The Competitive Advantage|Jill Lublin

A simple “thank you” leads customers to spend more, employees to get more done, and vendors to pay and deliver on time. It’s what Gary Vaynerchuk, social media expert and author of The Thank You Economy, says will give businesses the upper hand.

“We’re living in what I like to call the ‘Thank You Economy,’ because only the companies that can figure out how to mind their manners in a very old-fashioned way—and do it authentically—are going to have a prayer of competing,” Vaynerchuk said in an column. “I care a great deal about the bottom line, but I care about my customers even more. That’s always been my competitive advantage,” he said.

Here are some economical and quick ideas to make “thank you” a part of your day in a way that lets people know the role they play in your business matters!

  • Send it in writing. If I just had a productive call or finished up a tough call, I like to send a thank-you email to that person or group to let them know I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the team. Any time a referral calls me, even if it doesn’t pan out, I love to send a thank-you card to the person who threw my name out there. It is amazing how this act of gratitude makes me smile.
  • Refer business. Is there any better compliment than someone staking their own reputation on their opinion of you? To me, there is no greater way of saying thanks to partners, clients, or customers than by referring others to do business with them. It says you trust them explicitly to handle your clients just as carefully as you would. The law of reciprocity goes into effect here as well, as any time a good business referral comes to me, I am happy to return the favor when I can.
  • Thank the squeaky wheels. Inspired by an article I read on, I thought the idea of thanking complaining customers was an important one. Very few people like to be the bearer of bad news, and most of the time when customers are unhappy, they simply stop coming around. If a person takes the time to offer criticism or even go out of their way to track you down and com- plain, it means they care and that they haven’t completely cut you out of their lives…yet. Hearing bad news can be helpful to your business. We all want to know where we can improve. “I’m so glad you brought this to my attention,” or “I’m glad you felt you can come to me with this,” are always gracious responses, especially when your ego will be a little bruised. It’s tough hearing that you might have let someone down, but giving the customers the benefit of the doubt that they are coming from a place of helpfulness rather than hindrance can prove that you have the tough skin and the soft heart that are both necessary for doing good business.
  • Choose your words carefully. Just like Mom always said, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” When doling out thanks, people can spot a fake right away. Don’t offer inauthentic gratitude or give it when someone hasn’t earned it. Saying things you don’t mean will cause you to lose street cred, which will not fare well when you want your words to actually sink in.
  • Hug the low man on the totem pole. Have you ever watched a pop star win a Grammy and credit her mother, maker, and manager? There are tons of people on the roster who helped make her dreams come true, and while it may be impossible to call out their names during a 30-second slot, I would hope everyone from her sound mixer to her nutritionist to her therapist gets wind of her gratitude at some point or another. We busy people in business fall into the same patterns (recognizing the people we work with day in and day out) while we need to remember to give props to the members of the team who make our days run smoothly behind the scenes, such as the mailroom clerk, the cafeteria manager who always has the lettuce you prefer, or the UPS man with the handy box cutter. We all make the world go round, and thanking these folks will show them, that yes, what they do matters!
  • Use Social Media. suggests thanking customers by posting coupons or secret code words on Facebook that give fans exclusive deals. “Mention a loyal customer on Twitter to publicly show your gratitude. Or perhaps even pro- file one of your best clients on your company blog, explaining why you appreciate them so much,” the article says.