The fact that you run a business that is still functioning means that you know it’s important to thank your customers! In an economy where competition is ever-increasing and consumers have more options than they’d ever know what to do with, it’s even more crucial to cultivate a loyal customer base. So today we’re going to take a look at why — and how — to thank your customers effectively without breaking the bank.
Why it’s a big deal
Let’s just look at some numbers, shall we?
- You know the 80⁄20 rule — 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your existing customers.
- According to Forbes.com, attracting new customers costs a company five times more than keeping an existing customer.
- The same article notes that it’s about 50% easier to sell to existing customers than to brand-new prospects.
- According to a Genesis Global survey cited by customer experience firm Smile.io, 68% of businesses have lost a customer because that customer felt the business was indifferent to him or her.
- The same survey also revealed that 86% of American shoppers are willing to pay more for better customer experience, and 38% attribute a good customer experience to personalization.
Finally, a Harvard Business School study determined that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25% to a whopping 95%.
To summarize: Your customers need to know you appreciate them — individually and personally. Ensuring they know their value to your company will help keep them brand-loyal. Keeping them as your customers allows you to most effectively sell, increase profits, and keep your business thriving.
And how do your customers know they’re appreciated? You might have this already in hand, but it’s never a bad thing to get more ideas. So read on!
The Pen Is Mighty
According to accounting solutions firm Due.com, including a simple statement of thanks on an invoice can increase the percentage of invoices paid by more than five percent. When you’re a contracting firm with invoices ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars, does that ever add up!
In an era of e- everything — e-mail, e-billing, e-newsletters — go analog and send a handwritten note. You can even jot a quick line on your invoices if you mail them, or send a simple, classy (and, of course, branded!) thank-you card. But the power of just a few seconds to write a kind, appreciative word to a customer can be e-normous. It’s personal, it’s simple, and it’s e-ffective. (See what we did there?)
As you write those notes, make it more than a perfunctory “Thanks, Jim!” Take an extra 45 seconds to write a sentence or two, using some power words to make the most significant impact. Make sure it’s natural, first of all, but include words like “grateful”, “appreciate”, “recognize”, and “acknowledge” — according to customer service expert and author Adam Toporek, these words can help express your thanks with a little more genuine oomph.
While you’re living in the written world, consider allocating some budget for holiday cards. Remembering your customers at Thanksgiving or Christmas with a simple card recapping your year and thanking them for being part of it can be an effective way to build a little top-of-mind awareness and stand out among the businesses they’ve worked with over the course of the year. Or, if you don’t want to get mixed in with the rest of the seasonal mail, send a card for a different holiday, like Valentine’s Day, Easter, or even Christmas in July. Finally, if your business offers a discount for veterans, consider pulling the list of folks who have qualified for it each year and sending a simple note thanking them for their service on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or the Fourth of July.
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
To build on your thank-you cards, consider some other (free!) ways of using visuals to reinforce your gratitude. This is where CompanyCam can be great! When you finish a customer’s project, create a custom gallery, with Before and After photos and a clean timeline. It only takes a few minutes to create something so personal that also shows off your work. Bonus, they have those photos for documentation with their insurance company, banker, or other records, so you’ve given them something with actual value that, thanks to CompanyCam, cost you about two minutes. Coupled with a personalized email, this can have a really lasting impact.
If you have customers who are especially social media-savvy, you can also dedicate a few posts per month to customer shout-outs. A simple Instagram photo (again, with CompanyCam, you’ve got albums full of photos at your disposal!) or Tweet with a genuine sentence of thanks to a customer, identified by name (stick with first name and last initial if you aren’t sure they’ll like the shout-out, or if you’ve had an awesome interaction and they’re OK with it, tag them for extra emphasis) can go a long way in a culture that thrives on recognition.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
If your budget allows, consider what you might be able to tangibly offer repeat customers. It doesn’t have to be much, and it doesn’t even have to be consistent! A random rebate for customers who have done business with you before can create a story they’ll love sharing. For instance, give your sales team the discretion to offer a $25 “Thanks for your loyalty!” discount each month for a customer who they’ve worked with before, and make sure your accountant itemizes it that way on the invoice and the salesman writes a personal note on the bill before it’s mailed. On a bill measuring in the hundreds or thousands, it’s not a huge deal to your bottom line, but imagine how valued that customer would feel opening the mail and having $25 put back in their pocket, just because.
Another idea, if your budget allows, would be a loyalty program, offering special discounts or upgrades for top customers. Depending on your industry, this could be a tricky thing to pull off for contractors, but if implemented correctly, it can be effective. Maybe it’s a maintenance program (for a small fee, you’ll inspect the gizmo you installed on an annual or semi-annual basis, and any repairs would be done at a 5% discount) or a complimentary upgrade for customers who have worked with you on two or more past occasions. Look for ways to increase the value of working with you again — even if cost isn’t the most effective driver for customers to a business, it’s still a nice way of saying thank-you and making previous customers feel exclusive and special.
Finally, time is money, and if you can’t swing a discount program, you can still likely spare a few minutes for a personal phone call or two on a regular basis. Ask your sales team to provide you the name and phone number of repeat customers, and call a couple of them each week or each month just to say thank-you. A call from someone in leadership at the business is still a big deal to many customers. It doesn’t need to be a long conversation, but a quick call to say you appreciate that they have so many options but they came back to you to service their gizmo can set you far apart from the everyday transactions they make.
Your mom always taught you to say please and thank-you…and those lessons never get old. Making sure you appropriately and adequately thank your customers is critical, but not hard. Take the time to do it well…and your business will thank you.