It’s the holiday season and a time when you want to generously and thoughtfully thank your clients/customers for their support and business over the past year. Whether they are new or established clients/customers, make sure that you set a budget, stick to it and choose see their gifts and cards with care, creativity and consideration. It is important that you view these gifts and cards as opportunities to win or lose business and build or destroy relationships. Here are four suggestions.
Choose the Gift – Avoid a one size fits all gift for your clients/customers. While it is probably logistically and financially easier for you, it is important to consider the message that you are conveying when you give everyone the same gift. Some of your clients/customers may feel that you see them as neither unique nor special instead of seeing them as members of your exclusive club of valued and special clients/customers. Some of your biggest and most important clients/customers may feel that they have made a significant contribution to your success and profitability and should be recognized for giving you so much business. If they find out that you have given the same gift to everyone regardless of how much business they have given to you, they may feel that you have lowered your standards and that this may affect the quality of product and/or level of service that you will be giving them in the coming year. This may not be your intention but once you send a gift, you have no control over the response of the recipient. There is a delicate balance when giving gifts to clients/customers. You don’t want to be too extravagant lest they think that you have been spending their money to buy their gift and you don’t want to be too cheap lest they think that you are hoarding the profits and unwilling to share them with the people who got you there. If the gift is not just right, it may cause you to lose business if a competitor delivers a gift that is simply thoughtful and thoughtfully simple.
Here’s what to do to give the right gift, keep their business and get even more business in the coming year. Ask your client/customer what gift they would like to receive from you. Many of them may have a favourite charity and would be thrilled with a donation made in their name. Others may have a favourite shop or restaurant that they patronize and would love a gift card from this establishment. Having this conversation with them shows them that you are paying attention, caring about them and valuing their business.
Personalize the Card – Some people have hundreds of clients/customers and merely sign their name at the bottom of a holiday card. At this time of year, your clients/customers receive many such cards, glance at them, display them and then put them in the recycling bin in the New Year. You want your card to stand out so that your client/customer will read it, remember it, keep it and contact you to give you more business in the New Year. Take the time to write a personal message with four key points on each card. First, thank the client/ customer for their business over the past year; second, communicate how you would welcome the opportunity to work with them in the New Year; third, wish them health, happiness, peace and prosperity in the New Year and fourth, tell them a date when you will contact them.
Deliver the Gift and the Card – If your client/customer is easily accessible to you then make the time to deliver the gift and the card yourself. Avoid delegating this task to your assistant or an outsider. See this visit as an opportunity to wish your client/customer the very best of the holiday season and to start the conversation to win more business. Your client/customer will appreciate that you took the time to deliver their gift and card in person as a commitment to strengthening your business relationship which will probably result in more business for you.
Follow Up With Your Client/Customer – If you are unable to deliver the gift and the card in person, follow up to make sure that the gift and the card arrived and, if you can, speak with your client /customer to get their response to both the gift and the card. Have a fantastic holiday season. Before you start celebrating, do one last thing. Make a list of all of the clients/customers that you want to follow up with in the New Year and make it your number one priority when you return from your holiday.
Remember that the time, care and attention rather than the money you spend on the gifts and cards that you give to your clients/customers can be money, goodwill and business lost if you get it wrong and money, loyalty and business gained if you get it right.