Empower Your Employees to Commit to Random Acts of Kindness

Written By Anna Sullins


The old adage, “it’s the little things that matter the most”, is all too often overlooked as we hurry about our day, attempting to improve productivity and efficiency. But small gestures really stick with customers and can make a difference in your business. Here’s one example.

Empower people to perform unexpected kindnesses

Hank is a long-time server at The Dining Room at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. One summer afternoon he was serving a lovely family staying at The Inn who had four-year old and 14-year old daughters. As he went about his usual attentive duties, he noticed that the younger child wasn’t eating dessert. Concerned that she might not be happy with the choices, he raised the question to discover that she had a dairy allergy that prevented her from having any of the standard dessert options. He took this information to The Inn chef to discuss what they could do, and in response, the chef created a dairy-free dessert just for her! She was all smiles when it was presented and ate it happily. The delicious diary-free desserts continued the entire time she stayed at The Inn—assuring one happy little girl.

Later that week, on a quiet night in The Dining Room, Hank took it upon himself to give the girls a special private kitchen tour. They were elated. In a letter sent by the girls’ mother, she said this was a highlight of their trip and made them feel very special. All this was largely due to Hank’s ability to be a perfect server, gentleman, and outstanding host!

Hank had other tables to serve, and he did so admirably, but when he noticed something slightly off, he moved with empowerment to remedy the situation, in this case with a dairy-free dessert. His private kitchen tour made the girls feel as if they were queens for a day. In a business world where turning tables means making more money, what Hank did was counter intuitive, and yet it was a natural thing for Hank because he was immersed in Biltmore’s culture of gracious hospitality. Can you think of ways you could empower your employees to take that kind of ownership with your customers?

We’ve worked with hundreds of companies who realize that small gestures do more than simply please a customer. Empowering your employees to offer random acts of kindness improves employee morale and consequently, employee retention. In our day-long workshop, learn all about how small gestures add up and other ways we use our trademark gracious hospitality that keeps guests coming back. Here are a few industry examples that deliver the kind of service that creates customers for life and enhances employee job satisfaction.

Provide thoughtful follow up

Asking for feedback dramatically improves customer retention, according to Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of O2E Brands, including 1-800-got-junk?.  These courtesy phone calls and online surveys work; Scudamore’s company employees touch base with all customers after they’ve hauled their unwanted items away.

Some companies go even further with touches such as leaving a bouquet after a paint job, or calling a customer on the way to their home and offering to bring them coffee or a latte. This type of small thank you delivers amazing results. People love to share stories about good service with friends and family, which can enhance your brand image and foster customer loyalty.

Additionally, loyalty spurs business growth—remember that 80 percent of your revenue will come from 20 percent of your existing customers, so treat them well.

Acknowledge your employees’ small gestures

Biltmore’s ACORN employee program honors employees who exemplify the values the company holds dear. Each quarter employees nominate colleagues who have gone the extra mile with other employees or guests. The winner each quarter receives companywide recognition and special rewards from our CEO.

Did those quarterly winners make those gestures simply to win an award? No, they did it because they recognized a service opportunity and made an empowered decision. That empowerment comes from granting employees freedom to be creative and by establishing operating policies that encourage spontaneous acts of kindness. When employees feel empowered, they are not likely to want to leave a company. Are there ways you can streamline operations or reduce SOPs to make it easier for your employees to go the extra mile? And can you put some acknowledgement practices into place to recognize them for doing so?

Being acknowledged for those gestures is important. This acknowledgement doesn’t have to be for something huge; there’s always a cause for celebration — here are some ways you can acknowledge and celebrate victories large and small.

Small gestures are only one topic we offer to businesses interested in learning more about customer service, authentic leadership, and other timely business topics. Learn more about how our workshops can help change your company’s direction.