There’s something alluring about exclusivity; having something no one else does. It makes you feel special, like when you catch the eye of someone across the room and everyone else just disappears. It’s very Tony and Maria in "West Side Story" without the snapping or knife fights.
What if you made each of your customers feel that way? Is that how to improve customer service? Just by being thoughtful about your communications with them? Because a client-provider relationship is just that—a relationship that needs nurturing, even after the commitment has already been made. Channel the feelings you have for your special someone and craft a message (or action) that makes your clients feel like they’re the only one on your radar.
Don’t forget your anniversary
Use your CRM system to keep track of your customers’ birthdays (or the date of their first purchase) and set up either a marketing campaign or a reminder to do something special on their big day. A budget friendly, relationship building option is sending that handwritten note that’s crossed your mind several times but you’ve yet to get around to. But recognition of a birthday or anniversary is always appreciated, no matter the form it takes, so even sending out an automated but personalized email wishing them happy birthday and offering a special gift or discount is enough to make them feel appreciated.
Give her a memorable experience
Deliver on the service you promise, then go beyond expectation to make your business memorable. Focus on your customer’s desire rather than his or her request. And be open to suggestions—just like in a personal relationship, remaining open to improvement and accepting communication can help you grow and improve.
Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Zingerman’s Deli, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based deli with a fiercely loyal following, wrote a book on customer service, "The Zingerman’s Way." In the book, he highlights that customers who receive a great product but lesser service will be far less loyal than those who receive great service with a disappointing product, as well as how great customer service translates across industries and business sizes. He probably knows what he’s talking about: he insists on remaining a small business, bypassing the opportunity to open more locations, but still earns over $50 million each year.
The lesson here? Investing time and money into creating and maintaining superb customer service will make you money in the long run.
While customers appreciate the thought that goes into a handwritten note, don’t send one at the holidays when everyone else is finally thinking of it. Send a personalized message sometime in May or October, when it isn’t expected, and it will carry more positive weight. If handwritten notes aren’t your thing, consider sending a promotion to your customers just out of the blue. Again, you can set this up as an automated campaign that keeps wowing your customers while you're working on finding more to get in the door.
Keep her coming back for more
It doesn’t take much to set up a loyalty program for customers, but the rewards for both business and customers are tangible. Seventy-five percent of customers have at least one loyalty card and by creating a points system, implementing punch cards or simply a way to track purchases will yield return business, easy customer information collection, showcase buying habits and provide low-cost advertising.
The Moosejaw rewards program does a great job of laying out the benefit to the customer while keeping the tone light and engaging. If you become a loyal customer—read: one who receives their emails—you receive a 10 percent discount on your first purchase, you can create a profile (customer information), keep track of the points you earn with each purchase (repeat business), and check out your order history (buying habits).
Don’t ignore the silence
Silence from a customer isn’t always ominous, but it’s worth it to make a concerted effort to check in periodically, to see how they’re doing and to keep the lines of communication open. Call them, email them or, if you’re in the area, drop by unexpectedly. The care you demonstrate to your customers through these actions will help create trust and an open dialogue for feedback—small business owner’s gold.
Keep the spark alive
Once a customer makes a purchase, it doesn’t mean you should shift your attention right back to getting more customers. Let your newest customer know you’re happy to have their business, but for those who have been with your business for a while, reward them with occasional perks like exclusive discounts or a small gift as a token of appreciation. After all, the loyalists are the ones who impact your recurring revenue and will refer the most business.
Mac’s Broiler & Tap, located in Tempe, Arizona, delighted its long time customers with a simple, yet significant act. After years of frequent visits and befriending staff members, Carey Ballard, our director of content marketing, and her family moved to a different part of town, which brought with it a variety of closer, more convenient culinary options.
Over a year passed before Carey returned for a birthday lunch with her daughter, and when they arrived, they were happily greeted by a familiar waitress who promptly wished Ballard’s daughter a happy birthday. It turns out that server wrote down Carey’s daughter’s birthdate the year before so she could wish her a happy birthday again when it rolled around. Talk about a great surprise!
These are just a few ways on how you can improve customer service, and it can be fun and worthwhile to create your own. When you're able to make your customers feel special, you connect more deeply. Consider the honesty, loyalty and trust you have with one of your closest friends or family members. You wouldn’t trade it for the world, right? Just put a little extra thought—and love—into your next email and make your customer feel like every day is a special day when they’re on your mailing list.