As a new business building a brand or a more established business looking to create more sustained relationships, it’s important that certain practices be implemented that set your business apart from others. You want to establish habits that will regularly remind older customers why they chose you and prospective customers about why they should. Below I share three of my methods for developing and sustaining relationships.
1) Itemized List of Purchase. Always, ALWAYS enclose an invoice or packing slip with purchase orders. We have to assume that we are not the only businesses with whom our customers have made purchases. Providing an itemized list of goods sold sends a message that you’re properly tracking your product orders and saves the customer the trouble of having to dig through e-mails or log onto their account to find out what they ordered. Put simply: Paper trails speak to organization and consideration. Organization and consideration are important in the long-term viability of a business.
2) The Handwritten Note. Technological advancements, to a large degree, have sounded the death knoll for handwritten materials. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still drop a handwritten note of thanks to your customers. Instead, you should be more likely to buck the current trend. I’ve had customers as far away as Africa and the UK write to thank me for my thank-you notes. Those customers have become long-term customers. A personal note can go a long way, and it only takes a moment of your time. While you’re at it, don’t forget to drop a business card or postcard into your shipments. On those occasions where I have received a purchase and opened the box to find only the items I purchased, I felt a sense of letdown, a sense of not caring on the part of the business owner. Unless you’re in the business of selling cold, sterile products, add a bit of heat, please. Personalization. Personalization. Personalization.
3) The Extras. Since I began selling to the public back in 2009, I have made it a custom to drop an extra goodie into order shipments. My customers love seeing what little extras they’ll receive and are sometimes as excited to receive the extra product as they were to receive their orders. People love receiving gifts. Let me restate this: People love receiving gifts. Got it? Now, that doesn’t mean that if you’re a seamstress, you have to drop in an extra shirt, which may infringe on your bottom line, but you could sew up a bunch of mini-shirts and make them into keytags that advertise your business. The point is to be creative in your giving and be giving in your receiving. Not only will the extras brighten your customer’s day, but it offers you the opportunity to expose them to other items in your product line while keeping your business front and center.
There are many more methods that can be used, so do not consider this brief listing exhaustive. Take the time to create concepts of your own that are unique to your business, product or service. As small business owners, it is one of our greatest duties and investments to ensure that our customers feel like they’ve received the best experience possible. A satisfied customer is more likely to recommend you to their acquaintances. Word-of-mouth remains one of the best advertising mediums around, so do it right—or wrong—and you’ll see your customer relationships respond accordingly.