Customer Experience News & Trends

Customer loyalty hinges on your ‘power of nice’

Could this little word be the common thread that builds and holds customer loyalty?


That’s what you want customers to experience — nice people, nice circumstances, nice service, nice recovery — and according to Linda Kaplan Thaler, author of Grit to Great and The Power of Nice, it is the key to continued customer loyalty.

Four-letter word with impact

“In a world where the simple phrases ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are rapidly becoming extinct, we are losing track of the vital human thread of compassion and kindness that connects us all,” says Kaplan Thaler, who recently spoke at the Loyalty Expo in Orlando. “Nice may be the most impactful four-letter word you need in business today.”

“Nice” isn’t just good for the customer experience. It’s good for your company. Kaplan’s research found companies that are known for being nice have lower turnover rates, lower recruitment costs and higher productivity. On a more granular level, nice people make more money, are healthier and live longer.

Here are five tips from Kaplan Thaler on using the power of nice to build customer loyalty:

1. Plant the seed

Positive impressions are like seeds. You plant one, it grows. Think of every customer experience as an opportunity to make the business world a nicer place.

Smile at customers and co-workers. Laugh at their jokes (as long as they’re in good taste), whether they’re funny or not. Thank customers (naturally) and people who work with you for the everyday things they do that make your work go smoothly.

2. Bend like bamboo

Stick to policies and procedures that are in place to keep customers physically or financially safe. Beyond that, be flexible.

Tell customers you’re willing to try something different or new for their unique request. Follow a different-than-normal path for problem-solving to give customers a personalized solution.

3. Put customers in the spotlight

Companies and their employees often emphasize to customers their products, services or experiences, putting the spotlight on the company. It’s like starring in your own movie, Kaplan Thaler says.

Instead, spend time to tell customers about the impact they make on you and your company. Front-line employees can (and should) say, “Thanks for the opportunity to work with you. You’re a great person.” Ask for customers’ feedback and tell them what you do with it — improvements and changes based on what they say is important.

4. Listen closely

Often, the employees whom customers call the nicest are also the same employees who say the least. They listen more than they speak, and when they speak, what they say is spot-on because they completely understood customer’s issues and emotions.

Customers remember how the employees made them feel more than what the employees actually did.

5. Make it easy

Employees will be nicest when they have the time and freedom to do so. If they’re backed up on deadlines or are required to meet quotas for the inquiries they handle, they will rush the experience and customers won’t think they’re nice.

Understandably, not every day and situation will allow employees the time for extended niceties. But your customer experience plan needs to focus more on creating quality experiences.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.