A few months ago I received a birthday card in the mail from my dentist whom I’ve seen for more than 10 years. In all those years it was the first time he ever sent me a card, and I was pleasantly surprised. I opened the envelope and read the message inside — “Happy birthday, Mr. Vetter!”
In the decade I’ve gone in for my semi-annual cleaning, my dentist never once called me anything but “Carlos.” It was clear this card was a mass production, one of many that went out to every patient marked “Mr. or “Mrs.” I don’t want to sound ungrateful. The card was a fine gesture, but the simple formality of the last name lost any attempt at real personalization.
Engaging and personalizing your customer base retains business and creates new opportunities as word-of-mouth advertising. When reaching out to yours, go the distance and don’t cut corners.
Pick Up the Phone
When was the last time a company with your products and services called just to say thank you? Imagine how unexpectedly taken customers will be when taking a call that doesn’t involve sales or upgrading to a more expensive service. It doesn’t matter if your customer base is 50 or 50,000. Calling a few each day takes up very little time and helps build a loyal relationship with anyone on the other side of the line.
Mail a Real Card
A birthday card will make a customer or client smile, but use the customer’s first name (get to know any nicknames if possible), and actually sign it in ink. Whether you’re a small business or major corporation, maintain an updated database of contacts. If keeping track of birthdays year-round is a burden, send family Christmas cards once a year. Personally address the holiday cards and put a company photo picturing your staff on the front for an added touch of personalization.
Send a Follow-Up & Promotional E-mail
After a customer’s first purchase, send a follow-up email that shares gratitude and invites the customer to return for a special promotion. Replicate a similar follow-up such as this:
I wanted to offer my thanks for choosing our company and tell you from all of us here that we appreciate your business. We’re confident you’ll love your [product] and want to give you a special offer should you decide to shop with us again. Use the promotional code below to receive 10 percent off your next purchase. It’s just our way of saying thanks.
Develop your own generic template and thank a new customer with an instant discount to express that you value their continued business.
Engage Using Social Media
Using social networks like Twitter connects with customers, provides personal and real-time customer service and promotes your brand. Disgruntled customers often turn to social media to vent frustrations when their expectations with companies aren’t met, and since the keywords in these tweets and posts are searchable, it’s an opportunity to repair a relationship.
For example, if a customer Tweets “I’m fed up with Netflix! It won’t connect to my Xbox,” Netflix has a team of customer service representatives who search for those grievances and respond to them online. These customers probably don’t expect a response when they vent online, so the service is an above-and-beyond measure to retain a customer who was close to cutting the cord.