As a small business owner, being grateful for your loyal customers — and showing them appreciation — is a gift that keeps on giving.
A Bain & Company study found that loyal customers are worth 10 times as much as their first purchase. So showing these customers extra appreciation can increase your bottom line and be more cost-effective than acquiring new customers.
Here are eight easy ways to show your customers you care.
Throw in a free gift with purchase
Offering a free gift when customers purchase something from your shop makes them feel appreciated and more likely to return in the future. You can gift anything from free skin lotion to a complimentary wrapping service, to something as simple as throwing a bag of sweets in with their order!
Invite customers to exclusive events
Reward your most loyal customers by inviting them to a special VIP event at your shop. This could be anything from a cocktail party to celebrate the new season, the launch of a new item on your menu or just a Friday night shopping party because why not? The special invite, and rolling out the proverbial red carpet, ensures your customers feel the love.
Respond to customer complaints right away
Nothing says “I appreciate you” like actually listening to your customers’ suggestions and complaints. Many shoppers offer their input when prompted, not expecting very much back. Show you’re different by listening to all suggestions and feedback, and if you can see the merit in implementing them, then do so.
When it comes to complaints, you absolutely should respond as soon as possible. Don’t brush them aside with email templates, try to have a senior staff member engage with them by email, phone call or live chat service if your online shop has such a feature. Always open with a genuine apology, and do what you can to rectify the situation. A strong customer feedback program integrated with your point of sale gives you a cohesive way to keep in touch with customers and keeps an open channel for easy, effective communication.
Send a handwritten note
In a world of tweets and mass-email blasts, sending a handwritten note with a delivery or an in-shop purchase shows customers you’re taking the time to care. Send them to the first 50 shoppers in a day or to your top customers — either way, it’s a great way for you to show appreciation for your customers’ business. Don’t have time? Give your staff members business cards or slips saying “Your order was lovingly packed by…”, all they have to do is sign a few dozen at a time to have a ready stockpile of personalised touches to add to their deliveries.
Provide an upgrade
If you provide a service, give customers a free upgrade to say thank you. If you’re a retail shop, make it a one-time discount. If you’re a restaurant, maybe you add a free drink or starter. If you’re a hairdresser and have just finished a cut and colour on a client, give them a free sample of colour-protecting shampoo.
Feature your best customers on social media
Featuring a “Customer of the Week” on social media helps your customers get their 15 seconds of fame, makes them feel appreciated and shows customers that people just like them shop with you. If you want to get your customers to participate and promote your brand on social, clearly communicate what they can do to be featured, whether it’s taking a picture of a recent purchase and posting it with your hashtag or sending you a video about why they love your brand that you can post. Of course, not everyone will be willing to have their faces plastered across your social media for no good reason – so combining a feature wall with the offer of a free gift always helps.
Host raffles or giveaways
With each purchase over a set period of time, give customers a raffle ticket or enter them into a giveaway for a special treat. It gives customers the feeling of winning something special and that gives them a reason to come back to the shop. Make sure you post all official rules for your drawings in your shop and on your website, so customers know how to participate.
Create a thank-you video
Create a thank-you video for your customers and email it out to them. Try to get all your employees involved in this one so you can help customers put a face to your business. Feeling like they know you and your employees makes them more likely to come back and everyone likes knowing the humans behind the brand.