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Good Santa, Bad Santa...

December 20, 2011

How Will Your Business Be Remembered For the Holidays?

You may have provided many things to your clients and customers in 2011, but did you remember to provide "Peace of Mind"?

By now as you can guess, there is little time left to change a customer perception of your business before the holidays. While we can't take our eye off the ball in terms of being responsive and attentive to customers with last-minute needs, by now the vast majority of your customers, clients and prospects are going to end the year with a fixed perception of how they think about you and your business.

But the end of the year and the holidays are a great time to reflect, and if things are slowing down and you want to get mentally prepared for 2012, it makes sense to set aside some time to reflect. Are you going to be perceived as the "Good Santa" or the "Bad Santa" on Christmas morning?

Ask yourself some questions if any of your customers or clients are thinking of you like this:

  • The work was done from the perspective of hours and sweat equity, but the problem was not solved for the client and now they carry the same stress of thinking about that challenge into 2012.
  • The product delivery was late, and your customer is watching their kids open presents on Christmas morning knowing one of them will be getting something a few days later - scattering some of that Christmas morning "magic"
  • Your product looked SO much better in the photo than in real life - essentially ensuring that you did not meet the expectations you set
  • A customer really needed something at the last minute but when they called they found out you closed early, or would not stay open the extra ten minutes it would take them to get there.
  • For all the talk you do about being sensitive to the client and being an astute listener, they somehow can't lose the feeling that you do all the talking and don't really understand them....

"Bad Santa"? Hopefully this is not you or your business. If so, you will be the one creating a burden over the holidays and the one they will be thinking of for all the wrong reasons when they should be relaxing and getting fully engaged in the holiday "magic" of being at home with their families, friends and relatives. It's an awful place to be in to start 2012, no?

Or maybe they think of you like this:

  • You really went above and beyond to go the extra mile when things got rough, and you worked around some obstacles with grace and a firm hand to keep the project on track and get everyone home in time for the holidays. Maybe even the problem was not fully solved, but everyone left knowing they were on track to nail it down as soon as they get back from a well-deserved break.

  • You set expectations high, and demonstrated to the customer you would create NO risk to them by purchasing from you. AND you delivered as promised. The service or product was every bit as great as advertised - and maybe a bit more!

  • You demonstrated a keen awareness of your customer's need to deal with unexpected last-minute issues, and staff accordingly, making sure you or someone else is available to linger 30-60 minutes beyond closing time "just in case".

  • Your clients are amazed how they can't recall what you actually say in your meetings/workshops - all they know is that they come away feeling smarter, bolder and in more control of their business or project because of the value you bring via your experience and expertise.

You will be remembered as the "Good Santa". You will be remembered less for what you did, or the product you created and more for being the person or business that gave the gift of "Peace of Mind" over the holidays. And by virtue of that perception, will more than likely continue getting wish lists from your customer, clients, fans and prospects in 2012.

If you suspect you might be in someone's "naughty" list as a "Bad Santa", it's not too late to give them a call and tell them what you will do to atone for it in 2012. A customer is still human after all (something our ROI dashboard's often neglect to communicate), and showing an understanding of your shortcomings is a great indicator of "Customer-First" culture!  But more importantly, take some of your time off during the holidays to think out loud about how you can evolve into "Good Santa" in 2012.

And most importantly, stay "Customer-First" over the holidays - by which I mean give your loved ones the full attention of your time without hesitation - it is their turn to be your "customer" and make it a memorable holiday for all!

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Next Week: We'll look at how to start the New Year the right way - by talking about how being authentic is not only the best way to attract and keep the right customers, but how it just makes your job easier. It's all about "Being Yourself".