Two Words that Can Increase Business by 17%

by Jessica Zartler / March 04, 2016

The power of gratitude should never be underestimated. It is a force that inspires and plants the seeds of generosity, reciprocity and can create a ripple effect of positivity that expands exponentially to those in your circles and beyond.

It is not only common sense and good manners that leads people to say “Thank You,” but science and psychology also shows that the impact of those two small words can be huge in developing relationships - especially for business.

    Thanking Clients & The Rule of Reciprocity

Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School studies how emotions influence decisions and has written a book highlighting the science of gratitude. In one of her experiments, Gino studied university fundraisers. For the study, the director in charge visited half of the staff and told them, “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the university.” The other half, did not receive any expression of thanks. Gino found that the group who received the director’s thanks and visit, increased their fundraising calls by 50 percent.

Adam Grant, of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, explains what is happening psychologically in this process: “...gratitude expressions can enhance prosocial behavior through both agentic and communal mechanisms, such that when helpers are thanked for their efforts they experience stronger feelings of self-efficacy and social worth, which motivate them to engage.”

And these seemingly small gestures can translate into big business. According to Jill Clarvit from, “saying thank you to your clients, particularly new clients, increases your business 17 percent.” Building Thank You into your business flow, as well as interactions with clients and your network, is the best low-cost or free way to grow your business.

It also matters how you say thanks. Research shows it is better to be specific and give something of true value rather than a generic, automated email which means little or nothing to clients. Help Scout offers some fantastic ideas in their blog 25 Ways to Thank Your Customers. It gives some fun and memorable ways to build relationships with your customers and includes real life examples.

As my grandmother taught me, giving without expectation is the best way to give but if you believe in karma, you will also feel gratified when it comes back to you. Dr. Robert Cialdini calls this “The Rule of Reciprocity” in his book Influence: The Pyschology of Persuasion. Cialdini shares a case study in which a waiter’s tips increased by three percent when diners are given a mint, and 14 percent when they’re given two mints. When the waiter left one mint with the bill but quickly returned to offer a second mint, the tips increased by 23 percent. In addition to reciprocity, this speaks to the power of the unexpected gift. When you make your customers or clients feel special, the chances that they will say yes or respond favorably increases dramatically.

Set your intentions and find creative ways to say thank you and watch your businesses blossom!

    The Importance of “Thank You” at the Office

Clients are not the only people who thrive on thanks and they aren’t the only group who can drive financial growth in your business. Employees also can be more engaged at work if they feel appreciated.

According to a year-long research study by Bersin & Associates, organizations that excel at employee recognition are 12 times more likely to generate strong business results. They also have 30 percent less voluntary turnover which can translate into millions of dollars in training, recruitment and lost time.

If that research isn’t enough to convince you, Dr. Marcial Losada, organizational psychologist from the University of Michigan found that among high-performing teams, the expression of positive feedback outweighs that of negative feedback by a ratio of 5.6 to 1. By contrast, low-performing teams have a ratio of .36 to 1. Echoing those findings, an online gratitude poll of 2,000 people by Kaplan. It found 81 percent of people would “work harder for a more grateful boss.”

That is a huge difference for just a few small words of encouragement to an employee or colleague. Expressing gratitude to employees and colleagues can inspire harder work and higher engagement, save you money and it’s even good for your health! If just saying thanks can do all that, imagine what team outings or movie gift cards can do?

    When to Say Thank You

We’ve looked at why and how and some of the science and psychology behind this very powerful thing called gratitude. Here are some occasions when it could be appropriate to use that very thoughtful list of thank you’s you now have:

  • Someone passes along a referral to you
  • You get new business
  • You get repeat business
  • A customer gives you a glowing testimonial
  • Someone shares a Facebook post or tweet
  • A reader comments on your blog
  • An employee or coworker does a great job or helps you finish a project
  • Someone on your team makes a client or customer happy

We hope this has inspired some thoughts on gratitude and how you can implement thank you’s into your daily work.

I would also like to share an easy way to encourage your team to track client and customer Thank You’s. I created a Thank You project inside of Taskworld where all of my team members can see and add to the list. I have tasklists of To Do, Doing and Done where we can add the names or contacts who we want to thank and tag them by in-person, handwritten notes, t-shirts or whatever we choose.

You can Sign up here for your free 30-day trial of Taskworld to start a list of clients or employees you would like to thank.

And what would a gratitude blog be without a thank you to you? From the bottom of my heart, after some hours of research and several cups of tea - thank you so very much for reading this blog and I truly hope it plants some little seeds of gratitude on your path.

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