20 July 2008

Time to get a little personal…

One of the great advantages that small businesses have over their large corporate cousins, is the ability to form relationships with their customers. In a big firm, people come and people go, accounts are passed around the business, when customers call they rarely speak to the same person twice. Small businesses have a much greater degree of consistency that customers like. It is nice to be able to call the local butcher to place an order and he knows you, he asks about the family and your plans for the weekend.

As small business owners and operators we should all cultivate the building and developing of these relationships. Take a few minutes to get to know your customers and always use the personal touch for little ways that you can make a visit to your business memorable.

Sometimes it can something as simple as walking through the business talking to your customers, perhaps giving out a few treats or offering advice. I like to make my clients tea or coffee when they come in for an appointment. I often have to fight with my receptionist because she feels that she should do this task, but I enjoy making my clients a drink and I know that they appreciate it. It is a very small thing, but it is personal touch.

The personal touch can extend to small notes of thanks if a client or customer has some good fortune or a reason to celebrate. If in the course of a general conversation you find out that it is their birthday shout them a product of some sort on the spot. Be spontaneous and show the customer that you value their business and you value them as a person.

Some people struggle with spontaneity, but if you work at it, you will be surprised at how good it feels and how appreciated small personal gestures are. I also believe that it is important to encourage your staff to be spontaneous.

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