Nana Ruth taught me to write letters. Many years ago she encouraged me to write to companies after enjoying a product or a stay or an encounter; more so than when I was disenchanted. It makes you look for good, inquire of names, and jot things down. When your looking for good you find it. I’ve enjoyed this lesson and have received free loaves of bread, smiles, and plain ole good karma. I’m so glad she taught me to write letters.
We stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Naples Florida for my birthday last year. I felt like everyone who worked there was only interested in me enjoying my birthday. I made a point of remembering the names of staff members who wished me a happy birthday greeting as we passed in the halls, or as we played ping pong provided more coffee, or brought us another towel by the pool. They knew my name?! I felt like a celebrity.
There was a beastly woman with an older man by the pool. She was loud and rude to the pool attendant, who continued to accommodate her until she finally quieted down and settled into a spot that suited her. I would have snatched the towel out from under her repugnant self and wrapped it around her neck, but, he remained kind and accommodating. I wrote a letter and included his name and the names of other exceptional staff members, and received a printed response with a little hand written personal note stating that a copy of my letter had been given to each named staff member personally.
The Ritz made it very easy for me to do this. In our room there was a stamped envelope with their address on it. During my drive home I wrote the letter and filled out their form and mailed it back. Of course there is an online version as well, but, I like the handwritten option.
Congressman Boozeman always writes me back a personal note in his own writing with a blue pen at the bottom of a pre-scripted printed page. I don’t always agree with him, and that is usually what I am telling him, but I am impressed that he includes a personal note explaining his thinking. I bring it to work and share it so others can see his handwritten note and that it does make a difference to “write your congressman”. Senators Lincoln and Pryor respond via e-mail — sometimes.
Dan and Chip Heath wrote… In America alone, there are about 2.7 million call-center employees who are standing by ready to soothe you. That’s roughly the population of Kansas. But what if you’ve got joy in your heart? Good luck finding someone who cares.
That’s a tragedy on multiple levels, first for the employees who never receive your warm fuzzies. Pick any non-customer-service employee at random from your company. When was the last time that person received positive feedback directly from a customer? If the answer is “never,” that’s as cruel as an unwatered plant.
I have worked as a travel nurse in various hospitals for several years. One hospital in Boca Raton Florida stands out in my mind because patients wrote letters to the hospital telling them how wonderful we were. Sometimes my name was included with the names of others and we each received a personal copy. I saved them. I was only there for six months, but, collected more letters of appreciation than all the other places combined. I don’t think I was a better nurse there. What is it about Boca Hospital that makes people write letters of appreciation? Did the hospital make it easier for the patients to write compliments? Were they given a stamped envelope?
Companies should pave the way to praise. Maybe you appreciate the extra-deep cup holder in your Toyota, which holds your venti latte snugly. Where do you send the thank-you note?
One last little story. Seth was working at an airline counter at Miami International Airport. I had just arrived from Dallas after missing my flight to Ft Myers due to weather. It was very important for me to be in Ft Myers that night because my son had been in a motorcycle accident and was on life support with multiple injuries including brain injury. It was the worst 22 hours of my life just trying to get to him in a February snow storm.
Airline personnel just fell into a category of cold and uncaring that night, the more I cried, the more they didn’t care. I’m sure they have listened to many sob stories and they weren’t moved by mine–> then I met Seth. He was in their ranks until I quietly explained my situation without tears. Seth arranged for a van to drive me to Ft Myers since no flights were leaving until the next morning. During the ride over I wrote the airlines and told them what a Godsend Seth had been. I don’t remember, now, what airline Seth worked for, they never responded; but, I will always remember Seth.