Thank God It's Monday™ e-zine by Roxanne Emmerich
Forward to a friend Issue: 101
October 25, 2010
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Dear Roxanne,
I've just taken over our company's client communications and I can't believe what we've been sending out. Our top-dollar clients get a "Dear Sir or Madam" letter—I'm not kidding! Am I right to think that's crazy? If so, what should be my guiding principles for this position?

- Thomas D.

Dear Thomas,
Wow, save that "Sir or Madam" letter for a museum! You are certainly not crazy. And I'll bet by your question that you also know a simple mail-merge that plops the name in won't do the trick either. It's about relationships, and this week's column will tell you how to build them through meaningful client contact. Good luck!

- Roxanne

Do you have a question about how to handle a situation or a relationship in the workplace? Ask Roxanne!


Getting the Relationship Right

There was a time when the auto-personalized form letter made customers feel special. Just seeing their name in the salutation—even when misspelled, off-kilter and in a different font—just blew people away.

But once personal computing introduced us all to the mail merge, people began to see it as exactly the opposite—a low-energy parlor trick designed to give the appearance of care when there is none. It didn't really make clients feel important to the company, which means it didn't really establish a relationship.

And if you're not in a relationship, the client just might start seeing other people.

Those customer service pioneers began finding ways to make clients feel less like acquaintances and more like Very Important Persons—with special emphasis on the word "Important." And why shouldn't they? Without the client, the company ceases to exist. It was a recognition of a very real mutual need.

So how can you make your clients feel their importance? A few tips:

  1. Drop a dime. Call each client one or more times per quarter (depending on the relationship) and simply ask, “How are things going?” Listen. It creates opportunities for solutions.
  2. Be of profound service to them. Send them valuable information EVERY month with no exception. It might be an article, a top 10 list of your own creation, a list of web resources, or a personal story of financial success in challenging times. Accompany the piece with a letter signed by you—just a few lines that say, "Thought you’d appreciate this information. Let us know if you have any questions." Make sure the information ties into your brand and what you offer but (this is crucial) is NOT salesy in any way.
  3. Invite them to be on your advisory board. You need client input, and many of your clients will jump at the chance to give it. Some may even be looking to fill in a gap in "business and community engagement" on their résumés.
  4. Send them referrals. Want to win the undying gratitude and steadfast loyalty of a client? Keep their businesses in mind and send a customer or two or five their way. You'll certainly want to do a bit of research so you can refer with confidence, but once you have, don't miss an opportunity. When a referral goes well, everybody wins.
  5. Invite clients to be on a teleseminar for other clients WITH you to show others how to best use your product.

And never forget to simply ASK your clients what you can do to keep your relationship healthy and moving forward for years to come.


When to Reach Out to Your Clients

Once you've figured out how to reach out, the next question is when. There are a thousand good excuses to make that touch. Here are just a few:

  1. To introduce a new product, service, web feature, etc.
  2. To recognize a significant landmark or change in the client's circumstances (a move, acquisition, birth, death, anniversary, etc.)
  3. To advise the client about responding to a change in the industry or economy
  4. To recommend products or services outside your company
  5. To thank the client for recent or ongoing business
  6. To simply see if there's anything you can do for him or her

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The Enlightened Business Summit starts today and runs through October 29th as a complimentary offering from The Shift Network and will be hosted by Chip Conley, author of Peak and one of the most popular speakers at this year’s TED conference. Sign up now for this teleseminar ›


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