It’s Valentine’s Day; and, like many, you likely have L-O-V-E on the mind. But, whether it’s your husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend or secretly admired, they aren’t the only ones expecting recognition of their affections and loyalties towards you. So, too, are your customers! But, your customers need to know you love them more than one day a year. Here are five ways you can show your customers love throughout the year:
Benefits can come in many forms. Traditionally, companies think of benefits as being associated with loyalty programs. In this sense, they may be as simple as reward points tied to a card you hole-punch or scan at the register. Or, it could include member-exclusive sales or discounts. These benefits are a good way of showing your customers appreciation. However, because loyalty programs have now become so common, it’s a minimal effort that may or may not inspire the higher level of acknowledgment or reciprocation you are hoping for from your customers.
So, what about access? This is a great option when you want to offer your customers something sweet at virtually a no- to low-cost. Your customers will love feeling like they have the inside scoop. Offer them special access such as first-to-know previews, sneak peeks and/or behind-the-scenes of your new products, solutions or services; latest promotion; premiere video; advertisement; etc. By showing what’s behind the curtain, your customer will not only feel loved; but, they will want to tell others about their exciting experience. The cherry on top is this word-of-mouth and social exposure.
When’s the last time you asked your customers what they thought? No, I’m not just talking about a satisfaction survey you send once a year and incentivize with some sort of giveaway. That’s an operation of general best practices; but, not necessarily something customers love.
What I’m talking about is including your customers in your planning and process. To enact this customer love initiative, it’s vital that you understand and believe that your customers are your greatest brand ambassadors and advocates. Moreover, as a more established company, they are also very likely a major part of what makes your brand who it is today. So, with that assumption, who better to help you with R&D than your customers?
Think of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign that ran successfully for many years, inviting customers to create their ad for the Super Bowl. Not only did they get free creative; but, they showed their customers love in a big way – to the price of millions of dollars in Super Bowl ads. And, their customers were engaged and active.
You don’t have to buy a Super Bowl ad or be a big brand to include your customers in this way. Just think of how you can ask for your customers’ input in bigger ways. Maybe it’s the design of your new packaging or naming of a new product or service. Or, maybe you’re expanding your menu and you invite your top 10 loyal customers into your restaurant for an exclusive tasting. That’s a win-win opportunity…access and inclusion!
Looking for something simpler and more immediate? Try social shout-outs. Customers – especially the millennial ones – love to feel special. Ask your customers to share their experience, preference, look, etc. as it relates to your company on their social media channels. When they tag your company, you can repost or retweet their photo or message with a shout-out. If it’s clothes you sell, let them know you love their style. If it’s a service you provide, let them know you appreciate them sharing their experience. And, so on. You could even think of creative ways to inspire your customers to create ongoing user-generated content. Take, for example, Sharpie with their long-standing “Write Out Loud” campaign.
#5: Random Acts.
As I mentioned, customers have become accustomed to the usual loyalty program gimmicks. But, there’s one customer love initiative that they could never get used to and that’s random acts of kindness. As a company, you can create the criteria that is most fitting for you in order to identify your most active and enthusiastic customers. From there, you can send these customers care packages or special on-brand treats to simply say, “Thank You.” Everybody loves a surprise package in the mail. For years, brands have sent these packages to mom bloggers or the media. But, what about your most loyal customers? With the rise of social media and citizen journalism, your customers are more important and influential than ever before. Reach out and let them know you notice and value their commitment to you.
Sure, it’s Valentine’s Day and love should be celebrated. But, if you’ve learned nothing else from this article, you know that showing your customers love is never a one-time project. It’s a constant cycle and commitment to prioritizing your customers as active partners in the success and continued growth of your business. Try at least one of these customer love initiatives and measure the impact. By inspiring your customers to be engaged, you will find that love is returned to you tenfold when they share their affections for your brand and new customers may come your way!