For anyone who has a business, one of the most valued parts of that business is our customer base. We spend a sizable amount of time, effort, and expense in acquiring our customers. It is much easier, requires less time, and costs less money for us to retain those customers rather than go looking for new ones. (I am not saying that Appreciation Marketing cannot help obtain new customers, but that is a topic for another blog.)
How do we keep customers happy; how do we get them to appreciate us as businesses as much as we should appreciate them as customers? We do this by showing them that we appreciate them for being customers. Does that mean giving away our product or service? No, it also does not mean under-pricing whatever we sell, nor does it mean that we have to “give” them anything that we don’t “give” to everyone. It means treating them in a professional, personable, and polite manner.
Everyone likes to be noticed; don’t you like it? As a child, we liked a pat on the head or shoulder; we liked to be recognized for whatever we did. Maybe we did things to get that recognition that were not always good. Our customers are no different. Customers who believe that we care about them keep doing business with us, and they refer business to us.
First, when you sign a new customer, thank them for doing business with you, welcome them into your customer base, and tell them that you want their feedback on your product or service. You can do this in person, by email, by telephone, or you can send them a card with the message in your own words. Do not, and I repeat, do not ask them to buy anything else, or upgrade, at the same time. Thank them, and don’t ask for anything in return, but their possible feedback.
Second, thank them periodically for continuing to be your customer; do not let them think that the fact that they continue to do business with you means never being recognized or thanked again. Remember, do not include any offers for additional products or services. What if your product or service is truly a one time buy; it never wears out, or it never needs to be purchased again? Do you really want the customer think that you still don’t care about them? This brings us to the third step.
Happy customers will refer business to you. You want, and need, referrals. This is unpaid advertising. Thank everyone who refers anyone else to you, even if you do not close the deal. The next referral from that customer might be the biggest deal you ever write. Always ask a new customer how they knew of you or who, if anyone, referred them. This will show that you care about your customers, including when they refer someone to you.
In addition, capture your customers’ date of birth and anniversary, along with their spouses’ date of birth. Never ask for the year, just the month and day. Then send them a birthday card and an anniversary card. Make sure that you include both spouses in the anniversary card, and never send both spouses the same birthday card or message in the same year. Also, make note of other holidays, Christmas, New Years, Independence Day. Even Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Presidents Day can provide an opportunity for you to brighten a customer’s day. Another opportunity to touch someone – send a veteran a card on Veteran’s Day to show appreciation for their service, no matter when they served, the branch, or the position.
Finally, when you lose a customer (and we all do), send them your thank you for their business, and tell them how sorry you are that you will not have the pleasure of serving them in the future. If you do not know why they have left you, ask them if there was something that you did, or if there was something that you did not do that you should have. (It does not mean that you will change anything. You should always know why you lose a customer, even if you did nothing wrong or there was nothing else you could do to please them.)
Customer Appreciation Marketing – it is a fairly easy and inexpensive way to retain your customer base. It sure is a lot easier than listening to the door slam as they leave you. It also can lead to more customers through the referrals your customers will send to you.
If you have questions or comments, please email or call me, so we can discuss them. Want to meet for a chat? We can do that. Want to discuss your business and how you practice appreciation marketing? We can do that. Thank you for your interest and input.