I’m sitting here in the Hamilton Airport waiting for my plane to board. I’m heading to Edmonton to pick up my daughter from her grandparent’s house. She has been away for several weeks and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing her. Although I’m often asked why I send her there every summer, don’t I miss her? The answer is definitely yes, but the good outweighs the bad. Were she to be here all summer, she would be bored silly or would be enrolled in back to back summer camps to keep her occupied. One of the great things I remember about summer vacation when I was a kid, was no structure. I could get up when I wanted, go to bed when I wanted and pretty much do what I felt like doing that day. In today’s society with the two parent working household that is not achievable for most kids. So one of the reasons my daughter treks off to Edmonton for the better part of the summer is so that she can be a kid who has a summer vacation.
The second reason, which is so much more important, is the relationship she is building with her grandparents. Growing up, my grandparents lived in India and I would see them every 4 years or so. Distance prevented me from forming that very special relationship between grandparent and grandchild, that I was determined to not have my daughter miss the same thing. Although we are connected by all of the technology, phone, email, Skype, there is nothing like sitting down face to face and having a conversation. The nuances of body language and facial expressions aren’t misinterpreted (or at least with a lot less misperception).
So what does all this mean to you as a business owner? (I’m aware enough that you don’t read my blog just to hear about my daughter’s summer vacation ) The message really is relationships. Relationships with your customers. Do you reach out and meet with your key customers on a regular schedule? Although you may communicate with them all of the time throughout the course of the year about current activities, do you ever sit down with them over a cup of coffee or lunch and ask them “How are we doing? What can we do better? Is there more that we can do to help you?” You will be amazed at the feedback you will get and the appreciation of your customers that it matters to you. Be prepared for occasions where you get some negative feedback, or they express their displeasure. No relationship ever runs smoothly all of the time – whether business or personal. But look at this feedback as an opportunity to change and improve your systems and your product or service. The difference is that you are now hearing about it. In most customer relationships you don’t hear about it until it’s gone past the point of no return. Don’t miss this opportunity to resolve their issues and then reach back out to them to confirm that the problem is fixed. The goodwill which you will build up with your clients cannot be measured.
When my daughter is older and she looks back at all of those summers with her grandparents, I hope that she will fondly reflect back on the precious memories she’s been able to create. These meetings with your clients should also cause your clients to reflect back on your relationship and realize that you do care about them and listened to what they had to say.
Are you currently conducting “Client Relationship” Meetings? If so, I’d love to hear things you do, and any negatives or positives you’ve achieved with these meetings.