Make Your Customers Feel Special

Bureau Westby Jay Zaltzman

There are several tactics to providing a great experience, but they all come down to one thing: making the customer feel recognized as an individual, rather than “just another customer.” Here are four easy ways to help your customers feel appreciated.

Recognize by Name

When customers are addressed by name, it makes them feel good. This is true even in cases where they know they are receiving a personalized form letter. It’s nicer to receive an email that starts “Hi Jay” rather than one that says “Dear customer.” 

Now, let’s kick it up a level. Say you already send customers a monthly email telling them about your specials. Let’s say that monthly email isn’t personalized. How about sending additional emails to certain sub-groups, and those emails are personalized? That makes customers think they really are being recognized individually. For example, you might send an email to your best customers a week before the monthly email, giving them early access to certain promotions. Or see if you can divide customers into groups based on the items they buy, and send them personalized emails along the lines of “Hi Jay. Since I know you’re interested in x, I thought I’d let you know about y…”

Reward Them

Everybody loves when his or her loyalty is rewarded. My local Italian restaurant, Giuseppe’s Pizza in Palm Springs, just started a rewards program that is administered by FiveStars Loyalty. I get text messages telling me about points and discounts available to me. But even before they had that set up, when the manager, Kim, saw that my partner and I were having lunch there several times a week, she decided to give us our meal free of charge that day. Her gesture increased our loyalty, and it wasn’t just the $30 savings. It made us feel special and that got us coming back more often.

In most restaurants, giving complementary meals is something that can only be done by the manager or owner. But can you give your employees leeway to do something special for regular customers? For example, if a sales associate offers a regular customer a 10% or 20% discount near their birthday, it’s true that you might be losing some potential revenue. However, the discount will more than pay for itself in increased loyalty.

Give Something Extra

Palm Springs Mod Squad offers architecture and design tours. Customers are visitors to Palm Springs and the owner, Kurt, gives them a lot of information during the tour – too much for them to remember. So right after each tour, Kurt sends an email to each customer with a recap of the information, as well as recommendations for things to do and places to eat in Palm Springs. It doesn’t cost the company anything, but from the customer’s point of view, that email is a bonus, providing extra value beyond what they expected. That’s also a great time to ask customers to review the business on social media. 

Can you think of ways to give your customers something extra? It could be information, a small gift, a coupon for a future purchase, or perhaps a coupon at a related business. Palm Springs Mod Squad gives customers coupons for a free drink from the Saguaro Hotel, which is the tour’s ending point. The Saguaro is happy to provide the coupons, since they bring in new customers, and most order more than just the one drink.

Make Customers a Hero to Their Friends

In Zombie Loyalists, my favorite book about customer service, author Peter Shankman uses an oil change business as an example. Three months after a new customer comes in for an oil change, they send an email offering a 10% discount on the next oil change, and the email also tells them, “bring in a friend with you, and I’ll do the same for them.”

People love to look good in the eyes of their friends, especially if it’s something they know their friends will value. Can you think of a promotion you can offer your customers and their friends? Make sure to provide your customers with a link they can post on social media. You’ll make your customers happy and also gain new ones — a win-win.

The above are just some examples of ways to make customers feel special. I encourage you to brainstorm unique tactics that work for your business. Recognizing and rewarding your customers is well worth the investment.