As we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, we may want to pause and reflect on how important it is to show gratitude and appreciation to our customers.
The act of thanking our customers is not only courteous, but it has also proven to be an effective method to strengthen customer relations and retain our customer base.
Perhaps we are living in a society that is lacking in civility and common courtesy. In this day and age, extending more courtesy and giving the extra effort to express gratitude can set you apart from some of your competition. In the business world, training our employees to thank customers properly can become a competitive advantage for your business.
So how can a small business owner show appreciation and gratitude without spending a lot of money? Here are a few cost-effective measures that can help you extend business gratitude.
• By far, the most effective means of thanking a customer can be easy and effortless. A warm personal, hand-written note of thanks can make a big difference in keeping your customers. The hand-written note seems to reign superior to the typed or pre-fabricated notes, or even the well-thought-out email.
Your customer will undoubtedly feel special since you took the time to think about and hand-write a note.
• Make sure that your thank-you note is sincere and strictly in gratitude; a thank-you note should not be a vehicle to ask for something else. Timing is an important element. Thank-you notes should be sent 48 hours to a week after the transaction or event.
• Thank customers who complain or speak up to let you know your service is unsatisfactory. The feedback that they provide is invaluable information for improving your business.
• Passing along compliments and congratulations is another effective means of showing your business gratitude. You may have not directly benefited when you see that one of your customers has just received local publicity for a job well done, but recognizing them shows you care.
• Too often, we forget to show appreciation to our employees. Your staff is your biggest asset and most likely the front line to the majority of your customers.
• Your vendors and stakeholders are an extension of your business family and should also not be overlooked when showing business gratitude. By consistently and sincerely showing appreciation to your employees you will be able to build teamwork and loyalty. Appreciated employees tend to be much more productive, which, in the end, leads to greater customer satisfaction.
Certainly, Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to show our appreciation to all our customers, employees, vendors, bosses and friends that are important to our success. Never underestimate the power of saying ‘thank you’ at any time of the year. A little gratitude can go along way.
Beth Pratt is the director of career technical education programs at Napa Valley College. Reach her at 253-3113.