It seems to be that time of year, where the question has come up again about how to appropriately say thank you to your customers and networking contacts or (to my horror) whether you should even take the time to send a thank you.
Just today I came across two references on this topic. One referred to the sales benefits you could attain by saying thanks (at all times of the year), and the other was around the topic of whether to send holiday cards as a way to show a business’ appreciation.
In the blog post by Julian Bush on Financenk’s, business development blog, called 4 Ways to increase Sales by Showing Gratitude to Customers he addresses four key areas about appreciation. This article was totally up my ally as it had overall resounding support of showing and thinking about appreciation at all times. Bush’s first two points supported my belief that your customers and networking contacts deserve the time to say thanks. It’s his view that to succeed in business is to show gratitude.
Here are the two points that resonated with me regarding the client and network perspective:
Those who have helped you.
He recommends taking time each day to send a thank you message via email, text, or Internet greeting card, (See my recommendation for this last one) to those who may have, for example, referred a client or helped you in some way.
I agree, though for me, every day might be too overwhelming and I’d want to ensure that the act of showing my appreciation was meaningful vs. a chore. (It would NOT however, be dependent upon how large or small the act of assistance or kindness was.)
Are you appreciative for knowing someone?
Bush’s expression of gratitude expands to all who positively impact your life. This could be your family, your friends, your customers and colleagues. He believes that to share this appreciation will attract more of the same assistance and likely reciprocal gratitude your way.
His last two areas talk to written affirmation of what your thankful for as a whole, and in your daily life. Both are worth a review.
Bush sums up his post with the statement that by taking the time to show gratitude to your clients will reap the rewards of deep loyalty, an increase in client retention and profits. I really can’t argue this fact, as many of my clients have remained close over the span of 10-12 years. I think this partly due to my ongoing recognition of their assistance and simply their support of my business and/or services.
This leads me to the second reference I found today. I came across this in one of my LinkedIn Groups, Sticky Branding. A lead contributor, Jeremy Miller, posed the question, “What’s your take on the practice of sending season’s greetings cards to clients.” While the response ran the gamut of sending personalized cards, to ones that go out at Thanksgiving or New Year’s, the answer was a resounding “YES!” Again, I’m fully in support. We should always extend our appreciation to those who have helped along the way.
Each year around this time, I feel lucky as I start compiling a list of customers, clients, network contacts, and colleagues who have been instrumental to my success over the past year. Just prior to the Christmas holiday, I’ll send out cards (both traditional, non-secular printed cards or an email card (see my post on a great resource) wishing this group, “Season’s Greetings” and a reminder of how much their help, their business or general goodwill to me during the year has meant. This list truly reminds me of how blessed I’ve been. *NOTE: I don’t see these cards as taking the place of the acknowledgement I would have sent at the time of the action/assistance.
There were many takes on the timing of these cards. Some proposed the Thanksgiving holiday time – which I agree, is right in line with the holiday’s meaning as we think about it today. Others expounded on the “Christmas” card time frame, still others a New Year’s timing.
While I personally aim for Christmas, I thought the New Year’s group had a point. Perhaps if I delayed my delivery slight, my card could provide more impact. My card/message would be seen/read and break through the clutter. However, I did disagree with the strategy some who’s goal was to send these notes to increase business. I send my holiday cards as a message of appreciation and thanks. I’d like to think that no matter my timing, that the sentiment (and yes I do include a personalized 1-2 sentence thank you on each and every card I send) would be received/appreciated no matter when it reaches my recipients mail/in box.