In the past, successful companies sent sports tickets and other expensive gifts as a way to thank their best customers. But with the economic recession creating a new frugality, these overly generous gifts have become a definite business faux pas. These days, costly gifts frequently bring comments from customers like, “I must be paying them too much.”
A simpler, more personal and ultimately very effective way to say thank you can cost you next to nothing. While pricey gifts are great, these actions can mean much more:
1. Make a call. Pick up the phone with no agenda other than to tell your customer how much and why you appreciate their business. Since this is done so infrequently, it's a very powerful way to say thank you. Even leaving a voice mail will send a compelling message your customers won't soon forget.
2. Send a handwritten thank-you note. With email taking over more and more of our business communications, companies that take the time to send handwritten notes really stand out. The thank-you cards can even be customized and printed from American Greetings. Jenny Lind Walsh, president of construction contracting firm Legacy Contracting, sends $2 bills with her thank-you notes because they're unique and customers hold onto them.
3. Get creative or crazy. Entrepreneurship coach Mike Kawula, aka Self Employed King, uses the freelance resources at Fiverr (where everything starts at just $5) to send fun, custom thank-you messages to his customers. This can be anything from a simulated news broadcast to having someone hold a personal thank-you sign in Times Square.
4. Create an anniversary. Jeff Krantz of Krantz Training, a sales training company, celebrates the date each customer made his first purchase from Krantz's company. Setting aside a special day for each customer is an effective way to take the time to say thanks for the business.
5. Post a social media call out. Thank your best customers publicly on a social media platform that they use often so they'll be sure to see it. It's always enjoyable to be recognized socially in front of your peers.
6. Say it with pictures. Pam Wirtz, owner of Grace Landscaping, has a set of notecards made from photos of customers’ gardens and then sends it to her customers with a thank-you note. According to Wirtz, each packet costs less than $7.
8. Use a freebie. Sheila Kurtz, president of handwriting analysis company Graphology Group, sends customers a gift package of prepaid CHAP (computer-assisted handwriting analysis program) forms to distribute to their friends and colleagues so they can pass along a fun experience for free.
9. Hold a free event. Have a thank you event for customers where they can learn something related to the business. Tina Mosetis at MosetisPR then takes pictures of her customers at these events and sends them the framed photo.
10. Tweet a coffee. Through Starbucks “Tweet a Coffee” program, you can send eGift cards to your customers by using their Twitter handle. This beta version, only available to Twitter users in the U.S., allows the recipient to claim a $5 Starbucks eGift card.
11. Showcase your customers' business on your website. Every customer likes the free recognition (and marketing push) that comes from being showcased on another company’s website. Create a thank-you page on your site that highlights your top customers and why you appreciate them so much. Phone solution provider Grasshopper went a step further and created a thank-you page for their customers to thank others who've helped them along the way.
12. Refer a customer. What better way to say thank you than to send a new customer to one of your top clients? They'll certainly never forget that.
How do you thank your customers for their business? Share your tips in the comments below.
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