Business is Personal

Posted on Apr 2, 2012

It goes without saying that business interactions should always be professional. However, sometimes a purely business approach can change the way we interact with people – even though our clients value the same things in a business relationship as they do in a personal one.

To illustrate this, let me ask you a few questions about how you manage your client database:

1.  Do you send them information that’s valuable to them individually or are you falling into the trap of sending them generic information?

2.  Are you sending them too much information (just to ‘stay top of mind’) instead of focusing on the quality of your interactions?

3.  Have you simply assumed what information they would find useful or what type of service they need?

4.  How often do you really talk to them?

Some of the questions above might seem quite basic, but with all the automation available for database marketing, it’s often an area that can lose its personal touch and as a result your ability to secure the maximum amount of repeat and referral business.

And let’s be clear I’m not suggesting any more workload – this is all about being more effective. Here are some ideas to consider:

1.  Reassess everything you send to clients. If you wouldn’t read it or can’t see the value in it, seriously consider why you are sending it. Don’t send something just to stay in touch – there are better ways to do this as discussed below.

2.  Target the information you send. Most client database systems allow you to allocate clients into groups. Do this and send appropriate information to that group. Sending information to clients which isn’t applicable indicates that you haven’t taken the time to consider what you’re sending.

3.  Send a bulk email asking your clients what information they would find useful. Or better still ask them when you next speak to them. Let them know this is to ensure that you only send them information which they would find valuable.

4.  Pick up the phone. Personally I believe that we overuse emails and they’re not always an effective tool for communicating with clients. Take two minutes to pick up the phone and check in with your clients. They will appreciate you making the effort (even if you are only able to leave a message) and you will gain valuable feedback or new business by speaking to them individually.

5.  If you come across something which suits only one person send them a personalised email. They will be impressed that you remembered something which is important to them.

6.  Use generic information only when it’s useful and balance it with more personal interactions. You might also consider making your generic communications more interesting with competitions, special offers, non-business information, etc.

7.  Focus on quality not quantity. How often you contact your clients isn’t as important as the way you contact them. They will value one personalised contact every 6 months more than a dozen bulk emails over the same period.

We have a multitude of ways to interact with clients but remember that a business relationship is like any other other – you need to spend the time, show you care and demonstrate you have listened.