By Patrick Whelan, Great Reach Communications, Inc.
This isn’t a lesson about common courtesy; rather it’s about leveraging an underutilized edge in the marketplace. While this may not be news to anyone who sells print, it’s worth noting that there’s more than one way to say thank you to customers. You might go so far as to say that not all expressions of gratitude can be considered equal!
Here are a few of the various ways to show your appreciation:
- Customer appreciation events. These create a great opportunity for some one-on-one contact, as well as the opportunity to extend the relationship beyond the salesperson. You might want to do these annually, quarterly, etc.
- Make sure it’s personal. Consider handwritten thank-yous and letters of appreciation. If your company conducts a customer satisfaction survey, include a personalized note—or better yet, hand deliver it.
- Timing is everything. Don’t sacrifice timeliness for the sake of providing something more elaborate. Letting clients know you value their business within 48 hours of a job is the most important factor.
- Send value-added appreciation. Always be on the lookout for information that a customer might find useful and send it along at the right moment. Timely and relevant are the keys. Even if the client has already seen it, they’ll appreciate the fact that you’re recognizing them and supporting their interests.
- Thank your unhappy customers. Complaints provide invaluable information about where you need to focus your efforts. “A customer who complains still wants to do business with you, if you can make things right,” notes B. J. Gallagher, an HR training consultant. “So thank him or her for giving you that chance and assure him that you want to do everything you can to make him happy again.”
- Keep it simple. If you want to send gifts, something small like a Starbucks gift card can be effective while avoiding the risk of inappropriateness. Small tokens of appreciation can have a very big impact.
- Be sincere. The only time a thank you can disappoint is when it sounds non-genuine. “Thank-yous need to be sincere and on-brand,” says brand consultant William Arruda.