This week, our nation celebrates an annual tradition of expressing thankfulness for our many individual blessings. In thinking about this, I’m reminded how we should also not forget to infuse an “attitude of gratitude” in dealing with our customers.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, one often sees companies sending best wishes to customers in the form of small gifts and goodies. However, when dealing with government customers, this is generally not allowed, even in small amounts.
So how do you say “thank you” without breaking any rules? Here are a few suggestions not limited to a single season of the year:
Send a handwritten note. I confess my utter hypocrisy in making this suggestion. However, it is clearly an underutilized and meaningful way to express gratitude to customers (I feel a New Year’s resolution coming on). In our world of email and text-messaging, an actual signature is a rare and beautiful thing.
Send nuggets of helpful information throughout the year. This is not a difficult task and doesn’t cost a thing. The form of a newsletter is OK, but even better is a personal email with links to specific and helpful information. It lets customers know you’re thinking about them and their unique needs.
Give customers exclusive access to important product or company information prior to its public release (if possible). As a way of saying thanks for being a “Silver Member” customer, I just received an email from Best Buy giving me access to the Black Friday electronics specials before they’re released to the general public. Good stuff. I feel appreciated and will most likely take advantage of the opportunity. While this is not completely applicable to government procurement, the principle remains the same. Look for ways of sharing internal information (product releases, training opportunities, etc.) to customers in a special or exclusive way as a means for making them feel appreciated (NOTE: Please make sure this is an approved corporate program–I’m not suggesting you share any insider corporate secrets.)
Follow up. Many times, we as salespeople are guilty of “hit and runs.” We make a sale, then run to the next prospect, leaving customers feeling abandoned and under-appreciated. Even if you must hand-off the account to a customer relations department, take the time to follow up on how the project implementation is going or call to see how satisfied the customer is with your product or service. Such interest shows sincere appreciation and concern for maintaining a long-term relationship.
In between stuffing your face with turkey and napping between ballgames this week, renew your commitment to showing customers your appreciation. Chances are, there will be even more to be thankful for next year if you do.
Happy Thanksgiving—oh, and thanks to all our valued customers and blog readers! (Now what did I do with that stationery…)