Phil Castle, The Business Times
Mike Daniels believes acts of kindness, courtesy and respect should be encouraged — and in doing so, acknowledged.
It’s important not only for school-age children to develop those values, Daniels says, but also essential for business owners and managers in delivering the kind of customer service that distinguishes their operations in an increasingly competitive environment.
That’s why Daniels says he’s joined in a national initiative to raise awareness of the benefits of kindness and customer service.
Daniels operates an American Family Insurance agency with offices in Grand Junction and Fruita. His agency is also what’s called a community champion for the Kindness Revolution.
The initiative — and nonprofit business membership organization that’s behind the effort — is based on the principles in the book of the same name that offers information about exceptional customer service and that companies that provide it. Ed Horrell, a customer service expert, columnist and author, wrote the book and founded the organization. Horrell contends in the book good customer service is a result of good relationships between companies and their employees — relationships characterized by kindness.
Daniels says he became involved about a year ago after hearing about the initiative, conducting some research and talking with other insurance professionals. “It was something giving back to the community.”
While different community champions are involved in different aspects of the initiative, Daniels says he decided to focus on promoting and acknowledging acts of kindness among school-age children.
The Daniels Agency distributes wristbands to local elementary and middle schools imprinted with “The Kindness Revolution” and “It’s Cool 2B Kind.” When staff at the schools observe students display an act of kindness, courtesy or respect, they give those students two wristbands. One wristband is for the student to wear, the other for the student to give to someone they see acting in a kind or thoughtful manner. The program has been popular among teachers and parents, Daniels says.
In addition, the Daniels Agency makes the wristbands available to anyone who wants to join in the effort.
The Kindness Revolution also includes a social media component in posting motivational sayings and tips on promoting kindness.
Since it was founded in 2007, the Kindness Revolution has become one of the longest-running national initatives focused on kindness and has expanded into more than 300 cities across the United States. The initiative reaches more than 1 million people a month through social media.
According to Horrell, an estimated 80 percent of people hate their jobs even as consumers settle for less in customer service when they should expect more. Meanwhile, children face a growing problem of bullying.
“This decline in employee and customer satisfaction and the increase in disrespectful behavior in our schools all result from the same basic problem — how we treat each other,” Horrell says.
Tracy Courtney, a sales specialist who works with Daniels at the agency in handling personal insurance lines, says the goal of the initiative is encourage kindness and civility.
But if the effort also builds awareness of the Daniels Agency and prompts people to consider the agency to meeting their insurance needs, that’s another benefit, Courtney says.
Daniels says participating in the Kindness Revolution fits in with the efforts of his agency to offer quality customer service that includes promptly returning telephone calls, listening to what customers say they want and striving to meet those needs.
Courtney says customer service is essential in the insurance industry. “It’s everything.”
But customer service also has become increasingly important in other industries as consumers enjoy more choices among not only the local stores they patronize, but also the websites from which they purchase goods and services, she says.
Daniels and Courtney says building and maintaining good relationships with customers starts with building and maintaining good relationships with employees. That means hiring for attitude as well as experience and skills, then treating employees well.
“I just try to be honest and fair with staff,” Daniels says. “Hopefully, if I treat them well, they’ll take my interests to heart at the same time.”
Kindness Revolution wristbands are available from the Mike Daniels Agency office located at 2648 Patterson Road, Suite G, in Grand Junction. More information is available online at www.thekindnessrevolution.net.