry Dad.   A good teacher should have made the assignment a letter of praise to a company, as a reminder to us that we should recognize a job well done.

This all comes back to a complaint about me.  I know, it slays me.  I cannot recall the customer, the transaction, the problem, which is a red flag for me.  I obviously pissed off someone, but they didn't handle it with my manager, they wrote corporate.  Which is fine.  I signed off on the letter, it sits in my file.  But after 15 years at the same store, I wonder how many people I helped in a pinch?  How many people took a piece of my advice home and had something work?  I can think of lovely people who gushed over a sample, the service of the people I work with, the gorgeous store in which I work or a great product.  We've all been there.  So here is my challenge for my blog readers.  Write a letter.  A letter of thanks or a compliment to someone who maybe made a transaction easier, a shopping experience pleasant, or maybe a product you never knew could work so well was a great surprise.  I'm not asking anyone to praise someone for doing their job, but there are many, many people who will exceed all of your expectations.  You will be amazed at the power of a positive word. Okay, there ya go, you don't even need to head to the grocery store!  So, what are you waiting for?  Get in there and write!

No comments:

Post a Comment