16th December, 2015
Let’s face it. Christmas cards are a nice idea, but do you actually end up keeping them? Even if they’re stuffed in the back of a drawer somewhere, you rarely get them out and have a look.
Yet we insist on buying them every year and sending them to clients. But if you stop and think about it, is a piece of cardboard the best way to tell your customers that you value their business?
Building customer relationships is something you do every day of the year, not just during the Christmas season. It’s not enough to send them a “thank you” every now and then. You should completely reframe the way you think about your clients – not just as people who buy your services, but as partners.
There’s nothing wrong with a Christmas card. But you can do more. If you put the time and effort into making sure your clients are taken care of, then that Christmas card will feel infinitely more valuable, rather than tokenistic.
Here are four things you should do during the next year to make sure your clients feel valued – and not just during the holiday season.
1. Regular calls
No one calls people anymore. All communication is through texting, email or social media. So when you get a call, you know it’s really important.
So why don’t you send that signal to your clients?
If you schedule in a regular call for your clients, you’ll begin to form a habit. More importantly, your clients will actually expect you to call. You’ll develop a relationship that goes beyond seller and buyer.
Plus, those conversations will reveal opportunities for mutual benefit. A problem that needs solving, an industry trend that you can keep on top of. Maybe even something about their families.
Once you actually get to know this information, you can add a personal touch to your Christmas cards that will help yours stand out.
2. Remember details
Remember details about your clients’ businesses and lives. During conversation, ask questions referring to prior conversations. How did they end up resolving that issue they were dealing with last time you spoke? Did they end up hiring for that critical role? How has their daughter dealt with her first year of high school?
Along with regularly contacting your clients and engaging with them on the details of their businesses, emphasise that they can call on you for business help at any time.
Chances are, you’ll go months without a call. But the one time they have a problem, they’ll call on you. And that could well be an opportunity to win a client over for life.
3. Share information
People like knowing that you care. If you come across an interesting article, or something that would benefit your client, send it along to them. Any information helps.
Remember, if your client succeeds, you do too. Take an interest in their success and send them relevant information.
4. Ask for regular feedback
Asking for feedback is never easy. But if you want to build trust between yourself and your clients, regularly asking about how to make your service better is essentially a responsibility.
It might be a little difficult, and you may not always like what you hear, but asking partners for feedback will make sure you’re establishing a relationship that’s built on trust. That trust is worth more than a token gesture at the end of the year.
Christmas cards are fine. But making an effort during the remaining 11 months of the year will actually make the message worthwhile.