Mark Stevens at Entrepreneur magazine says instead of saying ‘thank you,’ show customers some real appreciation by giving them your time.

You may be confusing the idea of celebrating your customers with fawning over them. But I have something else in mind.

Something like actually paying attention to them: caring, thinking, dreaming and wondering enough about what they say and what they are asking, to challenge them.

To developing a solution to their needs based on what your analysis tells you is even more valuable to them, instead of just giving them not what they ask for; even if it flies in the face of what they started off thinking they wanted.

Engage in something far more powerful than a vendor relationship by transitioning to a collaborator. The fact is, the process of collaboration not only leads to an unusually close affiliation but opens doors of opportunity that are richer and more sustainable than those driven expressly by the desire to make a sale.

Photo by mishel_sun.