Nov 28 2017
Sometimes we miss the easy things. In our mad dash to find new customers, we forget to appreciate the ones we have. When I’m working with new clients who want to grow their businesses, one of the first exercises I do is to make concentric circles of all the people they should communicate with on a regular basis. Think of this as the dartboard of communication, with a big, red bullseye in the middle.
Oddly enough, the two groups who belong in the bullseye often get left out when I ask, “Who are your target audiences?”
Those two groups are employees and existing customers.
With employees, it is essential to reinforce organizational goals, so people understand how their work contributes to the organization’s overall success. It is also important to share accomplishments, so people know they’re part of a successful endeavor. Most employees are already invested in the organization. By sharing good news, you’ll engender a sense of pride and cohesion; everyone from janitors to managers will have the information and inclination to promote the organization.
There are two groups in that bullseye: employees and existing customers. Oddly enough, these two groups often get left out when I ask, “Who are your target audiences?”
As for existing customers, while they may not have as much invested as employees, they’ve chosen your product or service over others, and if you treat them right, they’re likely to do so again. Demonstrating your appreciation for customers can result in their loyalty and the most powerful marketing in the world: referrals from a trusted source.
SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION
How can you let your customers know you appreciate them? Lots of ways–you are only limited by your creativity (and budget). How you show appreciation varies on your particular type of business or service, but the very best way to build customer loyalty is to provide amazing service.
Once you’ve implemented gold-star service, here are some additional ways to show your appreciation.
- Ask for feedback about your product and/or service–and use it! Then, let all your customers know you made changes based on customer feedback.
- Reward referrals.
- Create a loyalty program that offers special offers and/or discounts.
- Based on a customer’s purchase, recommend other useful products or services. With permission, refer them to trusted partners.
- Teach your customers something interesting, especially if it helps them appreciate your product or service even more. Offer free webinars and/or invite experts to present topics of interest.
- Refer business to your customers.
- Send a small, unexpected gift every now and then.
If you do nothing else, just be sure to keep in touch with your customers periodically. Of course, it goes without saying that you should always respect customers’ communication preferences; if they say, “Don’t communicate with me,” leave them alone.
Demonstrating your appreciation for customers can result in their loyalty and the most powerful marketing in the world: referrals from a trusted source.
In addition to earning repeat business and referrals, working with current customers can tell you a lot about where you can find new customers. Returning to that dartboard of communication, the concentric circle just outside the bullseye includes potential customers who share many traits with your existing customers. If you have a clear sense of how you meet your current customers’ needs, you can use that information to attract new customers. The more you focus on how you help your customers do what they want to do or be who they want to be, the more your customers will keep coming back.
If you’d like assistance in figuring out who to communicate with and how to formulate effective messages, get in touch! I’d love to help you. And if you’d like to receive a little communication inspiration straight to your inbox, subscribe here.
Nov 14 2017
What if you could spend just ten minutes a day on an activity that was guaranteed to lift your mood, as well as improve the mood, productivity, and loyalty of those you work with? Probably worth it, right?
When I was the communications director at a hospital, the hospital had a contract with the Studer Group, an organization that helps healthcare organizations continually improve, clinically and financially. One of the Studer Group’s many directives required executives and directors to send thank you notes to workmates and employees—not once in a while to recognize exceptional behavior, but weekly or even daily to let people know how much we appreciated both the big things and the little things they did.
My boss provided grids so we could record how often we sent thank you notes and to whom. I felt like Big Brother was watching me and, honestly, I was a little resentful that I had to report my thank you note completion rate to the CEO. But, since I wanted to remain employed, I got with the program. I bought personalized thank you cards and started to look for people who needed thanking.
And that’s when the magic started.
I am naturally a positive and optimistic person. I tend to see the good in people and I can usually find a silver lining in the darkest of clouds, but I did not anticipate the effect of writing regular thank you notes. My outlook got even brighter and my relationships improved, too. Those thank you notes I sent to others were like little boosters for my positivity.
On days when my thank you grid was a little sparse, I began looking for someone to thank, so I’d pay attention to the smallest act of kindness or extra work. These were the times I noticed how dedicated and thoughtful so many of the hospital employees were. I never had trouble finding reasons to thank people. And when I sent them a thank you note, they were often so surprised that someone noticed or cared about those little acts, that they made a point of mentioning how grateful they were to receive my note. These notes created a neverending loop of good feelings.
How to Write a Heartfelt Thank You Note, Even if you Don’t Like to Get Mushy
I understand that for some, the idea of writing a thank you note is about as appealing as a colonoscopy. People don’t know where to begin or what to say.
So first, let’s focus on who deserves your appreciation and then we’ll figure out how you can show it to them.
Beginning with your workplace, are there any people who make your daily experience a little better? A secretary who greets you with a smile every time you walk in the door, a colleague who supports you when you’ve taken on too much, an employee who volunteers for extra projects, a boss who is patient when you have another “amazing” idea? To send a thank you note, we don’t have to find people who have solved world hunger or cleansed the Earth of all pollution (though, I’d send them a thank you note, too). We’re just looking for people who make your life a little better. If you’re responsible for managing employees, look for the traits you most want to encourage. Who are your most dependable, creative, considerate employees? Let’s reinforce the behaviors you most appreciate.
Those thank you notes I sent to others were like little boosters for my positivity.
Now, how do you express that appreciation?
As you may have gathered, not all thank you notes are created equal. To get the full benefits of writing thank you notes, you have to say more than, “Thanks for everything!” Because, really, that’s almost the same as writing, “Thanks for doing something that wasn’t memorable enough for me to remember or mention,” or its kissing cousin, “I know I should send a thank you but I don’t know what to say.”
A well-written thank you note should be timely, specific and heartfelt. And if you’re writing a thank you note based on information from someone else (a mutual friend, colleague or acquaintance), mention them in the note. It’s best if the thank you note is handwritten on a card and mailed, but if that stops you from writing or sending it, use your keyboard and send it via email.
The anatomy of a thank you is as follows:
- Start with the expression of gratitude. “Thank you for…” “I really appreciated it when…” “I am so grateful for…”
- Name the action or gift you appreciate and if appropriate, why that action is important. “Thank you for filling in on late notice.” “I really appreciated it when you took the time to review our annual report before we sent it to the printer. I can’t believe we misspelled our company name!” “I am so grateful for your can-do approach. This is how we push ourselves to reach new heights.”
- Include a closing statement restating your appreciation.
Here are some examples:
Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your dedication and thoughtfulness. Julie told me about how you helped her finish her project, even though it meant staying late Monday night. Your actions just reinforce the high opinion I already had of you. Thanks, again.
Thanks for volunteering at the health fair this weekend. I know there are a lot of other ways you could have spent your time. I thought you should know your willingness to step up time and again doesn’t go unnoticed. Keep up the good work. I appreciate all you do for our organization.
You get the idea. These don’t need to be lengthy or mushy, but they should be specific and impart genuine emotion. Also, it’s important to send them in a timely manner.