Have you noticed a change in people that creeps up early in December? It’s a bizarre mixture of anticipation, madly cramming to complete jobs that just have to be done before Christmas, partying and quite a bit of shopping. There’s a level of pressure about the looming deadline (which for many of us is also the end of trading for the year), but also a sense of beginning to relax into the summer (and often a well-earned holiday). Yet even with so much more happening, we seem to make the effort to
- Go the extra mile – happily
- Spend time with the people who are special to us (whether in business, friends or family)
- Say thank you
- Show our team (whether they’re employees or suppliers) that they’re appreciated
- Give more generously
All this Christmas goodwill is wonderful, but it seems a shame that it’s concentrated into such a short period. Would your business benefit if you applied some goodness outside of the silly season? Could it pay dividends because other businesses have turned off the gratitude switch until next December? How might that play out?
- Go the extra mile According to a recent survey from ZenDesk, 85 per cent of customers would pay up to 25 per cent more to ensure a superior customer service experience. That’s a great reason to find more ways to delight your customers. Start by mapping out the customer experience you give now. Look at every interaction they have with your business. Then brainstorm what you could add or improve (or remove, if it’s something that’s getting in the customer’s way). In small business, we have the advantage of being nimble, but we need also to play a long game. As Katherine Barchetti, an upmarket US retailer, once said Make a customer, not a sale
- Spend time with people who are special to us How often do you call your customers – or make the time to meet them? For some businesses, it’s an everyday event. For others, it’s almost too easy to keep people at arm’s length. Even if you can do business exclusively online, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t connect in other ways. Spending time with people face to face changes the relationship, and its an invaluable way to get really honest feedback about what’s going right, and wrong, for your customers. Better still, it’s a brilliant process to help nail giving your customers what they really want.
- Make the effort to say thank you We all know how easy it is to automate electronic communications. And that’s fantastic for keeping tightly connected with your customers. But it means electronic greetings and thanks have pretty low perceived value. If you take a bit more time, and/or spend a little money, on a tangible thank you, the effect is massively enhanced. It could be as simple as posting a Thank You card (with your branding for added impact), or it might be a gift, or a thank you lunch. The key word here is effort.
- Show your team that they’re appreciated These are the people who really make your business tick, so showing you care isn’t a once a year thing. We all need our team (employees and suppliers) rowing in the same direction as us, so make sure they know how important they are – and how valued. This could be as simple as saying thank you and giving praise for a job well done, or you might choose a more expansive gesture. The important thing is that it’s not just an annual event.
- Give generously How often does your business give away something? It could be really useful information, or an opportunity to attend an event, a special product deal from you, or a great offer from a partner business. Could you offer an incentive to refer a friend? People love receiving benefits, and they also love to share great experiences with friends. Gift vouchers are a brilliant way to allow your customers to tangibly share.
Isn’t it funny that we can do all these things for a few weeks at the end of the year, but so often go back into the bunker in January? Could you hold onto some of these when you come back to your desk after Christmas? It feels great to give – and what goes around often comes around.