Rewarding Customers: 5 Ways to Say Thank You.
Because There’s Always Time to Show Your Appreciation.
by Glori Romani, Customer Care Supervisor
Let’s face it, we all like to be treated to a little extra attention; we all want to be valued and appreciated whether we’re spending $10, $100 or $1000 or more. Offering a rewards or loyalty program not only gives your customers a jolt of appreciation, it can fulfill your brand promise and increase your revenue and customer lifetime values.
In an April 2014 Entrepreneur article, authors Jed Williams and John Swanciger tell us:
The philosophy behind a customer loyalty program is simple: Repeat customers get rewarded, and businesses increase sales. It’s a basic but powerful strategy.
Reward and Loyalty programs aren’t new. From S&H Green Stamps– something from my parent’s generation to Amazon Prime, letting customers know you value their business is something smart companies have been doing for generations. But managing a rewards and loyalty program in today’s digital age can be cumbersome and costly.
As you think about how to implement your program, you’ll want to consider not just the marketing components, but the operations, too. Rewarding your customers doesn’t have to include structured points program. It can be as simple as a hand-written thank you card, a ‘punch card’ for buy 10 get one free, or as complex as an integrated point-of-sale loyalty program.
Program That Support Your Customers’ Values
Loyalty programs were a recent Hubspot Blog topic. Their advice about making sure your customer loyalty program meets your customers’ values is, we think, spot on:
Understanding your customer means understanding their values and sense of worth. And depending on your industry, your customers may find more value in non-monetary or discounted rewards. Every company can offer promotional coupons and discount codes, but businesses that can provide value to the customer in ways other than dollars and cents have an opportunity to connect with their audience in a powerful way.
This advice speaks to knowing your customers and to knowing your brand values. Are you a socially responsible brand? If so you might want to consider virtual gifts like a points program your customers can use to redeem for merchandise. Airlines do this well, as does beauty retailer, Aveda. If your brand values support a particular cause, consider a donation program that gives a dollar amount to a charity for every sale. Target is great at this, but so are local stores and boutique eCommerce retailers. If you’re all about innovation in products and packaging, think of something unique and trendy to give your customers. Perhaps a limited addition signature essential oil blend, a travel size of your latest skin care lineup or even a great makeup brush. So long as it’s authentic to your brand, your customers will be excited you’ve given them something special.
Rewarding Your Customer: 5 Ways To Say Thanks!
At Essential, we think about earning customer loyalty as a multi-strategy approach. We think about your entire experience with us and create loyalty opportunities at every step of a customer journey. For instance, we give account credits for winning Facebook contests as a way to engage our customers in our social media conversations. We create videos (hyperlink) and blog posts (hyperlink) to help you grow and manage your business. We invest in our customer service reps, so you get knowledgeable people on the other end of the phone. We also offer customer-only sales, and from time to time we add a little something extra in each order– like the fortune cookies we shipped for Chinese New Year and the bath soaks coming your way starting next week.
Here are five ideas that can work equally well for face-to-face sales in a retail store, spa, salon or festival setting or through an e-commerce experience. They can stand-alone, be combined with each other or with a traditional points program.
- Thank You Notes
It’s a little obvious, and a little old fashion, but Thank You notes are worth the effort. My mother’s generation was strict about writing thank you notes. In today’s digital world, a hand-written thank you note tucked in a bag or box, or sent by mail stands out. It’s a pretty simple way to tell someone their business is appreciated.
- Exclusive Experiences
Offer your best customers unique products or services they can get by redeeming points or reaching sales levels. Nordstrom does this with Nordstrom Notes program offering trunk shows, shopping extravaganzas and personal consulting. You might want to offer a live Google Hangout once a quarter talking about upcoming trends or a “Behind the Scenes” party in your store or salon.
- Seasonal Products
Create seasonal offerings in travel sizes. Set a low introductory price for new customers as a thank you if they add it to their first order. Your existing customers might get a variation of this seasonal offering as a gift purchase. This encourages both new and existing customers to complete a transaction rather than abandon their cart or walk out your spa empty handed.
- Sponsor a Community Project
My hair salon picks one local nonprofit a month and creates a community challenge to support that chosen nonprofit. They send an email to their customers, they announce it in their store with Point of Sale materials, and they have a drop-off section for collecting customer-donated goods or money. They host a get-to-know party every month, inviting their customers to meet each other, try and buy products, and get to know the community organization. A percentage of all products bought that night go to the nonprofit, as well as a percentage of product sales all month. Customers nominate nonprofits, too.
- Customer Advisory Panel
There are a lot of ways this can take shape from informal phone calls to get input on new products and services or a structured program with meetings and agendas. Letting your customers help shape your business is the best way to be sure you’re meeting their needs and to let customers know you value their opinion.
As you think about your creating loyalty, our best advice to you is to keep it simple. Doing one thing well is better than five things done poorly.
Let us know what you do to reward your customers.