We live in a world of disconnection, one where everybody seeks meaningful human interaction in whatever form might be available. From social media sites to blogs and everything in between, it seems that real human connection is becoming sparser. Despite an observed tendency people have to isolate themselves from large groups due to relying too much on technology, people actually crave human interaction more than ever before.
This is a crucial lesson in marketing and business, as making the personal connection with a customer is the best way to keep them coming back. Business today tends to be impersonal, overly interested in protocol and profits than with the feelings of the consumer. Perhaps technology is to blame; name brand awareness and convenience at the expense of the old mom and pop shop that worked hard to maintain personal relationships.
Rather than follow the formula of big corporate policy, which does you no favors as a small to medium sized business, the best option is to invest in personal relationships and sometimes something as small as saying “thank you” to a customer works wonders in bringing them back to you.
Renowned customer retention expert Shep Hyken stressed the importance of customer appreciation by saying, “Appreciation gifts are… appreciated. I call this the after experience. The follow up should be unexpected, memorable and appreciated. A thank you is always appreciated. A personalized gift is sometimes appropriate. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but put some thought into it.”
The old school tendency of brushing away customers after they buy a product, as if to avoid buyer’s remorse or any chance of giving a refund, is passé. Now more than ever, customer retention is an important business strategy—investing in people who have already purchased your product in an effort to turn them into raving fans.
Most customers are simply not expecting to hear back from a business after the initial purchase. By making this step an important part of your process, you can make a huge difference to your bottom line and your loyal client base. Taking the time and expense in making sure your clients are happy with their product is a major step in creating both brand awareness (remembering your name, seeing it on a regular basis) and brand trust (a company that actually cares about the customer’s opinion).
Customers tend to be more loyal when you take the initiative to give them a thank you, whether it’s a free gift, free tools, free information, or even a hand written card.
A recent Gallup poll recently reported on some interesting patterns in customer behavior after the implementation of thank you and gift programs to returning clients.
• Customers care more about quality and attitude than speed
• Thank you programs do not cost very much and yet can lead to literally 300% increases. “Build everything you do around the strategic directive of retention. If you keep more customers your profits grow,” agreed Lou Altman of GlobaFone.
• Customers are willing to pay more for personalization
• If you remember their name, they are more likely to remember yours
“We have a supplier, who for the last 2 years, has sent fabulous ‘cards’. I’ve still got the first one on my desk and can’t bring myself to throw it away! I look forward to seeing what they come up with year after year, which means we have to keep doing business with them!” said Jo Clarkson, UK Operations Director at The Alternative Board.
A little originality and a lot of caring goes a long way in creating a thriving business that has repeat customers. The benefits are hard to dismiss: returning customers, greater brand awareness and trust, referrals to friends, and social media praise lead to a company that customers actually feel invested in, and want to see succeed. In other words, you turn customers into a fan base, a tribe, a following.
Loyal fans versus one time customers often start choosing your brand over competitors because of a sense of created “customer loyalty”. Price point isn’t everything, and if you show them that you have the personal touch other companies’ lack, this creates loyalty, plain and simple.
Anne Janzer, author of the book “Subscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn” agrees that gifts can be a beneficial retention strategy but to make sure they’re not an upsell in disguise. She said, “Expressing gratitude to customers is always a good idea, but be careful about monetary gifts. Don’t overlook the impact of a hand-written, personal expression of thanks. Disguising an upsell or cross-sell offer as a gift doesn’t count.”
Your options for recognizing and appreciating your customers are endless; from the typical thank you card, to gift baskets to fresh baked cookies (who doesn’t love those!), you’ll immediately set your business apart from the pack by adding a personal touch to your sales process.
Gimme Jimmy’s Cookies, a corporate gift company that specializes in fresh baked cookies and unique treats spells it out perfectly in their mission statement which says, “looking after your staff and customers is a part of running a business and every little bit you do works wonders for staff morale and customer satisfaction.”