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Why Thankfulness Works in Business

Have you noticed that going the extra mile is easier when you have an attitude of gratitude? Being thankful is good for our health, and it is good for those whom we serve. In addition, random acts of kindness create good will, and THEY sets up the powerful law of reciprocation. How does this law work? Keep reading.

Among the hundreds of pieces of junk mail I receive each month are many requests for me to complete a survey. These survey letters end up in the shredder because I am too busy. Allocating five minutes of mental focus and energy on a survey is just too much to ask.

Then last week, a survey request arrived in the mail that included a new, crisp one dollar bill. The requestor’s cover letter admitted that one dollar was probably not enough to cover my time, but he hoped it would be incentive enough for me to complete and return the survey. Almost on cue, I picked up my pen, read and answered the survey questions and placed the completed paperwork in the stamped, addressed envelope. The one dollar bill was certainly not enough reimbursement. So why did I oblige? There was another powerful force at work - it’s called the law of reciprocation.

Numerous sociology studies prove that we feel obliged to repay someone when they do something nice for us. The law of reciprocation possesses awesome strength, often producing a “yes” response to a request that, except for an existing feeling of indebtedness, would have surely been refused.

At conferences and trade shows, we see the law of reciprocation at work at a booth offering passersby a free pen, free mug or other free incentive. These items may have little street value; however, they motivate prospects to approach a booth so a salesperson can espouse the benefits of his product or service. The law of reciprocation is the most powerful form of persuasion and influence.

Customer retention is easier to achieve when service reps exceed a customer’s expectations using the law of reciprocation. Sending your loyal customers a handwritten “thank you” note, for example, is one form of showing your appreciation. This unexpected gesture obliges customers to continue buying from you because you have done something nice for them. Including a coupon or a gift card in the “thank you” note increases the reciprocation factor.

The law of reciprocation is powerful, and it works. When your customers sense your good intentions, they will, in the name of reciprocity, give back more than they have received in the form of future business. Happy Thanksgiving!

About the author:
Steve Coscia helps HVACR companies make more money through greater customer retention, improved upselling and reduced on-the-job stress. He is the author of numerous best-selling books, including the HVAC Customer Service Handbook and The Trade Technician’s Soft Skills Manual. To learn more about Steve Coscia, go to or contact Steve Coscia at 610-853-9836 or [email protected].

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