Don’t just tell customers you appreciate their business—show them!
According to one statistic I found, two-thirds of all Disney guests are repeat guests. Disney does an excellent job at two relevant things; they attract the right type of customer and they focus on the details to bring guests back over and over again. As a repeat customer myself (multiple trips to Disney World, Disneyland and several Disney cruises), I can personally attest that their focus on keeping customers who count works.
Unfortunately, many business owners don’t think or act like Disney. They spend too much time and focus getting and counting NEW customers and not investing in the people who have already done business with them. In his Disney-focused book Inside the Magic Kingdom author Tom Connellan writes, “It’s more important to acquire customers who count, than it is to count the customers you acquire.”
This is one of the first tenets of how we market our retail mattress stores. Knowing your “who” and then using very specific strategies to help them become better informed about what it is you do. Our belief is that if you help a lead or prospect first and offer unique reasons why you’re the go-to choice to do business with, over time, these customers buy more, refer more and become repeat customers. Focusing on attracting the right who for your business will make you a Disney-like business.
After getting the right types of customers, whom you are best able to serve, the next logical strategy is to show them how much you appreciate them and make them customers for life, and since you are focused on profit automation, you want to create the appreciation tools, systems and automation to make sure your various appreciation efforts happen all the time.
These appreciation efforts are not only shown towards people who give you money upon a sales transaction. Smart business owners show appreciation of a person’s time, concerns and questions, where they are in the buying process, privacy, referrals, etc. and these efforts should never be ad-hoc or sporadic. Make the commitment to do it right.
I thought it would be helpful to you, as you consider your own appreciation efforts, to highlight a few of the effective ways we show appreciation, starting with a first point of contact all the way to becoming a raving fan.
Helpful, Educational Information First: We’re known for our educational guides to help consumers make the right buying choices. By making these guides available to a shopper before they ever visit the store, we’re showing an appreciation for their time, money and intellect by providing helpful, unbiased information. All the details of what to expect during a first visit are provided. This give-before-sell mentality has worked well for us. You can get a copy of our mattress buying guides by visiting our website, GardnersMattressAndMore.com.
Personalized Offers to Get the First Visit: We use personalized automated emails and direct mail to stay in contact with leads (people who have yet to visit) with offers to get them to take action and visit one of our stores. Knowing the consumer has plenty of choices when it comes to buying a new mattress, our use of personalized and relevant offers is important and unique.
There are other small touches that make big impacts with your customers.
Customer Lounge: Buying the right mattress can take time, so we provide a relaxing customer lounge, complete with complimentary snacks, beverages and comfy seating. A lot of stores use platitudes like “customers are our friends and family.” Our lounge was designed to make shoppers feel as though they’re truly a guest in our home; where they feel comfortable and able to have a conversation with a friend. Often this is where we conduct our in-depth prospect assessment, since it offers a relaxing, non-threatening environment.
Prospect Assessment: Go into any mattress store and see how the typical retailer sells—it’s not pretty. At our stores, no matter who’s working, you’ll find the same systematic approach to helping a prospect, including an in-depth prospect assessment which asks several specialized questions designed to provide the best possible solution to their sleeping needs. In the event a prospect doesn’t purchase on their first visit, this information is used in personalized automated follow-up campaigns.
Dream Room: We think we’ve revolutionized the way people buy mattresses by developing our Dream Room. Think high-end, private hotel room right in the store, which allows shoppers to try out the specific mattress they’re considering, for up to four hours, before buying.
Automated Prospect Thank You Messages: Within 24 hours of every prospect’s visit to Gardner’s, a thank-you voice broadcast and personalized thank-you card is sent—automatically! When was the last time you visited a business, did not buy, but still got a thank-you-for-visiting-us voicemail and card?
Automated Personal Phone Calls: Making good ole live phone calls to follow-up with prospects is unique these days and it’s a sure way to get more prospects to become customers. These calls are used to ask for feedback, answer any other questions and move the prospect forward to becoming a customer.
Personalized Come-Back Offers: Using the information collected via the prospect assessment, we have set up automated follow-up marketing complete with specific and personalized offers on the products the prospect was interested in during their visit. This attention to a prospect’s personal interests and needs differentiates their business.
You can also show your customer some much-needed appreciation after the sale.
White Glove Delivery: Of course, not every business owner has to visit a customer’s home, but if you think outside the box, there are probably similar things you can do in your business. In the case of delivering a new mattress, we show appreciation by making sure all our delivery staff looks presentable and wears those funny-looking booties to protect the home’s flooring. They even offer to vacuum before installing the new bedding.
Gift Bag on Delivery: Before the delivery team leaves, they leave a gift bag full of goodies, including some food items, useful gifts and a testimonial form. Being astute direct-response marketers, we always ask for some sort of response, even through a gift bag. So, while the main intent is to show gratitude and appreciation, we’re also looking to benefit from the law of reciprocity (the customer responds to our positive action with their own positive action—offering a written testimonial).
This simple little gift bag strategy is appreciated by all and has generated hundreds of hand-written testimonials; enough to fill several three-ring binders and wallpaper an approximate 200 square-foot-wall of our lounge with testimonials.
Automated Customer Thank You Messages: Similar to the prospect thank-you messages, but personalized to a paying customer, these automated thank-you messages go a long way to show appreciation.
Customer-Only Special Offers: Have you noticed how many businesses offer their best deals, not to their best customers, but while trying to obtain NEW customers?
Have you called your cable or cellular service company lately?
Try this little experiment. Call one of them and threaten to quit and go to the competition. Chances are a much better offering will be made to keep you from leaving.
I am not sure about you, but it really bugs me that I, a long-term customer of Comcast, have to remember to check in with them each year just to make sure I’m not over-paying on my monthly service. Comcast will not automatically enroll me in the best money-saving package. I have to seek this out.
Do what we and other smart business owners do and offer customer-only offers (once a month is a good strategy). Your customers will appreciate them and your sales will increase. If you want to get a little extra juice out of these offers, instruct your customers to forward them to a family member or close friend, in case they cannot use the specific offer. The key to doing this is to stress these are V.I.P. offers and only friends and family can take advantage of them if the customer can’t use them.
Customer Appreciation Events: This is a special way to show your appreciation to customers. Hosting live events, workshops or even parties on a regular basis can show appreciation to your best customers. These can be simple affairs or something quite extravagant where food, drinks and gifts flow. If you can get on a schedule, like an annual event, these customer-appreciation affairs can become much anticipated, must-attended events.
Customer Wall of Fame: We created a special area in the main store for customer photos. With the customer’s permission, we frame the photo and add it to the Wall of Fame.
Review & Referral Rewards: Fans are customers who review and/or refer. This is a big part of our present success recipe. Social proof is everything and you need as many systems working automatically as possible to solicit and gather referrals and reviews. To show appreciation, we offer a valuable choice of gift cards to fans who refer others. And for those who review we enter them into a monthly contest to win a prize ranging from gift cards to electronics. Keep in mind that the Federal Trade Commission is always watching, in some capacity, so if you ever explicitly pay for a review it must be disclosed as a paid endorsement.
I’ve shown you several appreciation strategies you can similarly use in your own business, whether you’re a designer, furniture store, mattress store or other type of specialty store. The only thing that matters is you grasp the power of appreciation and figure out ways to use it. Look at your own business for specific appreciation opportunities and create the necessary tools, systems and automation to make them happen consistently.
The big idea to leave you with is to remember to show appreciation for the various audiences in your business (including staff, which I did not discuss).
To paraphrase a well-known quote, “If you don’t appreciate your customers, some other business will.”