“Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you, I appreciate you, and I think you’re amazing in every way. You had me at hello!”
Those are words we express–and really like to hear–from those we love each year on February 14th. But shouldn’t we express love and appreciation to people we care about everyday? And what about our customers? Shouldn’t our customers feel important everyday… rather than just certain days of the year?
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. And while I truly appreciate thoughtful expressions of love and gratitude, it always seems forced and a bit superficial when given only on Valentine’s Day. I’m certain of this because it feels dramatically different to receive flowers, gifts, or letters of appreciation when I wasn’t expecting it. This got me thinking…
How do we express appreciation, concern, gratefulness, and kindness to our customers? Is it forced and prompted by particular circumstances?
Your customers should know how much you appreciate them and value them all the time, not just when your contract is up for renewal or when you’re in jeopardy of losing their business. Perhaps the notion of Valentine’s Day serves a good reminder to take time to show people we care about how much they mean to us. And that’s a good thing. Taking the time to plan expressions of thanks or appreciation is a very good thing.
Following are three ideas you might consider as you’re planning to show your clients how much you appreciate them throughout the year:
- One month after you’ve created your partnership, write them a handwritten letter and have the mailman deliver it. Tell them how excited you are about the opportunity to build your partnership and express your dedication to it. We cherish handwritten letters from our loved ones, but it’s rare that we get handwritten letters of thanks and appreciation from business associates. When we do, it always feels a bit more special than a mere email or spoken word.
- Think about the specific goals for your partnership, why they’ve hired you and your company. As you’re measuring performance and keeping track of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), when they achieve success congratulate them and their team! And depending on their personality and the dynamics of your relationship, there are literally thousands of ways you might express this… you could send them a giant cookie bouquet, a theme-decorated cake from a local bakery, flowers or a nice plant, a box of cigars, a singing telegram to their office, tickets to a concert or upcoming local show, a catered lunch, a hosted happy hour after work for the team who made it happen, a gift certificate for a day at the spa, etc. Notice… many of these expressions of appreciation could also be great for your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Yes, the card would read differently… but expressions of gratitude are universal!
- Think about the articles, books, and blogs you read to sharpen your thinking or expand your knowledge base. When you come across something that you think is particularly insightful and useful, share it with your clients. If it’s a great book you’ve just read, you might buy it on Amazon and ship it directly to them along with a personal note that says, “I just finished this book and found it incredibly insightful. It’s an intelligent perspective on leading salespeople; it does an incredible job of differentiating coaching and managing. Based on our many conversations about talent development, I think you will appreciate this book!” If reading a magazine, newspaper, or blog… you could do the same by simply emailing or mailing the specific article. Sending your customers information or insight about things they’re interested in demonstrates that you’re paying attention to them and you understand their needs. Your customers will appreciate that! Again, not so far off from what we seek in our personal relationships.
Valentine’s Day is indeed a good reminder to think about the people in our lives we appreciate and care about. This thinking should expand outside of our personal relationships and include the many professional relationships that we truly value. Feeling appreciated and valued never gets old, so think about how you can continue to show the folks who make a difference in your life that you care about them throughout the year. Continuing to establish a personal connection with your customers will help you strengthen your relationship and grow your partnership!