Love is in the air this month and it’s a great time to think about how you can better love your customers! On Valentine’s day, we shower our special someone with flowers and chocolate and poetry. I even knew a woman who’s husband sent a barbershop quartet each year to serenade her at work. Color me envious, but I digress.While you may not be in romantic love with your customers, you can show them your passion for service and provide a little old fashioned courtship that will keep them coming back for more. The key to customers who feel loved is personalization.
Here are 6 Ways to Love Your Customers this Valentine’s Day and Beyond
1. Show Them Off. You can love your customers by honoring them a little in a way that makes sense for your business. For example, Leisure Park and a few other Five Star Senior Living Communities honors their residents who are veteran’s with a special display of their photos on the wall or in their lobby. One of my favorite morning show’s, Your Business with JJ Ramberg encourages viewers to take a selfie that represents their small business and tweet it with the hashtag #YourBizSelfie, and shares them on the show. You can show off their successes by sharing them on social media. Find a way to show off your customers and they’ll be feeling the love.
2. Celebrate with Them. Love your customers by getting to know their special days and celebrate with them. For instance, Shanna Henkel, the owner of the Village Coffee Shop in Boulder, Colorado writes the birthdays of her regular customers on a calendar. When they come in on or around their special day, she surprises them with well wishes and a birthday breakfast. Rick Salmeron of Salmeron Financial records a short video message for every one of his clients on their birthdays. The Gaylord Opryland staff will sometimes surprise guests who are celebrating a big day with a standing ovation by the grand staircase. Nothing says “we love you” than a little celebration of a meaningful day.
3. Do More Than Expected. Two of my favorite stories about doing more than expected come from my own team. Do you mind if I brag a little on our Director of Delight Beth Johnson? Long before she worked for Red-Carpet Learning Systems, she was a server in a restaurant. The restaurant was out of baked potatoes and her customer was sorely disappointed. Beth ordered a potato from another restaurant, had it delivered, and blew her guest’s mind by going the extra mile to get her what she really wanted. She brings this can-do attitude to her role at Red Carpet! Last year during our Train-the-Trainer program, one of our participants left their jacket. We were going to ship it to her. However, Beth remembered that she said she had a little wait at the airport before their flight, so she drove out of her way to deliver it to her. She was delighted! Want your customers to love you? Do more than expected.
4. Give Them Gifts. Want to give your customers a little love in the form of star treatment? Give them a little swag! That’s free stuff. Everyone loves to receive gifts. Susan Harper, the Executive Director of Asheville Community Theatre, recalled how surprised she was by the positive response her team of staff and volunteers got by simply handing out Hershey kisses when people arrived to the theatre. Head to your local Ace Hardware store and they’ll treat you to a free bag of popcorn. At ScanMyPhotos.com they randomly send bouquets of flowers to their customers. Love your customers with gifts and remember, it’s not the price tag, but the thought that counts.
5. Discover and Delight. Take your gifting to a whole new level by Discovering new things about your customers and using the information to Delight them. Our friends at Ruby Receptionists are masters at this! For instance, when they knew I had the privilege of sitting in the bleacher seats on the red carpet for the Academy Awards, they sent me a little plastic Oscar-like Award with a note that said “just in case I didn’t win anything. Also, recently when I was with our customers, the food service department at Big Spring Country Club, I accepted a cup of coffee, black, when customer service superstar Larmar offered. The next day, without even asking, he appeared first thing in the morning with a cup of black coffee for me. In other words, he discovered that I like black coffee, and he delighted me by anticipating I might want another cup the next morning! On both occasions, I was feeling the love.
6. Invite them to Special Events. Another way to love your customers is to host special events just for them. For instance, as a subscriber and donor to North Carolina Stage Company in Asheville, I get to attend the “Sneak Peek” event where they announce their season of plays for the coming year. It makes me feel important, special and “in the know.” Another example comes from Alex Bracke, a realtor based in northern Virginia. He has several client appreciation events throughout the year, but the most anticipated is his annual family movie day. He rents a movie theatre out and shows a family-friendly film. Clients past and present are given free tickets, walk down the red carpet, gifted with free popcorn, and have their photos taken in front of a special background. What a great way to show some red carpet love to his customers even AFTER the sale was made.
Most importantly, remember to love your customers year round! A heart-shaped box of chocolates is yummy and soon gone, and it’s year-round romance that truly earns your place in someone’s heart. Use Valentine’s day as a springboard to show your customers some love and then keep the red carpet out and the love flowing and you’ll find it flows right back to you and your business.
Donna Cutting is the author of two books on customer service including 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers and The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service. She is the Founder and CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. and leads a team of customer service experts who help leaders engage their people to raise the bar on their customer service. Download our free engagement toolkit here, and follow us on our YouTube channel for even more tips like these.