by Biana Babinsky, Avocado Consulting, Inc.
Would you like to transform your one-time customers into repeat clients? What if your customers recommended your business to their friends and colleagues? Do your customers know how much you appreciate their business? What if you could do all this without spending a fortune?
Thanking your customers for their business goes a long way towards establishing goodwill and rapport with them. Showing appreciation is particularly important for service businesses, as your customers don’t receive a tangible item that reminds them of your business the next time they are looking for a similar product. Thus, service businesses must focus on quality of execution and customer service to achieve brand differentiation.
Here are three suggestions you can use to let your customers know you appreciate their business. These techniques can be implemented either free or with a minimal investment, so use all of them!
- Send your customers a “thank you” e-mail. As soon as the first part of a transaction is complete (an order is submitted, a contract is signed, etc), send an email to thank the customer and to confirm that you have started the fulfillment process.
Don’t stop here — e-mail the customer when the status of the transaction changes. If the order involves tangible goods, send e-mail when you ship the product. Remember to include a tracking number if the carrier provides one. If your business provides a service, keep the customer updated on your progress towards reaching the agreed-upon goal. The completion of a milestone or a service module is an excellent time for a status update. Use these communication opportunities to thank your customers.
It is especially important to communicate with your customers if you experience a problem during fulfillment. Let your customers know if an item is out of stock and must be back-ordered or if there are unanticipated difficulties in executing a service. You can try to pretend that nothing is wrong and hope that nobody notices, but this regrettably common strategy will backfire and eliminate repeat business. More often than not, customers will appreciate knowing the exact status of their order and will not hold a short delay against you. Your cost: free.
- Show your appreciation by providing good customer service. Thanking the customers doesn’t stop once the transaction is complete and an order is received. Customers might contact you again in the future with questions or concerns about the products or services you provided. This is really your opportunity to shine — the quality of post-sale customer service is going to make a crucial difference between a customer coming back to you or choosing your competitor in the future. Provide exceptional customer service now to get repeat business later. Your cost: free.
- Send out Thanksgiving Cards. Thank your customers by sending Thanksgiving cards. This is a highly unorthodox approach, but it is very effective. While many businesses take the time to send out holiday cards, very few send out Thanksgiving cards. By sending out Thanksgiving cards you will differentiate your business from your competitors and use this as an additional opportunity to thank your customers. You can be almost certain that your card will be the only one to arrive in November (or this was the case before you read this article). Not only does this enable them to avoid getting lumped in with other holiday mail clutter, but the cards will beat the sales cycle, reaching clients before they make most holiday gift purchases instead of after. Your cost: $1-$5 per customer.
Successful business owners should always invest time and effort into thanking their customers. This modest investment will pay off ten-fold through repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising.
About the author: Biana Babinsky is an online marketing expert who has helped many business owners attract more web site customers, bring in more online publicity and increase the bottom line. Visit http://www.avocadoconsulting.com to subscribe to her newsletter full of marketing tips and ideas.