February is the month dedicated to love and friendship among lovers, friends and family. However, spreading the love shouldn’t be restricted to only these relationships. Now business owners, both small and large, should take the opportunity to court their customers to show how important they really are. Creating and maintaining relationships with customers can be a challenge, but a few simple steps can ensure customers feel appreciated and show their business matters. The right interactions can also foster and an opportunity to create a memorable experience for new customers and cultivate new relationships.
Some factors to consider beforehand are to understand you brand’s personality internally as well establish specific goals or purpose for each customer interaction. This will help customers understand your brand image and how it’s relevant to their needs and will also serve as a way to analyze customer touch points from beginning to end.
Below are some tips to show customers “the love” and improve the customer experience:
1. In a world of 24/7, don’t forget to reach out. There are so many ways to stay in touch now and while individuals are more connected than ever we often forget to engage in personal and meaningful relationships. To accomplish this send handwritten thank you cards tailored to customer experiences. Consider sending follow-up cards and making personal phone calls to ask for customer feedback. Also, make a point to acknowledge significant events like birthdays and holidays. Paying attention to details and taking that extra step can make the difference in creating meaningful and personal relationships with customers.
2. Offer quality customer service. Excellent customer service should be offered through any and all avenues when interacting with customers. Show your commitment by answering inquiries through all mediums in a timely manner.
3. Nurture existing relationships. Give your most loyal customers something special for helping your business grow. Thank them with a personal plaque or award or create a wall of fame with photographs. This makes customers be part of something bigger and feel part of your team.
4. Create private, invitation only events. Make customers feel like they are getting the “inside track” such as service reviews, pre-sale first look or educational forums. Polling customers on what events interest them can make them part of the entire experience from the beginning.
5. Make purchases interactive and fun. Create contests and drawings where customers can win prizes or give customers a prize after a certain number of purchases.
6. Incorporate all of the senses. Treat visitors to your space like guests at a four star resort. Consider having great coffee and other beverages along with treats like cookies and chocolate, and don’t forget to smile! Whether you have a retail or office environment, be purposeful about the visual smells, sounds and temperature. The goal is to create a memorable and positive experience for every customer.
7. Develop a signature thank you gift for doing business with you. Make sure it’s something creative and special that customers can’t get from competitors. Really spend some time thinking about the kind of gift that works well with your brand. You can also develop "gift levels" that will allow you to budget your gift spend accordingly and try to time and money developing a unique gift and packaging.
Once you have executed each touch point, make sure to go back and analyze results and changes before during and after each customer touch point based on customer feedback and find ways to improve. Customers will applaud your attentiveness and commitment and will want others to know and experience this as well. So let the loving begin!
Frank Cowell is president and founder of Elevator, a Carlsbad-based creative agency, where he works with progressive brands to help them gain preference among target customers. E;evator represents companies in the areas of brand development, marketing, advertising and marketing support. Learn more at www.elevatoragency.com. (Twitter: @elevatoragency, @frankcowell / Facebook: Elevator Agency)