Stage 50: Recognizing Your Best Customers
As we near the end of this year’s Tour de Profit, it is appropriate to take time to recognize those who have helped you achieve your success. I know that the first group of people who come to mind are your team members – those who have worked hard in your business all year long delivering on the promise you made to your customers and clients.There is no doubt that these folks deserve your thanks and attention.
But, I want you to spend this week recognizing an even more important group of people – your customers! Think about it; you would not even have team members if you did not have customers! There would be no need for documents, processes, procedures or systems if you did not have good customers. Your customers are without a doubt the most important people in your business success.
So, here’s your question for this week: What are you doing to make sure your customers KNOW how important they are to you? How will you recognize their value to you and your business? How will they, beyond a shadow of a doubt, know that you value them, respect them, admire them and appreciate them?
Let me suggest a few things that will not communicate this message:
- Sending an e-card with a template note.
- Sending a new calendar or meeting planner that doubles as a marketing piece.
- Sending a card through regular mail with an embossed “thank you”.
- Sending a card with the names of everyone in your office on it, but without a personal note.
- Having a package delivered without a personal note.
The list can go on and on. Hopefully, you can see a pattern. But surprisingly, while you may see an obvious issue with this list of bad ideas, many business owners will still do just this and think they have communicated how much they appreciate their customers!
So, this begs the question, what will YOU do? Let’s start with this thought. Anything you do is worth doing with a personal touch! If you are going to send a note, make it a personal note. If you are going to send a card, make it a personal card. If you are sending a gift, make it something that relates to that particular client.
If asked, each of you could come up with four or five examples of ways that a business has tried to let you know they appreciate you, but your reaction to their effort was very different. I recall getting a fruit basket every Christmas holiday – without fail. When the box arrived, I knew who had sent it. Without exception, I would open the box only to find a standard packing list and an order form if I wanted to place a future order, but no note of any kind – other than the standard template “Thanks for your Business” on the small card that doubled as a marketing piece. Was I impressed? No. Did I like the fruit? Sure. Did it make me appreciate the sender more? Not really. Did it make me do more business with them? Nope.
Go ahead. Think about how many of these you have received over the years. More than just a handful I would bet. So why not be different? Why not stand out from the crowd? Do something that really matters – something that gets the kind of response you hope for.
Need ideas? Great! Here is your assignment. Talk with three or four of your colleagues – other business owners. Ask them what they are doing this year to recognize their best customers. Then, steal the best ideas! Yes, it is ok to steal ideas – it is called benchmarking. Business owners do it all the time. Now is a great time to do it. If no one has any good ideas, then collaborate with a colleague and have them ask a few of your customers what would make them feel special and you agree to ask a few of their customers for them. No need to get a consultant to do this for you. Just swap a few customer contacts and call on behalf of your colleague. Have them do the same and see what kind of response you get.
Here’s the best part. Even if you don’t come up with any new, creative ideas, you will get some good customer feedback that will be valuable to your business. And you get it for free!
But, just so you don’t go empty handed into this important time of year, here are a few ideas to consider:
- Recognize your best customers on your website with a story of what makes them special.
- If your business is B-2-B, include links to your customers’ websites in your newsletter with a personal note of thanks and a referral.
- Invite your best customers to a happy hour or dinner where they can meet others who have similar interests.
- Give out customer awards – even if you have to make them up!
- Send them something unique and specialized – even with their name on it.
- Send them tickets to a special holiday event for their family with your personal note attached.
If you’re thinking, these are good ideas, but each of them will cost a lot of money, then you need to re-set your thinking. Take a minute to remind yourself of the lifetime value of a good customer in your business. If a good customer stays with you two or three years and they do multiple transactions with you, the cost of a special gift or personal invitation is comparatively small.
Take this week to recognize your best customers. Over the long term, it is one of the best ways to retain your customers, get more referrals and grow your business. Good luck!