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Build Stronger Relationships this Christmas

Guest blog by Dennis Bridges, MBA

In his latest blog ” Christmas Customer Service Commitment ,”  Matt Graff shared a couple telling customer service stories, highlighting theimportance of a brand’s relationship with its customer. The Christmas season is very much a time of year when we’re thinking about relationships…family, friends, lBuild Stronger Relationships this Christmasoved ones, and of course how to get to and from the mall without losing our sanity! However, the more commercial Christmas hype there is, the easier it is to get caught up in the material aspect of Christmas. What gifts you are buying, how much you should spend, how much someone may spend on you etc.

Christmas is a great time of year to thank customers for their business. To make investments into your customer relationship bank account – so to speak – to show some appreciation, make people feel good and build loyalty to your brand. If you’re making deposits into your customer relationship account this year – and you should – consider the following:

1. Focus on what’s important: It’s not about the price tag or just giving something. Remember to focus on making your gift thoughtful. Is it something they need or want? Will it save them time and effort? Or perhaps look to exceed their expectations?

2. Always be listening: To do this you have to connect with people, you should always be asking customers about their pain points, but most importantly – really listen when they speak, give feedback or describe their expectations from you.

3. Don’t keep score: Don’t expect anything in return for the gifts you give and don’t expect to receive a gift. If you’re asking for something or expecting something in return it’s not a gift at all, and that almost always comes across to the person on the receiving end.

4. Show your appreciation: Sometimes appreciation comes back your way from a customer, colleague or business contact. If the opportunity arises, ensure you show your appreciation.

The following quick story is a great example of the listening skills I mentioned above and an opportunity to thank others when they pay it forward. I’ve been working with a guy in the sales department of one of our longer standing customers. A couple of weeks ago he made me a friend for life with a very simple gesture. I’ve been looking for a Contigo travel mug for a long time (really great for avoiding spills!), but have never bought one. On one of my more recent visits, as we sipped our morning coffee, I commented on his company branded Contigo mug. Without thinking twice, he said “How about I give you one for Christmas?!”. Simple, but it made my day and I’ve been carrying it around with me ever since. He saved me time, effort and exceeded my expectations all at the same time. A thoughtful gift with a minor cost.

With only a few weeks left before Christmas, what relationship investments will you make this December? How can you build stronger relationships for the beginning of 2014?

photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via photopin cc

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