The Power of Small Gestures
I think most Americans hate their dentist. I don't. I'm actually pretty happy with my dentist. It's not because my dentist gets my teeth any cleaner than any other dentist. It's not because my dental appointments are shorter. I like my dentist because of his followup. Two examples:
- My wife recently had some minor dental work done. Nothing major. A pretty standard root canal. It went fine. However, at 8pm that evening my wife got a call at home. It was our dentist calling to make sure everything was OK and my wife was feeling fine.
- I've referred a
few patients to my dentist over the last few years. Everytime I've made a referral I receive a
handwritten note of thanks from my dentist.
I don't know whether my dentist is giving me the best care -- but I feel much more confident in my relationship with him than I do with my doctor. A small gesture - a quick phone call or a two sentence note - has made me feel valued and well cared for.
I believe that small gestures can send a large message -- both internally (inside a company) and externally (to the marketplace). Some examples:
- At Half.com we often had real aggressive development schedules and sometimes engineers often ended up working really long hours. For one critical project we had an engineer work all weekend to launch new credit card functionality. My co-founder and CTO, Sunny Balijepalli, sent flowers to the engineers wife – in recognition that she was making a sacrifice as well as the engineer. It made quite a statement.
- I’m a big fan of keeping costs low in a startup. At Half.com I had a really strong finance team. However, I had a policy that I wanted to see the first expense report of every new hire. Not because I didn’t trust my CFO. But because I found that if I took the expense report, walked over to the new hire, and asked him a simple question (like “what conference was in Chicago last week?”), he/she would realize that their expenses were scrutinized.
Small gestures send large signals. What signals can you send to your customers, competitors, and employees?
(And if anyone is looking for a new dentist in the Philadelphia area, I'd highly recommend Dr. Markowitz!)