While running errands last year, I heard a squealing sound that warned me it was time to get my brake pads changed. When I tried to make an appointment, though, I was met with an unanswered phone. And when I finally got in touch with someone, they rudely told me it would be at least two weeks.
I had been with this mechanic for years, but I had noticed that his customer service and professionalism were slipping. While I didn’t expect a same-day appointment, two weeks was too long to put this off. So I found a new mechanic.
At the new shop, I got in the next day, and the owner chatted with me for 15 minutes so he could get to know me. At the end of the year, he sent a gift card to a local restaurant as a thank-you.
These extra efforts may not sound like much, but what is marketing if not a conversation? As a business owner myself, I was reminded of what a strong impression a simple chat or mailed letter can make. Not only did that mechanic win my loyalty, but I’ve recommended him to my friends, family and colleagues in the area.
This experience reminded me of just how vital it is to show your clients how much they mean to you. While not always flashy, these eight strategies can accomplish that:
1. Send them a handwritten letter.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to show clients your appreciation is by sending them a handwritten letter. You know, on an actual piece of paper.
Why is this so powerful? First off, going old school can make you stand out in this age of electronic communication. What’s more, as noted in Harvard Business Review, a handwritten message “can show deeper investment and appreciation than a simple thank-you can.” It also generates word of mouth and boosts engagement and retention.
Best of all? You can use handwritten notes in a variety of ways. You can thank clients for their business or send holiday or birthday cards. You might send a letter to offer them something new, or just to check in with them.
2. Launch a loyalty program.
You don’t have to create a Starbucks-like loyalty program with tons of freebies. Instead, you could implement a loyalty program that taps into your clients’ sense of social responsibility, like TOMS does. The points customers earn through its Passport Rewards program can be exchanged for donations to good causes.
REI provides another example. For just $20, customers can become lifetime co-op members. In return, they receive 10% back on eligible purchases and access to garage sales and members-only gear.
3. Remove the brown M&Ms.
Are you familiar with the rock ’n’ roll legend involving Van Halen and brown M&Ms? The story goes that the band had a rider in its touring contract stating that all brown M&Ms had to be removed from bowls in the backstage area.
The band members weren’t trying to be prima donnas here. It was a safety measure: If venue owners didn’t carefully follow the rider, then how could they be trusted to meet the band’s lighting and sound requirements? In short, the rider was a test to see whether venue owners were paying attention.
While you don’t literally have to remove the brown M&Ms from your candy dish, the point is to actually listen to your clients. Find out what their concerns are, ask them focused questions, take notes and always be curious about them.
4. Stop saying that you don’t have time.
Saying “I don’t have time” won’t lose you just the trust of your teammates, but also your clients. You don’t have to immediately stop what you’re doing to respond to their inquiries. But if it only takes a minute or two to get back to them, just do it instead of putting it off until later.
If an inquiry does require a lengthier response or a meeting, then schedule it as soon as you have the availability in your calendar. It may not seem like much, but it shows that their questions, concerns or feedback are worth your time.
5. Turn the tables on them.
Do your clients offer a product or service you can use? If so, become their customer. Remember, money always talks—especially if they find out you’re loyal to one of their competitors.
What if you don’t need their products or services? Then refer them to someone who does. In addition to referrals being one of the most effective marketing tools, they let your clients know they’re top of mind with you. More importantly, they show clients that you hold them and their business in high regard.
6. Celebrate their successes.
If your clients do something awesome or reach a milestone, congratulate them. You can’t go wrong by sending them a handwritten note or even a present. You could also give them a shoutout on your social channels or in your company newsletter.
But why wait until they’ve achieved an incredible feat? Consider starting a client spotlight. Each month, you can use your blog or social media accounts to tell the world how awesome a client is.
7. Host a VIP-exclusive event.
Who doesn’t feel like a rock star when being invited to an exclusive event? As an added perk, it demonstrates that you care enough about your clients that you genuinely want to spend time with them off the clock.
You could hold a socially distanced, after-hours soiree in your office or at a park, arrange a workshop or preview a product demo. Online ideas include Q&As, webinars or virtual happy hours. And it never hurts to offer them early access to a sale or exclusive discounts.
8. Connect with them during a crisis.
Don’t forget that your clients are people, and people will experience occasional setbacks. Right now, they’re most likely reeling from Covid-19, either because they face financial uncertainty or are struggling to take care of their health and well-being. Find ways to empathize with them during these turbulent times.
Consider giving them free access to a service you provide. Another option would be surprising them with a care package that includes gift cards, self-care items, healthy snacks or books you believe they’ll enjoy.
Above all, make yourself available. Even a 10-minute video call could mean the world to them during times of trouble.
Reminding your clients how much they mean to you may require a small time or financial investment. In the long run, though, it will be well worth it—and it’s the right thing to do. After all, without your clients, you wouldn’t be where you are today.
Reblogged this on PaperChain Blog.