Customer appreciation is sort of important (/understatement). And, like with any other moment or relationship in our lives, sentiments of appreciation carry significantly more meaning when they are not tied to a gift-giving occasion such as birthdays, holidays or anniversaries. In the business world, this equates to “receive a gift with purchase” and “buy 1 get 1 free”. Both are nice and wonderful things, but let’s not forget those uber meaningful gestures that hold more weight because they are given “just because“. Think of the last time you gave (or received) your girlfriend flowers for no reason whatsoever. In that spirit, here are five actions you can take TODAY to thank your customers, completely unprovoked and with no salesy agenda.
1) Mail a card. We recently sent out a batch of Thank You cards to several clients for no real reason. They weren’t tied to any holiday or end-of-project timeline. Just a short, hand-written note saying “we’re enjoying our partnership!”. Extremely positive response so far.
2) I just called…to say…I love you! I received a call yesterday from the Account Director for one of my clients at one of the major sports properties. I expected to get hit up for something (why aren’t you activating at XYZ event, what’s your planning timeline for 2011, spend more money with us!) and already had my defenses up before she even began speaking. But then something wonderful occurred – as she began the small talk, she never progressed into “business” speak. I kept waiting and waiting, but eventually, I realized this was simply a “hey, how’s it going in your life” call. Hell, we spent most of the time talking about projects and events that we’re both working on that had nothing to do with our shared client. Obviously the call was meant to keep a business relationship going, but it was still nice to just chat. Pick up the phone today, give one or two of your clients a call and simply ask how things in general are going. Then hang up and leave the sales pitch for another time.
3) Throw a party. I’m not one to believe you need an actual reason to host a party, but a customer appreciation gathering is rarely a bad idea. I recently convinced a close friend who owns a fitness center / gym to throw a random Tuesday night Client Appreciation Night inside the gym. We worked with a local “healthy eating” restaurant and a fruit smoothie shop to provide food and drinks for the occasion and invited his most loyal gym members. There was no forced talk of extending memberships or purchasing products. It was just a fun outing where people mingled, relaxed and smiled. Naturally, several multi-year memberships were sold that evening, but sales were not the goal of the event.
4) Send a link. It’s an old move, but a good one. I find myself randomly passing along useful articles and bits of news to my industry friends and current clients quite often, all as customized as possible to their personal interests, goals and challenges. Every now and then an article happens to hit home with the recipient and I usually receive a grateful response and, some times, a story about how the information helped them to make a decision.
5) Give a local biz gift certificate. I’m always wary of the perception that you may be trying to buy a customer’s loyalty with a tactic like this, but at the end of the day, intentions overcome all that. And the intention here is to provide an experience for your customer, not to impress them with lavish dinners and diamond necklaces. If your customer has a 4 year-old son, send them a gift certificate for a free Learning Day at the local zoo, for example. The meaning behind the offer severely outweighs the monetary cost. And, if you’re really good, you might want to do some bartering so those gift cards become even less of an expense.
Happy weekend, peeps!