Being nice is as easy as making giraffe bread

I like to think of myself as a fairly simple person. This means it’s often the gestures that take the least amount of planning, energy and money to accomplish that affect me the most. I’m a fan of the elaborate once and awhile, but for the most part, small acts of kindness, I believe, make the world a better place little by little.

My sister sent a link to my mother and me of photos to restore our faith in humanity – it’s been passed around on Facebook numerous different ways. We weren’t in need of a complete restore – yet – but I think she knew we could use a little lift. In the simplest way possible, sometimes when things get tough, emotions are high and the pressure is on, people forget just how to be nice and in the easiest, simplest ways possible.

I loved all the stories on the link, but Lily Robinson’s story stuck out. At age 3-and-a-half, she wrote to Sainbury’s, a supermarket in the United Kingdom, suggesting they rename bread they bake in store from tiger bread to giraffe bread due to the fact the bread’s crust resembled the coat of a giraffe more than the tiger stripes for which it was named.

It would have been very easy to let this go. She’s a kid. Her mom obviously helped her type the letter. She drew some pictures on the letter, which was cute, but it could have been easily passed around the office and quickly forgotten.

But Chris King, customer service manager, wrote her back, informing her the suggestion was a “brilliant idea.” He went onto to explain how tiger bread got its name and sent her a gift card, so she could buy some bread for herself.

Lily’s mom promptly put the story and photos of the letters up on her blog. It hit the Twitter-sphere and died down before hitting Facebook earlier this year. King probably thought it was a cute letter and thought he would do something nice, but in the process he boosted the customer service reputation for Sainbury’s around the world. One small act not only did wonders for Lily’s self esteem, but he elevated an entire company.

When I read this story, my curiosity got the best of me, and I Googled it to find out more information and if it was actually a real occurrence. It was real, and Lily’s letter was so “brilliant,” in fact, the company renamed the bread to giraffe bread. BBC News reported on the story in January.

With the world becoming an ever-so-smaller place, thanks to technology, everything business owners and employees do is up for scrutiny. How many times have you logged onto Facebook to see one of your acquaintances either complaining about a customer service experience or asking for recommendations?

My sister’s goal of lifting our spirits worked, and at the same time, illustrated how, as a business owner, it can be easy to make a customer for life with one simple gesture. It also shows how good words spread just as fast as negative ones, which is sometimes just as easy to forget.

Tiffannie Bond is a media relations specialist at Imagine Communications.

Email Tiffannie at tbond@weareimagine.com.

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