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VOL. 125 | NO. 92 | Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Website Lets Customers, Employers Show Gratitude

AISLING MAKI | Special to The Daily News

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The Kindness Revolution, a Memphis-based nonprofit initiative committed to raising awareness about the importance of kindness in customer service, has launched a new online forum for customers to say “thanks” for service with a smile.

ThanksforKindness.com invites visitors to submit stories about positive exchanges with businesses and organizations.

“Its purpose is consistent with the mission of The Kindness Revolution, which is to raise the awareness of values – such as kindness – in leadership, customer service, schools and communities,” said Ed Horrell, founder of The Kindness Revolution and author of the book by the same name.

Businesses thanked for their kind service by the site’s visitors include Verizon Wireless on Poplar Avenue in Memphis, The Smart Bean Café in Bartlett, and a local Red Robin restaurant.

“We want to focus on the importance of respectful behavior, treating each other with dignity, respect, courtesy and kindness,” Horrell said.

The website’s “Kindness Corner” currently spotlights Jonathan Rhodes, who’s been selling Sunday papers on the corner of Farmington Boulevard and Kimbrough Road in Germantown for 12 years.

“You’ll get a paper and a dose of kindness for $2,” the post reads. “Jonathan is there every Sunday, rain or shine. He does his job with dignity and gives each customer a ‘God bless you’ as they get their paper.”

The site also gives employers a forum to thank employees who’ve shown exemplary kindness on and off the clock. It’s something Chris Bird, CEO of Dillard Door in Memphis and member of The Kindness Revolution, said he’ll definitely use.

“Two of our core values are employee satisfaction and customer loyalty,” Bird said. “The Kindness Revolution basically says that if you treat your employees right then they will treat your customers right – sort of a ‘pay it forward’ theory and I believe that.

“We’re always looking for ways to recognize an employee’s good work and also to solicit feedback from loyal customers … as in everything else I’ve seen, the Internet just makes it possible to communicate more easily.”

In addition to working with businesses and organizations, The Kindness Revolution reaches out to local schools, promoting their values through a program called “It’s Cool to be Kind.”

Horrell’s new site includes a feature called “Thank Your Teachers,” something he hopes students and parents will use.

“Our student initiative, ‘It’s Cool to be Kind,’ reinforces the importance of respectful behavior,” he said. “Teachers are the key to teaching this and they don’t receive nearly enough appreciation for what they do, so we want to be a tool to make that easier to accomplish.”

Mrs. Taylor, a kindergarten teacher at Lucy Elementary in Millington, has received the site’s first teacher thank you for going above and beyond to help a child settle into his first year of school.

Mark Jowers, owner of ServiceMaster by Cornerstone in Cordova and member of The Kindness Revolution, said it’s vital for children to learn the importance of saying “thank you.”

“Youth need to know that being courteous will get them ahead in life,” he said. “A lot of kids haven’t had the right role models. As a business owner, I want to help as much as I can, and we need to recognize these kids when they do something right.”

Jowers said people “light up” when he tells them about The Kindness Revolution.

“Any organization that’s going to promote courtesy, kindness, dignity and respect, that’s trying to change the culture for the better, is something I want to be a part of. It’s a wonderful organization,” he said.

The Kindness Revolution also publishes a magazine called Spirit of Kindness. Its feature stories, such as “Kindness of the King” about Elvis Presley’s generosity, can also be found on ThanksforKindness.com.

Horrell said that while it’s a “work in progress,” response to the site – created by Cathy Graham of Graphics Unlimited – has been “very positive.”

And though he has no definite plans, Horrell said he envisions bringing sites like ThanksforKindness.com to other cities.

“We are in the process of replicating what we are doing in Memphis in other cities, specifically Atlanta and Nashville,” he said.

The Kindness Revolution’s yellow smiley face logo is familiar to many Memphians, who’ve seen it advertised on the scoreboard at Grizzlies’ games and other local events.

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