Rewarding Customers: 5 Ways to Say Thank You.
Because There’s Always Time to Show Your Appreciation.
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 parents’ 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. So branch out and think about how to simplify a loyalty program and dazzle your customers.
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.
Programs 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 edition 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!
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. Use these as jumping off points to create your own program, boost sales and keep your customers coming back!
- Thank You Notes
It’s a little obvious, and a little old fashioned, 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. Secret sales, sneak previews, special gifts, and exclusive collections can all help you gain customer loyalty. Many customers of natural and organic products love to know more about what they’re putting on their skin. Consider adding a live Google Hangout once a quarter talking about upcoming trends or a “Behind the Scenes” party in your store or salon. Generating content– newsletters, videos, social media posts also help your customers get to know you, the way you see your business, and, too, help keep them loyal to you.
- 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 creating loyalty, our best advice to you is to keep it simple. Doing one thing well is better than five things done poorly. You can always start small and expand your program. And ask your customers what they want — use surveys and social media to find out what will keep your customers coming back and referring new business your way.