‘Tis the season of giving — giving “thanks” that is, at least in the U.S.
Yes, it’s Thanksgiving week, where my American compatriots are prepping to stuff turkeys, stuff themselves, and welcome family and friends into their homes.
And while we’re at it, why not take the opportunity to talk about another kind of ‘thanks giving’ in this week’s CR — the thanks you should be giving your customers for, well, being your customers.
Why thank customers?
The short answer, of course, is “why not?” Unless you were raised by wolverines, it’s a common courtesy you’re proud to offer… am I right?
The longer answer is that it’s practically money in the bank for future business, because customers that feel warm and fuzzy come back tenfold for more (give or take a fold or three).
So, in the spirit of the season, let me give you at 14 ways to make your customers feel appreciated.
We’ll start with these seven…
1) SEND A NOTE – I once dated a girl who sent thank you cards almost as automatically as breathing. I swear to you, the girl would pen notes of gratitude in the car, as we pulled out of driveways from dinner parties. “Because that’s what you’re supposed to do,” she would explain.
Why not do the same for your customers? Not in the perfunctory, here’s an auto-reply “thanks for your order” email (which you should also probably do) but an actual note that gets mailed as a stand alone message. “I just wanted to thank you personally,” says the owner of the business in the card, “for giving our [specific product name] a try. Welcome on board and please enjoy.”
2) MAKE IT A B-DAY CARD – There’s a story I’ve heard floating around, about the world’s best car salesman. Seems he took the time to note the birthdays of all his past customers. And every year, he would send a birthday card.
No cloaked sales messages, no ‘special inventory’ hype… just the birthday greeting. And he personally signed each card.
Result? He had a referral business like you wouldn’t believe. Not to mention customers that came back to him over and over again when it was time to buy a newer model.
These days, I get lots of automated B-Day wishes from online sources. And admittedly, it loses it’s specialness when it’s a computer sending it automatically. But even then, I admit, it feels at least a little flattering to be remembered.
3) GIVE A JUMPSTART – When your customer comes on board, what’s the first thing he gets? If it’s the product, that might be fine. But consider, you’ll have an even happier customer if he knows how to use what you’ve just sold him.
What more considerate way to make sure he can do that than by ‘thanking’ him with a simple well-guided tour around what he just purchased?
Maybe it’s a ‘user’s manual’ or maybe it’s an online video that walks through the steps. Maybe it’s just a brainstormed presentation on ways to use the product he might not be aware of.
Bottom line is, this kind of thorough start-up advice not only helps but back on early cancellations, but it also gives prospects that warm and welcoming feeling you’re hoping for.
4) GO “GINSU” AND GIVE MORE – I’m sure you know the “but wait there’s more” line from the “Ginsu Knife” commercials. To thank you for buying the knives, the sellers kept throwing in gifts.
If you weren’t spurred to action early, the extra bonuses would help seal the deal. Or so was the intent.
But imagine how grateful the buyer was every time he used one of those extra gadgets (I’m assuming they worked). “And,” he reminds himself, “I got this thing for free!”
5) SURPRISE ‘EM – What’s better than the gift that comes with your order? How about the gift you weren’t expecting.
If you bank on repeat business, thank a customer with a little extra, unannounced somethin’-somethin’ that shows up not too long after the actual product gets delivered or starts arriving (if, say, it’s a subscription product).
By the way, gifts to subscribers don’t HAVE to be high end. In the days of easy info delivery, a helpful e-book or the like can be a great way to deliver value on their end while keeping costs low on yours.
Along these same lines…
6) DELIVER 11th HOUR “TWIST” ON THE DEAL – Try making a customer feel appreciated by coming in, after the deal is almost done, with a last-minute deal, as in “Just to thank you for considering this offer, let’s do this…”
And then you can follow with a special break on the price you just used to close the sale, put a buy- one-get-one-free deal on the reply card, or throw in a donation to a popular charity.
All will seem like more sweetener for the offer, but these too will increase the warm and fuzzy factor, helping your prospects to feel appreciated.
And here’s one more…
7) HONOR LOYALTY – Ever since credit cards, airlines, and donut shops started rewarding repeat customers with visit stamps and reward points, the customer loyalty program has become ubiquitous. And this is a good thing.
But there are lots of other ways you can also thank customers for coming back. For instance, my main client once invited long-time customers to a gala party. Out of this came special “reserve” and “alliance” clubs, with other perks for long-time members only.
If you can, put your long time customers on a special list and send them occasional notes. Create special services, either free or a good but paid deal, that come with special “club level” designations and VIP treatment. Give them a special hotline number for customer service, no waiting.
The point is, they’re family. Make them feel it.
I’ve got more of these ideas, which I’ll share with you in the next issue.
Meanwhile, let’s close with this: If you set out to try any of these, do it with the right mindset. And that mindset is, of course, gratitude.
Nothing sells better than sincerity. A “thanks” that’s delivered with only manipulation in mind is no “thanks” at all.
Okay, more coming in a week.
Until then, best wishes to you and yours for Thanksgiving if you celebrate it… and hey, the same wishes even if you don’t.