When people buy from a small business they directly improve someone’s life. You and your employees know that, but do your customers realize the positive impact they make?
Whether you’re planning something special for a Customer Appreciation Month or just looking for a way to give back, there are simple ways to thank your customers and reward their loyalty.
Celebrate a Milestone
Are you coming up on a significant milestone, such as your 5- or 25-year business anniversary? That’s a great time to express your gratitude. You can do something small but tasteful like give away in-house gift certificates. Or go big – hold a party with music and food!
Remembering customer birthdays is a nice touch, too. I like getting offers for free car washes and discounts at my favorite restaurants the month of my birthday, and I make it a point to buy something extra when I stop by each business.
Teach Your Customers Something New
You’re probably familiar with pop-up cooking lessons at your local grocery store. A chef shows you how to prepare a delicious entrée quickly and easily. It looks and smells so darned good you grab the ingredients, which are conveniently within reach, along with the recipe.
Businesses with storefronts can do something similar by arranging for an expert to demonstrate something tied to your business or to give a mini lecture. Plan it for a Saturday to catch a bigger crowd.
Start a Loyalty Program
A customer loyalty program rewards customers after making a number of purchases. The goal of a loyalty program is to make one-off or occasional customers repeat customers. Computerized point of sale (POS) systems lend themselves well to loyalty programs – everything can be handled electronically and the customer just needs to provide a phone number.
Loyalty perks could include discounts or free items at your business, complimentary upgrades, free shipping and so on.
Hold or Sponsor an Event
In my area, Coffee with a Cop has become a big deal. A local coffee shop or restaurant hosts a Coffee with a Cop event that lasts an hour or two, enabling the community to get to know local law enforcement in a casual atmosphere with a feel-good vibe. People love it.
Singles Night is another idea. While on a business trip in the Midwest I came upon Singles Night at the grocery store near my hotel. Customers played games in the aisles, like putting with oranges and Guess the Vegetable while blindfolded. They talked and laughed, and everyone got a gift bag with samples and coupons. It seemed like a fun, no-hangover, swipe-free way to meet someone that you’re likely to run into again.
Offer VIP Return Policies
Consider offering special return policies to your regular customers or members of your loyalty program. For example, if your standard return policy is 30 days and the receipt is required, offer 60 days with or without a receipt to VIPs.
Respond to Social Media Comments
It’s one thing to have a social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like), but it’s equally important to respond to comments people leave about your business. That exchange is part of the reason for having social media accounts in the first place, right?
Customers want to know they’ve been heard and that you’re truly engaged, whether they’re gushing about the fabulous food or service or logging a complaint. Consider gifting a free coffee, appetizer or small surprise to customers who offer a five-star review.
The bottom line is to convey that you and your employees truly appreciate your customers’ business. Your company grew and thrived because of their patronage – let them know how important they’ve been to your success.