Everyone likes to be appreciated and that includes your customers! And it can be challenging finding unique ways to show your customers that you appreciate them without being predictable. I came across a custom of appreciation that comes in May and has historically been a festive celebration of spring. The May Day custom once observed in areas of the early colonial United States where baskets were made involved small baskets filled with flowers or treats. The baskets were left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away.
In your business, when was the last time you surprised a customer with a small token of appreciation? Unlike in the above May Day custom, you don’t have to run away. And you don’t have to provide a costly token to make it a nice surprise. Showing customer appreciation or gratitude for the business can go a long way in recognizing that the customer has made the choice to buy from you.
Your marketing plans should list your target market and that should include your existing customer base. Is showing gratitude and appreciation part of your marketing plan? It is easier to keep your existing customers coming back than it is to bring in new customers. So a good portion of your advertising should go toward them. This is because you have already stared to build the relationship. You have already achieved a series of small wins when the customer noticed your advertisement, came into your store, asked about an item, and purchased that item. These were all small wins because your advertising was a success, your store appearance was a success, and you provided good customer service that was successful so that the customer bought from you.
By giving a little customer appreciation, you can keep your company name in front of your customer as a reminder of your relationship. It is a Win-Win situation for both of you. You get to remind the customer about your company and they get an appreciation. And it should be part of your sales and marketing strategy.
There is one company that sends me a birthday card every year with a small gift card as an appreciation of “thanks”. I enjoy being remembered by this small token and of course love the gift card. In turn, they get me back to their store where I usually spend more than the small gift card. We both win!
Do you have some way to keep in touch with the customer? Are you doing anything to get your customer information? Can you provide management training and employee training that includes how to gather customer information before, during and after the sales? This can be challenging with more and more people concerned about privacy. But if you develop trust by keeping customer information secure and private and be honest about what you will use their information for, you might be able to collect data directly from your customers to use in sending updates on sales and special events, distributing newsletters, besides mailing appreciation cards. There are also ways to stay in touch through social media, such as having a Facebook Fan Page or Twitter account for customers to follow. If you advertise in newsletters or magazines, you can run special advertising promotions or coupons with a special gimme.
Now that you have ways to stay in front of your customers, how are you using this information to stay in touch? Do you have a advertising strategy that involves customer service and follow-up on the sales? Can you call to verify he is still satisfied with a service? Can you send a thank you card in the mail? Have you told him about your Facebook page where there are special events and coupons posted? I have seen store personnel put a business card in the bag with each purchase. Other stores give away pens, key chains, or other promotional items. In some cases, stores give promotional items with a minimum purchase. Do you use promotional items to keep your company name in front of your customers? And how about holding a Customer Appreciate Event at your business location?
Once your customer knows about your business and is familiar with your product or service, you still have to work on building more wins to get more business. Has he recognized the benefit of the sale? Has he returned to your store to make another purchase?
Does your customer know all of the products you sell or services you provide? Selling to that customer was an achievement. What else do you need to do to get more business? Do you have a product catalog, brochure or other marketing materials about your services?
I was recently in a store where the cashier was asking everyone if they knew about the new additions being made. This was a great way for customers to know that there would be new products and what those new products would consist of in the future. And the cashier was automatically insinuating that she wanted you to return. Smiling with a positive attitude and giving helpful information is a great way to show appreciation while inviting a customer to return.
Although the customer may have bought a product or used one of your services, what more can you do to follow-up with the sale? Can you send out a survey or include a survey with the order? A nice token of appreciation for completing a survey can help encourage a customer to fill it out. Many companies have included online links for customers to provide feedback. This helps the company collect some basic information about the customer. In choosing an innovative way to keep in contact with your customer, consider what is in it for the customer to make it a Win-Win situation. What can you do to make it as easy as possible for the customer to respond positively while also showing appreciation and building a better business relationship?