The Customer Loyalty Investment

This is a guest post by Christopher Wallace

There’s nothing more disheartening than feeling like your hard work goes unnoticed. You show up on time, diligently accomplish your tasks, and believe in the quality of your work. So why doesn’t the boss ever say thank you?

Thank-you-note-by-ralph-and-jenny
Photo courtesy of ralph and jenny

If he’s smart, he does. Employees with a notion of self-worth are more likely to work hard and consider the company’s best interest first. That same principle exists with customers as well. Even if it’s just a casual ‘thank you, have a nice day’ from a cashier, small formalities and courtesies matter.

Trust and respect are at the core of any healthy relationship, both business and personal. Many marketing programs focus on gaining new customers. If you don’t take care of the ones you have, however, your business will never grow. The next time a ‘thank you’ is in order, consider these easy methods that won’t quickly be forgotten.

Send a Real Thank You Note

When I was a child, writing thank you notes after birthdays and holidays was a regular chore. In my adult life, however, I realize the value of these. When an aunt or uncle received a thank you note, they knew I loved their gift, and were more likely to remember my next birthday as well.

Times have changed, but a handwritten thank you note still goes a long way. An email is better than nothing, but it’s no substitute for ink and paper.

Make the process simple for yourself. Keep stationary with your name or company letterhead readily available, along with a book of stamps. With everything on hand, writing out three-to-four sentences of gratitude doesn’t take five minutes, but the lasting effect on the recipient’s impression of you could be permanent.

Get to Know People

Whether it’s an employee or a customer, feeling appreciated comes far more naturally when the person has a connection to you. Even at the lowest levels of a company, an employee who feels like their boss cares about them and their family will work harder and be happier at their job.

Inquire about your clients’ lives. Are they about to get married or have a child? Did they recently lose a parent or wreck their car? Whether it’s flowers, a gift basket, or simply an email, acknowledging changes in a person’s life lets them know you value their relationship to you.

Reward Loyalty

Perhaps your first job was at a supermarket or a fast-food restaurant. You never planned to stay there forever, but you were happy to be working. However, once the monotony of the work routine set in, you started dreaming about your next move. Then, one day, the boss let you know you were due for a raise. That extra dollar an hour removed any thought of quitting from your mind. You happily worked there for six more months, before being offered a raise and promotion all over again.

The same principle works with customers. On my commute home, I pass six grocery stores and eight gas stations. One of the grocery stores has a rewards program that’s connected with a gas station. For every dollar I spend at either place, I accumulate points that I can use for free gasoline. Hence, the decision of where to purchase gasoline is an obvious no-brainer. The more loyal I remain to one station and store, the more money I’ll save.

Little Things Matter

Atmosphere and environment go a long way to encourage return customers and long-term employees. If the lighting in your office hurts employees’ eyes and the A/C unit constantly goes out, you’re encouraging them to complain and fostering discontent. Think of maintaining and decorating an office as an investment. A few plants around the office do a lot more than just ‘brighten things up.’ Pleasant surroundings foster well-being, and happy employees are productive employees.

Similarly, customers expect to shop or do business in a place that feels clean and welcoming. Don’t fall behind the curve. If one cheese shop has harsh fluorescent lighting and no free samples, while another down the street has broad wooden counters and slices of gouda on a tray for customers to munch on, which store do you think will get more repeat visitors? The first store might even sell better cheese, but they’re unlikely to compete with free samples, pleasant ambiance, and a customer’s feeling that their purchase is appreciated by the store.

People want to feel needed, even if it’s for the simple act of making a small purchase. By providing an atmosphere that’s welcoming, a business lets their customers know that they care about their experience. It all boils down to respect.

However you say thank you, don’t think of it as a chore. Showing gratitude is a long-term investment you can’t afford not to make.

Christopher-Wallace-Amsterdam-Printing
Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Amsterdam specializes in promotional pens, personalized pens and other personalized items.

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