That’s right… gratitude is a QUALITY!
As our Thanksgiving holiday draws near, I got to thinking about a friend of mine who always sends out her company’s greeting cards at this time of year, instead of the Christmas season. It catches my attention and, because I’m focused upon gratefulness, I think of her as somebody sincerely grateful to have a relationship with me when I receive her card.
Somehow, during the winter holidays, the business greeting cards just didn’t seem to mean quite as much to me as that one I receive near Thanksgiving. But the business-related Christmas cards were always fun to put on my wall or desk at work. Sometimes I even got a nice calendar.
One year we had a contest to see who at my office would get the most cards from people outside of the company as part of our holiday celebration. Because of their unfair advantage, Buyers in Purchasing were not allowed to participate, of course. The contest was announced just one day before the party, so there was no time for contestants to call people and tell them to send a card. It was fun. The great thing the Buyers were able to do is host a table filled with a seemingly endless supply of baskets, boxes and trays of goodies received from vendors… starting the first week of December. If you craved a nice piece of chocolate candy or a cookie… it was a good idea to swing by Purchasing. Sometimes, they would put the vendor’s business card near the gift they had sent. It was fun to see who had gone to the trouble. It was also interesting to notice how little companies tended to send BIG gifts and BIG companies tended to send little gifts. Harrumph. Purchasing enjoyed being the most popular department in the company during December and it was an interesting source of conversation.
But what can be done throughout the rest of the year to show our Clients how glad we are that they do business with us? And what can we do to express appreciation to our best Suppliers? The best business relationships go both ways, don’t they?
Well, I did some digging and found quite a few articles about this topic, mostly written from the perspective of things to do for customers or clients…. but I think the same strategies could also be used to thank a great supplier.
I came up with eight (8) key categories of gratitude expression (in no particular order):
- Acknowledgement (underrated but incredibly important)
- Charitable Gifting (socially responsible)
- Celebration Events (usually lots of work, not necessarily expensive, memorable)
- Personal Gifts (most common, often most costly, sometimes unappreciated)
- Loyalty Rewards (basic courtesy but often overlooked)
- Notes and Letters (simple, nearly free, outstanding value)
- Being Human (borderline stalking but extremely effective)
- Referrals, Endorsements and Recommendations (least common, most appreciated)
Details for each category, including potential resources, are provided below.
- Don’t forget the ‘little guys’. Their cumulative good will can add up to big things. A note or small gift may be more appreciated by a ‘little guy’ than a ‘big guy’. ‘Little guys’ often become ‘big guys’ and, when they do, they might remember that you appreciated them even when they were too small to matter much to others.
- Thank those who complained, because most don’t bother and just take their business elsewhere; the ones who complained actually tried to help you.
- Do something of real substance with feedback… and then share what you did with them.
- Charitable Gifting
- Make a donation to a charity on behalf of your recipient. For example, with $18 you can help alleviate world poverty by gifing a pair of mating chickens to a struggling family on behalf of your Client or Supplier (https://www.oxfamgifts.com/gifts/donate-chickens/).
- Celebration Events
- Do something outrageously memorable for a Client or Supplier Rep, personally.
- Go where your Client or Supplier Rep is and spend quality time with them, one-on-one.
- While traveling, look up Reps from Clients or Suppliers in the area you are visiting and meet with them for a cup of tea or coffee. Let them pick their favorite shop.
- Invite your Clients and/or Suppliers to learn something new at an event you host or attend with them.
- Throw a Client and/or Supplier appreciation party or picnic and invite all of them. Commemorate the event with photos that they can take away. Incorporate your company logo into a backdrop, a photo holder or embossed onto the actual photo.
- Personal Gifts
- You can send a personal video that will arrive on your recipient’s mobile phone within 60 seconds of your ‘Thank you’ gift being delivered through Vift (https://go.vift.com/ ). The cost is less than $2. All you need is their mobile phone number and the tracking number for their gift.
- Give a hard copy of a book that inspired what your recipient told you they appreciate most about the way you do business with them and include a personal note. If you have authored (or co-authored) a book, share a free copy as a gift and write a personal note to them in it.
- Send a sweet treat. Cookies for some, fruit for others, or let your client select their own favorite treat assortment through SugarWish (https://sugarwish.com/ ).
- Send a gift card. Starbucks cards begin at $5 and can be imprinted with your logo (http://www.starbuckscardb2b.com/gift-cards/Thank-You-Orange/p/COB110024). You can even provide your recipients with mobile gift cards good at more than 200 retailers with the Gyft app (https://www.gyft.com/).
- Send a tasteful but humorous little gift, such as those available from fiverr.com (https://www.fiverr.com/categories/lifestyle/arts-crafts-gifts?source=category_header_tags&page=1&filter=rating). You can get any of the following for just $5 ea.: a customized wooden guitar pick, a pencil portrait, word art, a photo of yours or your recipient’s company logo in foam on top of coffee in 4 different types of coffee mugs, 40 multi-colored origami hearts, and the list goes on and on and on…
- Send (upscale) company swag (t-shirts, useful tools for home and office, etc).
- Send a gift uniquely associated with where your business is located (for instance, wine-related items from Napa, customized playing cards from Las Vegas, an umbrella from Seattle, sunglasses from Hollywood, etc.)
- For more traditional (and pricey) corporate gift giving, consider using a gift giving service, such as the Ruhling Group (http://ruhlingroup.com/ ) or Loop and Tie (https://www.loopandtie.com/marketing/businesses ). For the more progressive among us, there’s an app for that! Go mobile with the 3-click gift service via Giftogram (http://www.giftagram.com/2016-corporate-gift-guide/ ).
- Ship gifts to recipients in up to 180 different countries around the world through GiftsNIdeas (http://www.giftsnideas.com/gifts/send-corporate-gifts-to-usa ).
- Send your Client or Supplier a personalized monogrammed wooden sticky-note holder from the JoyfulMoose on ETSY for their desk as a ‘Thank You’ (https://www.etsy.com/listing/472668321/monogram-sticky-note-holder-office-gift?ga_search_query=monogrammed+sticky+note+holder&ref=shop_items_search_1 ).
- Loyalty Rewards
- Enlist your Clients in a loyalty rewards program for their repeat business and referrals.
- Offer exclusive gifts only to recipients who follow your business and share your company’s posts on social media sites.
- If you can offer a surprise service upgrade, do it…. or reduce a Client’s bill with a VIP discount or top customer bonus.
- If you have a store, walk over to browsing clients with a small gift suited for them and your business… and/or hold a special after hours event open only to invited Clients and/or Suppliers.
- Send a special “thank you” to Clients and Suppliers who have helped your company hit a significant milestone… first year in business, 100th client, anniversary of first sale, etc.
- Notes and Letters
- Thank Clients immediately… with more than an ‘autoresponder’.
- Sign your own name in a card or letter. Don’t just use the company name or a business card in your ‘Thank You’ efforts.
- Send a handwritten note. If you don’t have time to handwrite all of the cards or notes you would like to send to your Clients, use a robot through Handwrytten (https://www.handwrytten.com/ ). Postage is included and prices start as low as $3.
- Refer to something unique from a previous conversation with your client in your ‘Thank You’ note.
- Personalize correspondence with stickers, colored markers, glitter or other embellishments.
- Consider sending company greeting cards on ‘non-traditional’ celebration days…. like Pi Day (March 14th). This will help your company stand out and not get lost in the crowd. Wikipedia has a HUGE list of such days: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_the_United_States .
- Send an ANIMATED greeting card… and you could even include a gift subscription to the animated greeting card service for your recipient as a gift. Jacquie Lawson’s animated cards are classy, beautiful and include the ability to send any of over 350 cards to as many recipients as you wish for as low as $10 per year with a 2-year membership (http://www.jacquielawson.com/).
- Being Human
- Make service REALLY personal. Have a caring, helpful, enthusiastic, human being answer client phone calls and not read from a script.
- Send a card or gift to help a client celebrate a special life event or achievement in their life (new promotion, new job, new business, new baby, wedding, anniversary, etc.).
- Browse your client’s social media to find specific likes, dislikes or little ‘problems’ expressed by those you work with personally… and send them a gift that makes things better or acknowledges their preferences with classy empathy, fun and/or a satisfying solution. Example: If they post this: “My local store just stopped carrying my favorite candy, CHoward’s Violet Mints. Now I’ll have to drive over 20 miles to find another store that carries them!”, send them this:
- If your relationship with your client relies upon providing them with ongoing services, send them a ‘report card’ on how you’re doing with regard to your services for them. Make it colorful and fun. Include photos or art, if possible.
- Referrals, Endorsements and Recommendations
- Send leads/referrals to your Clients and Suppliers.
- Endorse and/or recommend your Clients and Suppliers on social media sites, such as LinkedIn. If you’re not sure how, look it up. Click here for an article about recommending colleagues on LinkedIn.
- FOLLOW and LIKE your Clients’ and Suppliers’ social media pages and posts.
- SHARE Client and Supplier posts with YOUR social media networks.
- Say “Thank You” to Clients and Suppliers on Twitter and your Company Website. Stick to the 140-word maximum. Include a pertinent photo, logo or web link.
- Thank Client and Supplier ‘indirectly’, such as by expressing your gratitude to their supervisor or nominating them for a third party business award.
I hope these tips are helpful to you as we move into the fall and winter holiday seasons. The ultimate objective of this little white paper is to improve the quality of the relationships we have with one another. I plan to apply some of what I learned while researching this article myself.
May your celebrations be full of joy, good will and rewarding relationships!
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