The Purpose of Appreciation

By Kitty Hart, Director, CAPSULE

We make thousands of decisions every day. Many are purchase decisions. We pry our wallets open and hand other people, or automated machines, our hard earned cash in exchange for goods and services. Some exchanges make us uber-happy like the purchase of a fabulous pair of Old Gringo boots, tickets to an Adele concert or a finely frothed morning latte. Others provide a sense of comfort and fill our basic needs like purchasing a week’s worth of groceries. Regardless of the item, a decision has been made based on rational and emotional criteria. The criteria are different for each of us as human beings. For instance, you may be thinking, I don’t give a rat’s-asterisk about Old Gringo boots and I’d rather see Pitbull in concert any day of the week. That’s ok. We’re all different. Live and let live, right? We can’t all have great taste in boots and music. The point is, we all make small, medium and large purchase decisions that are meaningful to us individually. So, isn’t it nice to feel good after we’ve just made a purchase?

Of course it is.

Now, think back to your last trip to the grocery store, Target or the coffee shop. After you made your selections and proceeded to the cashier, what sort of experience did you have? Were you greeted? What sort of interaction did you have with the person there to complete your “transaction?” How did you feel parting with your hard earned cash? Did the person thank you? Did you feel appreciated?

Over the past 6 months I’ve run an experiment. During each of my retail visits, I took note of how I felt after my purchases. And more specifically, I noted if I was thanked for my transaction. Sadly, 8 out of 10 times I was not. It did not feel good.

The irony of this is I always feel compelled to say thank you to the cashier no matter how long I wait for them to say those precious words to me. Why? Why do I feel compelled? Oh right, because it’s the polite thing to do. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for teaching me manners.

But oddly, can you guess what the cashiers' responses were when I thanked them? When I had just pried my wallet open and handed them my cold-hard cash? Again, 8 out of 10 times the responses were, “Yeah, no problem.”

Really? No problem?!

Well, I hope it’s no problem because the fact that I just put $100 into your cashbox for products I probably don’t really “need” is contributing to your salary. I hope it’s no problem because I just provided something for you to do with your hands while you were more interested in carrying on a conversation with the neighboring cashier who, by the way, I now know gets off at 3pm today and is still buzzing from the party last night. Their conversation was far more important to them than the job they had been hired to fulfill. I’ll tell you what’s “NO Problem,” taking my business across the street to another retailer. (Thanks for letting me vent.)

As I consistently experience lack of consumer appreciation I wonder if retail leaders and managers know this is happening. How can they not? It’s right under their noses. It appears they don’t care. Do they not care because they know our world is inching closer and closer to full automation? The experience I just described is nothing more than an automated checkout. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the self-checkout lanes when I’m in a hurry and they are open. But I prefer the experience of a human checkout if the human acts like a human. I don’t want to see humans lose their jobs to bots. But retailers that employ humans to be nothing more than bots are accelerating the full automation trend faster than the technology itself.

Do these brands not see the connection between appreciation and brand loyalty, within this most important face-to-face interaction? A simple thank you, I believe, is one of the most important statements any brand can make to its customers. It says, “We value you. We know you have choices. We thank you for choosing us.” And these words are best delivered by the human voice, not the computer.

This is the purpose of appreciation.

Brands that understand this connection create loyalty. When they design good shopping experiences,  we appreciate being inside their four walls. We willingly and happily give them our money. And we exuberantly share these experiences with others. Designing experiences with the purpose of appreciation builds better brands. 

Thank you for sticking with me all the way to the end of this rant. I appreciate you.
(See what I did there?)

Kitty Hart
Director of Client Experience



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