Of Recognition and Customer Loyalty

I heard a story the other day that really gripped me. I want to share it with you.

It involves a mentally challenged individual that works at the local supermarket. There was a time when the store awarded “employee of the month” awards to its staff. This young man was a recipient of this award from time-to-time. He was so elated whenever he received the honor that he would brag about it and show off the plaque (that came as part of the recognition) to customers for a week after.

One day, my friend asked the young man to help her load some bags into her car. In the conversation that ensued, she asked if he had received a recognition plaque lately. He said, no, and, went on to explain that the store had done away with the program. He became clearly emotional and distraught discussing it. It seemed that it made him feel so sad that his work (which apparently helps to define him) was no longer being recognized.

Seeing how much this person cared about this honor, my friend decided to take it upon herself to do something about it. Every year at Christmas, for the last several, she gets a recognition plaque made – complete with the young man’s name and picture – and awards it to him in the parking lot when he helps her with her groceries.

She tells me it really makes his day, sometimes he even cries when she gives him the plaque. He is so happy that someone recognizes his work.

Now, what does this have to do with the Best Practice Enterprise? It serves to remind me of how important recognizing talent and contribution can be. Here’s a person that identifies with his work. He takes it seriously and performs it to the best of his ability. We can even say that his enthusiasm locks in customers and adds to the customer experience. My friend doesn’t shop anywhere else – hasn’t for years. Part of her loyalty comes from the fact that the store employs this individual.

Do we recognize our highest contributors? In today’s highly competitive, world-wide economy, we had better because it is important to people. If we don’t, we may just lose our strongest contributors to a Company that does.

3 thoughts on “Of Recognition and Customer Loyalty

  1. What a great story! It’s too bad the young man’s employer decided to do away with the award, but not that surprising. The state of customer service in America is sorry. Businesses should understand that the customer’s experience is the number one determinant of customer loyalty and it sparks word-of-mouth. Reward the type of service you want your customers to deliver.


  2. Hi Jim,Thanks for sending me your blog! I became emotional while reading it….just so you know I recently took a picture of David at Stop & Shop and presented him with his 5th plaque in the parking lot. It was like he received the award for the first time….cheering loudly and then quickly skipping back to the store to show it off. He always makes my day when I give him his plaque. Maybe you can come with me when I present him with the next one to see for yourself. Thanks for sharing the story! Hope to see you and Irene soon.Theresa 🙂


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