The new year is well underway. I have now consumed the one pound box of See’s candy that I get from our bookkeeper every year, so I know. Of course I consume it as quickly as I can, so I don’t have to endure the constant guilt of knowing it’s bad for me. I don’t have my wife’s self-discipline; she can nurse a 3-ounce chocolate bar over the course of a week. She also has other powers that are awesome beyond belief.
Obviously I love See’s candy — all kinds: dark or light, the nuts, the chews, the soft centers, all of them. But I don’t just like the taste of See’s candy; I like the principal of getting See’s candy — or something like it, especially at Christmas.
The reason our bookkeeper knows this is because until a few years ago, before we brought most of our printing in-house, we used to give almost all of our printing business to one printer. Our annual printing expenditure with this printer was the equivalent of a good-sized roofer’s workers’ comp premium: in other words, sizeable. And every year when the fruit and wine and sausage and cheese baskets would arrive from other vendors, we received nothing from this vendor. Not even a Season Greetings card.
I am not above expressing certain uncharitable thoughts from time to time and my bookkeeper, God love her, picked up on this. So now I get my See’s candy every year — from her.
I’m not going to say that the reason we don’t use this printer any more is because of the candy. That would be ridiculous. But I do think that part of the reason I was inclined to consider alternatives to giving most of our print work to this vendor was that their inattention to this aspect of customer service slightly annoyed me.
Do you think that your customers might be slightly annoyed with you if the only thing you ever send them is a renewal policy and invoice every year? Do you add any kind of value that is non-transactional? It doesn’t have to be a box of candy. A calendar, a newsletter — preferably print, since print just makes a better presentation — even a birthday card?
Yes, you offer professional services and are always available to answer questions. My printer, too, did good work. If he hadn’t, we would have fired him long before we did. Your clients will fire you, too, if you don’t deliver professional service.
One lesson we learn again and again — it’s the underpinning of the social media phenomenon — is that people want to be appreciated. It’s just part of providing good customer service.
A calendar or newsletter won’t by themselves make your customers raving fans, but they can’t hurt. And you might avoid creating that slightly annoyed feeling that some of your less charitable clients, if they’re like me, might feel at times.