Strengthen relationships by incorporating appreciation strategies
Generosity and gratitude
are contagious, and your community will recognize whether your organization
genuinely embodies it.
By Carolyn Smith, TRA, ASA
As year-end approaches, are you trying to navigate turbulent waters in this challenging market? Are you struggling just to keep your head above water? Have you lost all interest in spreading joy and gratitude this holiday season?
Wait a moment! What if we told you that implementing an attitude of gratitude could be the key to not only surviving but thriving in these trying times?
In the groundbreaking study Counting Blessings versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life, researchers Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough discovered that when you focus on gratitude, your well-being is heightened. The most significant effect indicated that consciously acknowledging our blessings can lead to significant emotional and interpersonal benefits.
So, how can you put this gratitude approach into practice, especially when your days are filled with challenges and uncertainty? Studies have shown that making gratitude a part of your daily routine can have a profound impact on your overall happiness.
While the specifics may vary, the general consensus is clear: Writing down three things you’re grateful for each day can elevate your happiness more than listing items weekly. And what boosts it even more? Sharing your gratitude or appreciation with another person can raise your happiness level even further.
Even better, incorporating gratitude doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. You can seamlessly integrate it into your busy life by dedicating a mere 30 seconds to send a “Grati-text.” Think of someone who significantly impacted your life and send them a text expressing your gratitude.
Now, gratitude isn’t just about personal well-being; it can also be a game-changer for your business. While most of us are quick to say a casual “thank you,” when was the last time you reached out to a client or colleague, shook their hand, looked them in the eye, and genuinely thanked them for their contributions? Timely expressions of gratitude have the power to transform your agency from the inside out, fostering a sense of unity among your employees and building unwavering loyalty among your clients.
The Gratitude Approach, as advocated by author Angeles Arrien, is not merely an emotional response; it’s a conscious choice we make. Arrien suggests four fundamental ways to express gratitude:
- Recognize the good in your life.
- Accumulate and learn from experiences of growth and change.
- Exhibit kindness, compassion, and forgiveness in both work and personal life.
- Safeguard your family, yourself, your business, your employees or colleagues, and your clients’ businesses.
By embracing these principles, you not only acknowledge the importance of gratitude but also create a strong foundation for building lasting relationships with your customers, employees, and underwriters. Gratitude becomes the secret ingredient that sets your agency apart, propelling it beyond the ordinary and enabling it to thrive despite adversity.
So, how can you set your agency apart from your competitors?
- Maintain an unwavering commitment to the Gratitude Approach.
- Weave a culture of appreciation, trust, loyalty, creativity, and diversity into the fabric of your organization.
Creating superior value
How do you create superior value for customers, employees and carriers by incorporating the Gratitude Approach? Consider the following:
Customer/employee/carrier-centric strategy. When designing your strategy, start with the other person in mind—clients, employees, or carriers. Try to view everything through their eyes and focus on what you can do for them, rather than vice versa.
Focus on delivering value. Create a human-centric strategy to achieve, sustain, and profit from delivering value while showing appreciation.
Step into their shoes. The human-centric Gratitude Approach demands that you step into your customers’/employees’/carriers’ shoes and view your agency’s actions from their perspective. Instead of asking, “What can they do for us?”, ask “What can we do for them?”
These gratitude-driven habits not only showcase servant leadership but also enhance your credibility and grant you the authority to discuss challenging topics with your clients, employees, and underwriters—both financial and non-financial matters, the ones that keep them awake at night. In today’s turbulent world, successfully delivering insurance and risk management solutions requires nurturing longer, deeper relationships founded on trust and gratitude.
Incorporating the Gratitude Approach goes beyond just gratitude—you must also practice generosity.
So, how can you develop a culture of generosity and gratitude within your agency? Here are some key strategies to consider:
Culture. Generosity and gratitude should permeate your agency’s culture, running like a thread through its mission and values.
Good strategy. A generous, grateful mindset should be more than just an intention; it should be accompanied by a strategic plan that guides your agency toward achieving this goal. This strategy must encompass both the desire to be generous and more grateful and the practical steps to achieve it.
For example, one Fortune 500 corporation has an internal motto: Do a Good Turn Daily. Employees are encouraged to recognize their colleagues by gifting them online for their good deeds.
Contagious effect. Generosity and gratitude are contagious, and your community will recognize whether your organization genuinely embodies it. The act of giving generously and exhibiting an attitude of gratitude has a viral effect that inspires others to follow suit.
Generous, grateful leaders. A generous leader with an attitude of gratitude can transform an agency into a generous servant leader. Leading by example is paramount.
Storytelling. Share stories of the impact of generosity and gratitude within your agency and the broader community. Celebrate these acts to encourage others to follow suit.
Systematic approach. Generosity and an attitude of gratitude are not a single action but a collection of practices that must work in harmony. They require long-term commitment rather than short-term programs.
Intentionality. Approach generosity and gratitude with purpose and intention. Define your desired results and work towards them intentionally.
Plan outrageous acts of generosity and gratitude. Challenge your colleagues to plan and execute grand acts of generosity that involve the entire agency team. Encourage thinking on a large scale to inspire big dreams.
By intentionally cultivating a culture of gratitude and generosity, you and your agency will experience transformational change. You possess unique gifts that the world needs, and by generously sharing your strengths and talents, you’ll enhance your business and positively impact your community.
To reinforce these principles and show your stakeholders (clients, employees, underwriters) how much they mean to you, consider implementing various stakeholder appreciation strategies:
Greeting cards. Follow in the footsteps of Joe Girard, “the world’s best salesman,” who sent 12 cards per year to every customer and prospect. Celebrate various holidays and occasions with personalized cards to all your stakeholders—clients, employees, underwriters, and centers of influence.
Personal notes. Go beyond emails and send thoughtful thank-you notes to express your appreciation after client appointments, purchases, referrals, or any actions deserving recognition.
Invitations. Pay special attention to your top stakeholders by inviting them to events outside the office. Spending quality time together can strengthen your relationships.
Small gifts. Send tokens of appreciation like flowers, books, or a mug filled with treats on special occasions or simply to express gratitude.
Food. Food is universally loved. Consider sending cupcakes, arranging a catered lunch at the client’s office, or delivering a tray of cookies.
Gift cards. Gift cards for coffee shops, restaurants, movies, or other places your stakeholders frequent can serve as thoughtful gestures.
Referral rewards. Acknowledge and reward clients and centers of influence who refer new business your way. A simple thank-you note can go a long way.
Reverse referral. If your clients or centers of influence are business owners, look for opportunities to refer business to them. This unexpected gesture can set you apart.
Stakeholder appreciation days. Designate special days to celebrate your stakeholders. Offer exclusive promotions, giveaways, or bonuses to show your gratitude.
The gift of information. Share valuable information like relevant emails, e-books, reports, or videos that your stakeholders will find useful.
Host events. Organize parties, open houses, or virtual seminars to engage with your stakeholders outside of the typical business setting.
Life events. Send acknowledgments, even if it’s just a simple card, when you know your stakeholders are experiencing major life events like weddings, births, promotions, or retirements.
Incorporating these stakeholder appreciation strategies not only strengthens your relationships but also reinforces your commitment to gratitude and generosity in business. By consistently practicing these principles, you will create a culture of appreciation, trust, and loyalty that not only enhances customer value but also boosts your agency’s profitability.
Generosity and an attitude of gratitude are the secret ingredients that set your agency apart, propelling it beyond the ordinary and enabling it to thrive even in the face of a tough market.
Carolyn Smith is the director of Marketing and Innovation for Beyond Insurance and a performance coach for the Quest for Success and Reach Your Peak six-month coaching, mentoring, and performance-enhancement programs. Beyond Insurance is a coaching and training organization for insurance agents, brokers, and carriers who desire a consultative, diagnostic customer engagement process.