Christmas has come and gone and if your kids are like my younger grandchild, the Santa Claus thing is not quite scaring them anymore and they are back to being unruly and you have got to think of something new to challenge them to behave. It's just not close enough to Christmas and they are still enjoying their haul from this visit from Santa Claus. But as an "adult" business owner, even if you are still enjoying your "haul" from Christmas, what are you doing to make the rest of the year, "just like Christmas" for your customers. Santa Claus is coming to town at the end of this year, will you be ready? If he checks off the list for your customer service, will you be listed naughty or nice?
Here are some tips that spell out Christmas and could help you to give Customer Service like Santa Claus all year long.
C Christmas Attitude all year round: At Christmas people are giving and warm and polite, they smile a lot and wish you all types of good will. Here’s a novel idea. Create a Christmas climate in your business all year long. Think it’s hard for you to do this and how will you have the time? Imagine Santa in his sleigh visiting all those people around the world in one night. Wow, sort of puts things in perspective doesn’t it.
Simple thins to put into effect, how about warm wishes and smiles. Santa Claus was a jolly fellow and as a child I wondered where he was the rest of the year and what he did in the heat of the summer. Well, wherever he summered I am sure that he did not put his “good will” in the closet. Find ways to create good will in your business all year long. It may be as simple as a thank you e-mail, a thank you card or calling once in a while to keep in touch.
H Heart: Reading a book called Cash in a Flash and it talks about Wowing yourself. Your goal should be to put so much heart into your Customer service that as a customer, YOU would not go anywhere else but to YOU. Little things count as well as big. A little extra, the huge red bow on top of the car when it’s delivered. A new shop in the
R—Repeat Customers are a great source of income much easier to keep an old customer and cheaper
than to attract a new one. Do you have a relationship with your customer? Do they feel like they are part of your family, your business family. Special events and special deals are not just for the outside world. I just heard of a Pet Salon who had a customer appreciation Day for the owners of the pets. She brought in chair massages and wax hand treatments for the owners of the pets. She traded out with pet owners who had the services she needed. Who is in your network that can make this happen? Take note: Santa is a guy that kids wait for all year. Do your customers wait on you because you have a relationship with them or will they bolt at the first sign of a better price?
I Individuality is important. I recently had a friend who told me that her husband came home one day and said that he was leaving because he needed his individuality. Aside from my compassion for my friend I thought, what if your customers felt the same way. Are you constantly trying to force a product down their throat that they may or may not need. Have you thought about doing an in person survey with your best customers to find out what new product or service would excite them? The best businesses are adapted to the customer’s needs. Remember when you spend your ill gotten or hard earned profits, you are spending your customers money? Santa would never bring you a toy jeep when you really wanted a fire truck.
S--- Service, service, service! Find extra ways to go above and beyond. One of my clients is a dry cleaner and wanted to figure out a way to help others and his customers too. We found a program called Dress for Success which takes in business clothing for women getting back into the workplace after unfortunate circumstances. He served his clients by becoming a drop off center for the clothing so that his ladies could clean out their closets and he served the community also. What can you do extra for your clients and for your community. I am reminded of Santa’s knee where you can leave other concerns besides what you want for Christmas.
T Time: Give your customers your time. Find out about their families and their goals and dreams. It may be just a way to get to know them but it will give you that special edges. Relate to your customers on a personal level, using phone calls, thank-you notes, personally selected items and in-store conversations that show you care. Santa visits each house himself.
M Memories—make memories with your family of clients. Be the one who showed up when someone was sick or helped during a family crisis. Some times just the offer of help is a great thing. Here’s where those customer service parties help. I will bet you that a free networking event of all of your clients where they can meet each other would inspire some cross marketing, some friendships. I have an attorney client who has a Christmas party every year. His clients not only come to seek him out but he makes sure to introduce everyone and next year the people who met because of him look for each other. Ever met someone in the Santa line that you bumped into the following year and it was pleasant to run into them, wasn’t it???
A “A” rate your customers and your prospects. They need to feel like they are the finest people in the world. Santa is of course always in a rush but even in the busy department stores the good “Santas” find out something special about each child. What do you know about your clients that makes them special. How do you make each one of them feel special?
S Say it loud, say it clear 365 days a year, the people who do business with you are the finest people in the world. JoAnn Forrester of SI Business Associates sends out an e-mail. Has been doing it for years. It’s called Weekly Biz Thoughts. Since most of her clients are business owners these are daily tips to help business owners and entrepreneurs get through their week. This keeps her in their thoughts every day of the week and for 30 years plus people have been coming back to her and referring customers to her. What do kids do when Christmas Day has come and gone, they are counting the days until NEXT Christmas. You should be counting the days of the year and every day finding a new way to keep in touch with your clients to provide valuable information to them.
D Doing is better than talking about it. If you promise to find some information even about a product that you don’t provide or a service or make a contact, be sure to do that for your prospects and clients. Good will always comes back to you. How do you think that so many people knew about Santa or some legendary gift and merriment giver long before books? Because someone passed the word along about this jolly fellow. No good deed remains unrewarded either by the recipient or someone who hears about it.
A Always put your customer first. Make sure that you listen to their wants and needs. Anticipate their latest and newest concern. Remember Santa makes a list and checks it twice. Are you continually gauging your customer’s satisfaction with your product and service? You should be!
Y Yesterday is gone and you can continue to live on it for some time. But just like the Janet Jackson Song your Customers will want to know, “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” How about cross promotions for non competitive businesses that help both your customer base and another business. A newsletter with good tips related to your services but not selling anything. Start making a list. Those kiddies are already thinking about What Santa Will be bringing them next year.
E Extras. Always give something to your clients, a free report, online free seminars, gift wrapping. If you are on a budget how about a call or e-mail on holidays they might like to remember. Ask them for birthday and anniversaries not just for themselves but for family members so if you have gifts items for sale they will not only get a reminder to buy the gift but they might buy it from you. Use your imagination.
So it’s 331 days until Christmas and as the Santa Claus to your customers what are you doing to help them to be GOOD Customers and hang with you until Christmas and beyond?
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© Joanne Quinn-Smith 2011, Monday Morning Marketeer™ 412-628-5048
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Joanne Quinn-Smith is the Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates in
and an expert on Web 2.0 Branding. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Joanne has also been designated by the 2009 U.S. Small Business Administration as the Small Business Journalist of the Year for her work with information relevant to and advocacy of small businesses.
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