What are you doing right now to appreciate your customers? This was the topic of a board meeting I attended the other day. The not-for-profit I do some volunteer work with has strategic goal to grow to a certain point within the next three years. We met to discuss a plan for making that happen, and it starts with showing more appreciation for our current donors and supporters.
At one point, while we were talking about the opportunities for attracting more donors (or customers), the Development Director asked and then answered her own question: “How do you get more people from the outside? You start on the inside.”
Yes! Yes! Yes!!
If you want to expand to the outside (i.e. get new customers), start by focusing on the inside. In other words, Appreciate Your Customers and THEY will bring the new customers.
Do it without expectation of anything in return. As our Queen of Visibility said in a recent post, intent matters. You want to love and appreciate your customers for the sole purpose providing them with a great experience. If your efforts are ONLY about getting referrals, they will feel it. Focus on demonstrating gratitude and helping them feel a connection to your organization. What can you do so they feel loved and like part of the family?
The thing is that while it’s not about getting good reviews or referrals, when you appreciate your customers intentionally and with good intentions, you’ll see those rave reviews and an increase in business. If you focus on the inside, word will spread to the outside!
You’ll also save money. According to several studies, and statistics compiled in an Infographic by invesp, it can cost 5 times as much to attract a new customer than to keep a current one.
So how do show appreciation for your customers and help them feel more connected to your organization? Here are four ideas you can put into action right now to shower a little love on your internal customers.
- Engage Your Entire Team to Get to Know Your Customers: Recently our team worked with the food and beverage team of a country club where their customers are actually members. The BEST thing the team members do to make the members feel valued and special is that they really know them. They know and use their names and know their preferences. Staff spend a great deal of time learning about the members and there are a variety of methods they used to do so. For instance, there are photos of their members within the point of sale software; co-workers help new team members by discreetly sharing information; and they highlight members at their team meetings. When you intentionally work to learn and use the names of customers, and remember and refer to what they share with you, you make them feel seen, heard, important and like part of the family.
- Empower Your Team to Love ‘Em Up: You may have heard me share that we use Ruby Receptionists as our answering service. One of the reasons for my loyalty to them is because of the way their team is empowered to shower their customers with appreciation and love! Often enough, I head to my mailbox and find a card or mini-gift from one of their receptionists or team members. It makes me feel like they know, like and appreciate me. Notice, I said ME….not my business. While I know they are thankful for my business, the personalized notes and gifts, and occasional video messages make ME feel important and special. We’re also trying something new at Red Carpet. Thanks to and idea from Fabienne Fredrickson and her Boldheart program, we’ve developed our Love ‘Em Up program. Each person on my team has a list of customers they regularly interact with, a stack of notecards, and instructions to Love ‘Em Up! The great thing is that my team is SO excited about this, because the focus is NOT on bringing in business – but on showing appreciation for the people who are already a part of our business!
- Give them Sneak Peeks. As a donor and subscriber to North Carolina Stage Company, the professional theatre in Asheville, I look forward to their “sneak peek” every year. It’s the day they invite supporters to a special event where they provide the first look at the upcoming season of plays by having actors perform readings from each. I love it because I get to be “in the know” before they break the news to everyone else. Think about the announcements you make each year and consider how to use them to make your loyal customers feel appreciated. Could you give them a behind-the-scenes look that no one else gets?
- Host Special Events Just for them. When my friend Diane Anderson owned her dog training business, she would invite all of her customers to an annual pool party at her house. Human and canine customers alike looked forward to it all year long. Realtor Alex Bracke, hosts a family movie night where his customers walk the red carpet, much on hot buttered popcorn, and enjoy a family family film. Says Alex, “It’s the most anticipated event of the year.”
What about you? What ways do you appreciate your customers? What new ways will you try? Comment below and let us know!
Donna Cutting, CSP is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. and the author of two books on customer service including her latest, 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers. She leads a team of experts who help organizational leaders engage their people to deliver an exceptional customer experience. To download our free report, 21 Days of Thank You, to help you show appreciation to your INTERNAL customers, fill out the form on the right side of each page of our website.