How do you make your customers feel important? Many will answer that they “do a good job” or “give them more than they pay for” or “keep their promises.” Those are all good ideas, of course. But the truth is that everybody should be doing at least those things. Why should any customer come back to you if you don’t? These are table stakes, and most of your competition is doing the same (to varying degrees). This column has dealt with differentiation a lot over the past couple of years, and rather than repeat myself, I thought I would simply illustrate an easy way to set yourself apart: write a few thank you notes.
Thank you notes make customers feel important. They reassure customers that you take a personal interest in their satisfaction. When written with genuine gratefulness, a thank you note creates a powerful bond that outlasts the faster-is-better communication of modern times.
Start by sending a quick note to your best customers. Don’t make the job any harder than it needs to be. Hand-written notes are fine (in fact, I prefer them when they are practical – try to avoid email if you can). Don’t write War and Peace. Just put a few simple thoughts down on a simple card (which you can buy in bulk). You don’t need to get all mushy – just tell your customers that you appreciate their business and you look forward to helping them succeed.
Set aside a certain time on a certain day of the week (Friday afternoons are good) to write these notes. Just write a couple at a time. Don’t send a customer too many (two or three times a year is plenty) and don’t wait to mail them (or you may lose track of them). To make things easy, start with business-related notes (“The new Maxwell building came out fantastic – nice job!”) and soon you’ll be able to expand your note topics. Keep track of birthdays. Watch out for customers who have had something interesting happen in their lives – they ran a marathon, their kid got his first deer – it means a lot that you are thinking of them, and I guarantee that a note will make a huge, positive impression.
I’ve done this myself for years and I like to think that it has helped to reinforce some of my best relationships – both in business and otherwise. Notes make your customers feel important, and they’re easier to write than you might think. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.