We’ve all heard the old adage that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one happy. But as a small business, the prospect of trying to compete with bigger players in the market to earn repeat loyal customers can seem daunting.
The good news is, you don’t have to break the bank to stand out and delight your customers. A modest investment in customer experience can have a significant impact on the bottom line. 73% of respondents in a PWC study cited that customer experience has an impact on their purchasing decisions.
Customer Experience Is Critical
In the age of social media, customer experience is more critical than ever. Consumers now have the power to widely share their experiences in a matter of a few clicks, which can have a measurable impact on your brand.
An estimated 97% of consumers rely on reviews to support their purchasing decisions, so you simply can’t afford to have unhappy customers who take to social media to air their grievances. By committing to customer experience, you’re helping breed loyal customers that can’t help but rave about your brand.
A quick Twitter search revealed countless examples of frustrated customers sharing their experiences. But there were also many positive ones, like this one from a happy customer sharing their praise for United Airlines.
This shows how delivering top-notch customer experience gives you an opportunity to stand out from the competition. Investing in positive customer experience is truly the best marketing strategy your business will ever have.
To help you find new ideas on how to deliver a memorable experience, here are five low-cost ways of delighting customers with some of our favorite examples.
#1. Wow Them With Onboarding
How you initially engage with new customers (known as onboarding) sets the tone for your new relationship. This is the ideal opportunity to quickly delight customers so they continue to do business with your company.
48% of consumers indicated their first purchase is made when a company can gain their loyalty. So now is the time to turn on the charm! This initial engagement doesn’t have to be over the top, but rather focus on making customers feel like they’ve made the right choice by choosing your company.
Depending on the type of business you run, how you can introduce a bit of a wow factor here will vary but look at the first 90 days after the initial purchase to identify opportunities to improve the experience.
Simple actions like sending a personalized email or a welcome video can go a long way towards creating a comfort-level with their purchase and your company overall. You want to clearly communicate that you’re here to help and that you’re committed to their success.
If you offer a product or service where there are common questions that arise during the first weeks or even months, you can provide specific resources to ensure those questions get answered. Finally, never underestimate the power of a phone call to answer any questions and check-in with how things are going.
A great example of this in practice comes from Shulamit Ber Levtov, owner of Compassionate Support for Stressful Times. As a clinic offering services to support those dealing with stress and trauma, Shulamit wanted to find a way to make new clients feel immediately at ease. Now, before their first appointment, new clients receive a personalized welcome video with an overview of what to expect. Thanks to this effort, clients have remarked how at ease they feel before the first appointment and that they feel taken care of.
#2. Mark the Milestones
Showing your customers you are paying attention to their lives — both professionally and personally — demonstrates that you value their business. Birthdays, important anniversaries or other life milestones can be acknowledged by a fun email, a phone call, a card or even a small gift.
Key dates that apply to your work together are also an opportunity to delight customers. Crystal Butler, the owner of Crystal Marketing Solutions, sends a gift to clients once they’ve been working together for a year. This small gift, which is a package of peanuts from her home state of Virginia, is a way to show their loyalty is appreciated.
If you offer services of any kind, the end of a project is an ideal time to say thanks. Remember, your goal is to earn repeat business, so wrapping things up on a positive note will help set up the possibility of working together in the future. While your customers may not remember everything that happened while they worked on the project, they will likely remember a thoughtful gift at the end!
Hailey Dale, the owner of Your Content Empire, always sends a gift at the end of every project. For her clients, who are typically female business owners, she sends a personalized gift box from BoxFox. This option allows her to easily customize the box to the preferences of her clients and not have to worry about shopping and shipping out a gift.
For a business that offers a product, you can send a small gift or card to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, new babies or key holidays throughout the year. Keep in mind that these gifts don’t have to be elaborate but simply thoughtful and well-timed.
If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than bag retailer HEX who sends a handwritten card with every single order they ship. The notes are personalized, and their customers love sharing them on Instagram and other social media platforms. Case in point is this post from Matt Monge professing his loyalty to the brand.
#3. Make It Personal
With most of our communication happening online, sending a handwritten note or card that includes a personalized message is sure to stand out. You want your customer to know that this card is specific to them, not just the same thing you send every customer.
This may seem like a lot of work, but with the right systems in place and pre-selecting a series of gifts or cards, you can have them on hand to send out as needed. You may want to consider using a service such as Postable that will allow you to select, schedule and send cards online as it’s a bit less work for you but every bit as impressive to your customers.
Recently, a friend of mine shared a story about being out shopping for a milestone birthday a few years ago. While at the Coach store, she mentioned to the sales associate that her birthday was coming up. About a week later, the customer received a handwritten note in the mail wishing her a happy birthday and also included a thank you gift to use towards her next purchase.
While my friend did use her gift card, it’s important that you avoid the temptation to only ever send coupons or discounts for your products or services. The goal is to show your appreciation for your customers and not always get them to buy more from you at the moment.
#4. Host a Special Customer Event
Nothing says “we appreciate you” quite like an invitation to an exclusive event. It doesn’t have to be overly elaborate or last for hours; it just needs to give your customers an opportunity to mingle with you and your staff.
The event itself can include:
- Trying new products or services.
- Shopping at a discounted rate.
- Getting a sneak peek of upcoming things happening with the business.
- An exclusive draw for a coveted prize.
Beauty retailer Sephora runs exclusive events for their Rouge level customers where invitees have access to sneak peek products, exclusive gifts and refreshments. These events are incredibly popular with their customers, and when invites are issued, they fill up quickly.
Also, you don’t have to have a product-based business to make special events work. San Diego-based digital marketing agency Wayward Kind recently organized an ice cream social for their clients. This casual event was completely in line with the culture of the company and offered a fun, unique way to connect with their clients and partners.
#5. Offer Coupons or Discount Codes
While you don’t want to be offering discounts all the time, a well-timed discount to loyal customers can help make them feel rewarded and keep them coming back to you. It can provide a way to remind them of your product or service and entice them to do more business with you.
These offers can be done via email or direct mail using a variety of formats from flyers to postcards offering exclusive coupons or discounts to drive repeat business.
Another option is to incentivize your best customers to share your product or service. You can offer discount codes or referral links that they can share with friends to help get your business in front of new audiences.
Shoe retailer Rothy’s actively encourages their customers to share their love of shoes with a friend by offering $20 off for their friend.
It’s Time to Wow Your Customers
The truth is, your customers want to be valued and appreciated. As a small business focusing on delighting your customers, you’ll be able to stand out in even the most competitive of markets.
The low-cost ways to wow your customers we’ve shared above will help build customer loyalty and ensure that your current customers stick around for many years to come.
Featured Image: Unsplash / Charisse Kenion
All screenshots taken by the author, June 2019.
Image 1: via BoxFox
Image 2: via Matt Monge on Instagram
Image 3: via Postable
Image 4: via Sephora
Image 5: via Wayward Kind on Instagram
Image 6: via Rothy’s