5 Ways to Put Customers First

In the social media age, customers expect to engage with the businesses they patronize. Here are out-of-the-box ways to show your gratitude.
October 08, 2012 When small-business owner Beth Davidson wants to thank customers for their patronage, the owner of Dragonfly Shops & Gardens believes in as public an acknowledgment as possible. To do so, she often uses social media.

“If it’s appropriate, I try to thank people in a way that is most beneficial to them,” says Davidson, whose boutique retail shop in Orange, Calif. features a mix of home and garden merchandise, personal items like clothing and jewelry and offers classes on a variety of topics. “Recently, for instance, I did a shout-out on Facebook about a customer who does wedding photography and recommended her services.” 

Savvy business owners know that thanking customers is good business, and when the acknowledgments are also clever and innovative, even better, says Prudential Realtor Kathy McCarthy, who owns her own business and spends a great deal of time devising imaginative ways to recognize her clients.

This National Customer Service Week, try experimenting with the following creative ways for putting your customers in the limelight.

1. Thank them exponentially. Davidson’s acknowledgment of customers via social media serves a variety of purposes. “Customers love it when you turn the tables and put the spotlight on them, and it really is a win-win for everyone,” she says. “You get to thank them for their patronage, and they receive exposure for their business.”

In order to be able to spread the word about the services customers offer, take the time to talk with clients and learn about their lives, advises Davidson. 

“Chit-chat reveals a great deal about people,” she says. “Taking a few moments to talk gives you key information, such as if a person owns a photography studio or sells insurance, or if the customer is a collector of your merchandise.”

2. Throw a party. Just about everyone loves a reason to celebrate, and McCarthy capitalizes on that fact by throwing an “introduction” party for new clients. 

“In areas where I’ve sold several homes, I’ve thrown parties for people who are new to a neighborhood,” she says. “I’ll invite their neighbors, whom I’ve sold to in the past, as well as local business professionals like dentists and doctors who could potentially get business from the introductions,” she says. “Everyone has a great time, and a variety of connections are inevitably made.”

3. Create a customer “wall of fame.” A wall of fame that contains photos of customers puts the spotlight on them and serves as a visual reminder to all who enter your office of how much you value your clients. Make the presentation appealing by putting each photo in matching frames and devoting a wall to the display. For those individuals who prefer not to be photographed, have a plaque engraved with their name. A virtual wall of fame on your website can also work well. 

4. Write about your customers. Spotlight your best customers by interviewing them and including the articles in a company newsletter. Take the opportunity to ask what they think about your services, as well as information about themselves, such as their hobbies and careers and if they own their own businesses. Most people enjoy reading about themselves and are bound to pass the article on to everyone they know, which is great advertising for you.

5. Create a company video. Video content is a rapidly growing segment of online media. Take advantage of this technology and film your own video that includes information on your company, some of which can be told through your best customers. Flatter those clients by featuring them in the video and ask them to share anecdotes about your business that illustrate why they’ve remained loyal customers. 

For the small-business owner, celebrating customers is an enjoyable task that leads to happy clients and increased business at any time of year.  

Read more customer service advice. 

A freelancer since 1985, Julie Bawden-Davis has written for many publications, including Entrepreneur, Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle. Julie blogs via Contently.com.