John F. Kennedy once said that when we express gratitude, “we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” For small business owners this is particularly important when it comes to thanking customers for their business. Without their support, few enterprises would last very long.
Simply saying “thank you” goes a long way toward securing a customer’s loyalty. But there are other things you can do to express your gratitude to show that you truly mean it. Small business expert Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media, offers some suggestions:
Send a thank-you note. Lesonsky admits that the idea may sound corny. But in this age of e-centric communication, a handwritten thank-you note really makes a big impression. “Set aside 15 minutes a day to write notes telling customers why you appreciate them,” Lesonsky suggests, “and how much you enjoy working together.”
Hold an event for your best customers. Possibilities include a luncheon hosted by your business, a late-night shopping event after your store closes to the public, or a free seminar where you show them how to do something helpful. The point is to make them feel valued and special.
Make them an offer. Send a thank-you in the form of a coupon, discount, free gift, or other special offer. “Make it meaningful…no skimpy 5 percent off,” Lesonsky says. “Make it clear that there are no strings attached. It’s simply to thank them for their business.”
Pick up the phone. If your business relies on one-on-one sales, give your customers a “thank-you” call. “Tell them you’re calling to thank them for their business, see how your product or service is working out, and ask if there are any problems or concerns you can help with,” Lesonsky says. There’s an added benefit to this approach…an opportunity for customers to let you know their needs. “Then you can step in and suggest how you could address them,” she adds.
Say it wherever you can. Think about all the touch points where your business interacts with customers. Even if a customer doesn’t buy something, thank them for coming in. Also consider the content of your email signature and voicemail, or the message customers receive when completing an online purchase. “All the ways you interact with customers should leave an impression of gratitude,” Lesonsky says. “Last impressions matter just as much as first ones do.”
To learn other ways to improve the quality of your customer service, contact Raleigh SCORE. We provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners. To schedule a free appointment with our experienced counselors, go to http://raleigh.score.org, or call us at 919-856-4739.