A couple of days ago, I answered a question on a linkedin group that I thought was interesting:
Should we Send Client Holiday Gifts?
Answer: Yes, but having the right motivation and choosing the right gift is key.
Here are some thoughts:
1. If you need to – don’t:
If we feel not sending a holiday gift would hurt our relationship with the customer, then it’s probably too late. The gift should not be seen as a way to improve the relationship, it will not. Ironically, holiday gifts are most effective when they are not needed.
2. The purpose:
the purpose of the gift is to remind the customer we are thankful for their patronage and are thinking of them at this special time. But the power of the gift is in the opportunity to underscore what our customers should already know and feel about us; that we are aligned with their values; that we care for their success and for them as people. After all, they value us because we add value.
3. The right gift:
Choosing the right gift is not always easy; it should address the purpose above. If the person in charge of maintaining the customer relationship has not thought carefully about what the gift should be then a card is probably best.
4. Personal gifts:
If we’ve developed a personal relationship with our customer then we shouldmake a personal gift in addition to the corporate gesture, where appropriate.
5. No self serving gifts:
Don’t send gifts that are boldly logo-ed, can be seen as advertising or mild reminders of our presence in the market. Save those for the trade show. The customer should remember who sent the gift simply by knowing no-one else would have thought, would know or would care enough to send it. Special offers, pricing are not gifts. Send them at some other time.
6. Make it fun:
We rarely take the time to choose the right gift for a customer if the process is not fun. Encourage relationship managers to think out of the box and to know that choosing the gift is important. Small brainstorm groups for similar customer segments can save time.
7. The same gift?:
There is nothing wrong with sending the same gift to multiple or even all our clients, as long as it hits the mark. In fact, if we can figure out that one gift that shows the essence of what we stand for as a brand, then sending them to every customer, maybe the best thing we could do.
8. A gift for every customer?
Depending on the business, a gift to every customer may or may not be a reasonable undertaking. We should also consider than all customers are not created equal. Some are more strategic and may warrant special attention, while others may suffice with a more generic or less costly approach. I remember sending Christmas cards to 800 customers, where every employee wrote the card’s greeting for two customers and then asked five other colleagues to add their signature and role they played in providing great service.
Regardless of what we choose to do, our token should be true to our purpose and the essence as our company. The customer should remember the gift fondly and after the second year of receiving such a gift, should suspect a potential theme or trend in our effort or choice.
The best business gift I ever received was a research project reviewing the best project management programs along with an independent assessment of which would be best for my company. Beautiful ! – How did you know ?
Happy Holidays !
Committed to XCL