I once worked with a company in which the Director of the Customer Relations department would walk through the department and say “You guys are Rockstars!” When an employee would speak with him privately, he would discuss their issue and upon leaving would say “You’re a Rockstar!”
This seems a good practice… until you hear his staff members say…”If he calls me a Rockstar once more, I’m going to lose my mind!” I asked them to explain.
It seems that, while well intended, his compliments were completely empty. His staff felt that he had absolutely no understanding of the stress of their jobs, the hoops they had to jump through to make or keep customers happy, the stressful interactions involved with other departments to move up orders or how unreasonable many of their clients were. Their manager had given up asking him for assistance in these areas because he was torn in too many directions and offered no support to that department within the company.
Once I pressed them for more information, the staff told me that the compliments from the Director meant nothing, while the compliments from their manager meant everything to them.
The manager would give the following compliments…
“I noticed how you really went to bat for that customer and did everything possible to move their order up to meet their deadline. Even though it didn’t work out, they noticed that you put forth the effort. That means a lot to them.”
“I like the way you speak with our customers. You really show a sense of graciousness and pleasantness that I like. Even when the news isn’t what the customer wanted to hear, you really go out of your way to sound genuinely empathetic. Thanks for that.”
“I really appreciate the thoroughness you show when coming to me with a situation. You have all of your facts checked and have a few possibilities for solutions in mind. That really helps me make a decision much faster.”
Specificity is the key here folks. Empty compliments mean nothing. They may sound nice initially, but over time they feel just that… empty and meaningless.
When you give the little effort to specify what you are complimenting and how it impacts the situation, your staff will likely repeat the behavior.
After all, that’s our end goal, right? Reward the desired behaviors and they will likely be repeated. When this happens, our staff is happy and they treat the customers better, customers are happy, they return and likely buy more, and we make more profits.
Bottom line… be specific and sincere. It means more than you know.
Please leave your thoughts and examples below…