Building Customer Loyalty (written July, 2003)

The Very Best Way – and the way that we use here at CME – to build customer loyalty for their business is with a personalized letter. You might think that it’s sufficient to just give them a call and thank them over the phone, but a call is not the same! You see, with a phone call, after you’ve hung up the phone, you cease to exist.

But with a letter – That’s different. You took the time – your valuable time – to write to them, and it shows. You composed your thoughts and actually put them down on a piece of paper. Then you found an envelope and a stamp, married them together and put your letter in the mail. What courage. What fortitude. What substance.

Now your customer has a personal letter of thanks sitting on their desk right in front of them. Unlike your phone call, that little piece of “good will” can sit on their desk for quite a while.

When you show your customers that you appreciate them, they will appreciate you back a lot, lot, lot more! When you take the time to send a customer a nice letter, he’ll think, “Wow – they really are grateful for my business. I’ll go back there!” People like to be appreciated – don’t we all? What better way than to send a personal note of thanks.  A “thank you” letter also works hard as a great marketing tool for your home business. When you thank customers for the referrals they bring to you, they say,  “They really appreciate that referral, what nice folks! We’ll keep our mind open and try to refer some more customers to them!”

Always keep it personal! You know what else you can do? A thank you letter can also be used as part of your marketing campaign. Send thank you letters to your top 100 customers. If you’re in a big business environment, send 1,000 thank you letters then. Here’s the trick: even if you mail a million letters – always keep it personal. Make each letter look so personal that the recipient thinks they are the only one receiving it. The campaign will bring you more business. A lot more business! And it will build loyalty.

Another effective method is to surprise your customers with greeting cards. You might send cards to people at Christmas, but surprisingly, Christmas is not the best time. In fact, if you’re sending a card at Christmas, bad news – yours is just one of the pack. Pick another holiday: July 4th, Memorial Day, or Halloween even. Your card will stand out and be appreciated.

You may consider sending your customers cards before daylight savings time. You can hand write at the bottom. “This is a reminder to set your clock back.” or, Feb. 29th or on Ground Hog’s day. Or on every major holiday.

Here Our Top Ten Ways To Say “Thank You.”

While sending out cards on special occasions is a great way to show your appreciation, here are some other effective and inexpensive ways:

  1. Under promise and over deliver. Do just a little bit more, write it up with your regular bill and say “no charge” in small print.
  2. Work hard, and bill fairly. It’s not necessary to under bill – just be fair!
  3. Pay your bills promptly. Especially in the small business arena – vendors notice!
  4. Bring jobs in on time and on budget.
  5. Call people back promptly. Even if it’s just to acknowledge you’ve received their call and you’ll get back to them in depth at a later time.
  6. Thank customers for their orders – each and every time!
  7. Face people and smile when you say thanks. Let them know it’s not an afterthought, and you are taking the extra 5 seconds to say it face to face.
  8. Say “thanks! Thank you very much!” in all your written correspondence. And mean it.
  9. Send them a low-key “thank you” gift, such as a book.
  10. Still my favorite: Send out that simple letter saying thanks. It’s inexpensive to do and shows your appreciation. Surprisingly it’s the best way to get more business and build loyalty to you and your home-based firm. Don’t forget – it really is a privilege to have customers do business with you. They all could go somewhere else. Do you know what other firms call your best customers? Prospects.

“The toughest thing about being a success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success.” – Irving Berlin.

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.