3 ways to improve business relationships over the holidays that will last for years

A) In a relationship.

B) It’s complicated.

How would your customers describe their relationship status with your business using those familiar Facebook terms?

One of the cardinal principles or goals for businesses today, in both retail and B2B organizations, is to establish relationships between themselves and their customers (and employees, I might add). And, just as in our personal lives, the holidays are the ideal time to establish and deepen our relationships with the people whose lives we touch.

The problem is that our business lives can become so harried over the holidays that we may inadvertently lose the personal touch. Low prices aren’t the be-all-end-all. Because the holidays bring relationships into sharp focus, here are three ways to move from “It’s complicated” to “In a relationship” when describing the status between your business and your customers.

Storytelling. Do you blog or distribute an email newsletter? Take time off from your standard marketing approaches and simply share a personal story about why the holidays are important to you. Dig back into your childhood and talk about some meaningful events. The goal is to put a personal face on your business; it’s always there, but customers and clients don’t always “feel” it. Use some holiday storytelling to share your feelings about this special time of the year. People will relate to you.

Personalize your service. As I said above, Christmas shopping and the holiday season in general aren’t just about low prices. People are busy and stressed out. Find ways to “go the extra mile” and provide services that help reduce your customers’ stress. I remember an afternoon of shopping once where a store offered a couple of big bags that allowed me to consolidate what seemed like a dozen smaller bags from other stores that I was toting around. It was a simple gesture, but it made life easier for me and it showed me that the sales associate who was checking me out actually took note of my personal situation and comfort.

If you’re in a service industry, are there special services you can provide in December that make life better for your clients? A commercial cleaning service, for example, might consider that some clients will be throwing office parties. Could they provide a special pre-party cleaning service? Or how about contacting clients and asking if they have parties scheduled and would they like to reschedule their cleaning with that event in mind?

Don’t forget your team. If your team isn’t receiving any holiday cheer, they won’t have any to pass along to your customers or clients. How can you help them balance the special demands this season puts on both their personal and professional lives? Special snacks in the lunchroom, bringing in a masseuse, closing early, personalized gifts, and other creative ideas will communicate the care you have for your team.

December is always a special time of the year. Make it a special time in your business as well.