Many businesses invest a lot of time and money trying to attract new customers, but do not pay much attention to those they already have. Delighting your customers can become your competitive advantage. Competitors can copy your products, lower the price or offer similar benefits; but they will not be able to copy the experience your customers have when buying from you. Making customers feel delighted and pleasantly surprised is the responsibility of everyone, not just that of the salespeople or those at the forefront.
Every interaction that the actual or potential customer has with your brand, you, your employees and your website, builds positioning. Providing an amazing experience consistently requires planning and processes. From handwritten notes to loyalty benefits, a simple detail can make all the difference in a competitive and aggressive market.
Here are 30 ways to surprise and delight your customers:
- Give each new customer a special welcome kit. Surprise them by delivering a hard copy or digital document thanking them for choosing your company. The document may include contact information for key people in your company and instructions of what to do next.
- Send a handwritten note to a customer in appreciation for their business. In a world where the main means of communication is e-mail, receiving a handwritten note thanking your customer for a meeting, inviting them for an event or any form of recognition can go a long way. Pick one of your best customers, for example, those you have been serving for a year, thank them for working together.
- Highlight customers. Mention customers publicly and let them know how much you appreciate them and how important they are to you. For example, you can include a section in your newsletter which highlights “the customer of the month”, or you can publish an interview with your best customer.
- Send them a sample of a new product. If you are launching a new product, it may be a good idea for your best customers to try your product before other customers. It shows not only that you appreciate their opinion, but serves to get you valuable independent feedback.
- Invite them to coffee for their birthday . Take careful note of your customer birthdays and surprise them with an invitation for coffee; or if this is not possible, send a gift or a birthday card.
- Extend benefits to your strategic partners. Offer your strategic partners some interesting, useful information that they can share with their customers. For example, this can be in the form of a free ebook or “How to” video.
- Include a gift with every order. Add a small gift to each order made by a customer. It may be a product sample, a gift that represents your business oreven a fortune cookie.
- Help customers learn something new. If you have a shop, you can make regular events on current trends in fashion, jewellery or makeup. The more you can inspire your customers, the more they become loyal to you. You may also offer them free online training to help them take more advantage of your services which can strengthen your relationship.
- Offer free shipments or free delivery. Although this practice is popular for certain products, it is a great opportunity to surprise your customer by taking care of the little details.
- Learn the names of their children. Eventually during an informal conversation with a customer and as confidence grows, some customers may share some details about their families or even their pets. At times, take the opportunity to make specific references to that information. This will show that you took note and you really care.
- Respond quickly. Never delay an answer, even if you do not have a reply. Contact the customer and inform her that you acknowledge her query and that you are working on it. This is a must with customer complaints. The faster you respond the better.
- Organize a networking event. Encourage working groups and sharing best practices among your customers. It could be about sharing ideas and experiences that relate to their own community. Sponsor one or two meetings a year.
- Facilitate returns. Make it simple. When an issue arises and the customer must make a return or receive a refund, make the process incredibly simple. Remove all the hassle of coming all the way to your shop to make the return. Surprise the customer by arranging for someone to collect the item and make the refund.
- Celebrate the anniversary of your customer’s company. Every company has a foundation year. Surprise your customer by congratulating them for their fifth anniversary. Send them a card signed by employees who interact with customers.
- Re -Tweet their tweets. If you follow some of your customers on Twitter or any other social media platform, share their messages when they publish things that apply to their own community. The customer will receive notification and shows that you are paying attention.
- Invite them on a tour of your company. If applicable, invite them on a tour of your production plant, to know the “behind the scenes” process and show them the magic of producing your goods. You may also invite their family members to make the experience more memorable.
- Give priority. If necessary, set priorities with major customers, in terms of response time, attention and speed of delivery, among other things. This is based on the principle that not all customers are equal.
- Watch for customer media mentions. Set the name of the customer company in Google Alerts and be the first to congratulate him or her on being mentioned in the media. This kind of information could be useful for you expand your business relationship with the customer and can win you a contract.
- Give them an extra benefit. Send them a note providing an additional benefit, just as thanks for their loyalty and to continue their service. If you have a point of sale, give a little unexpected gift at checkout.
- Organize a party. Although you can literally have a party, think of other alternatives to engage with your customer, such as organizing a picnic, a barbecue or an early morning run, depending on their life style.
- Send cards – not just any card. You can customize and design your own cards that includes a phrase with some humour that brings a smile the customer.
- Celebrate their achievements. Make your customer feel like part of the family. Celebrate special events in their lives by sending a small gift. An event can be a special birthday (30, 40, 50 or 60 years), a promotion, or their child graduation.
- Reward customers and offer them the loyalty-red carpet treatment. Reward the customer for loyalty before it is too late. Do not wait until they start to shop around – “for new customers only”.
- Congratulate on unconventional dates. It is common for companies to send their customers Christmas or birthday cards. However, sending a card to celebrate women’s day, father’s day, labor’s day is out of the routine and generates greater remembrance.
- Offer upgrades surprise. The surprise element is very powerful. Thank a customer with an unexpected and unprompted service improvement. Think of the upgrade to business class airlines offer to their frequent flyers.
- Give a good read. If you work in the B2B segment, think of a business book that has had a major impact on your company and your customer’s business. If you have a fitness center, you can give away a book of healthy food; if you sell children products, you can give away children’s stories. Be sure to write a personalized note explaining the meaning of the book.
- Maintain regular contact. Even if your product or service is not selling frequently (they buy once a year), it is useful to periodically stay visible and be on your customers’ radar. This communication can be for commercial reasons (the customer may need an extra purchase), but can also build trust and demonstrate your interest.
- Refer your customer. If you are in a B2B segment, and you trust your customers’ products and services, making a referral to them will demonstrate how much you care about the success of their business. This may also make them refer business to you as a show of appreciation.
- Show that you value the feedback. Communicate with your customers and tell them what has been implemented, changed or adjusted as a result of their recommendations. This a great way to prove to your customer that you listen and you care about their needs and comfort.
- Meet the team. If possible, schedule a lunch at your customer’s office (paid by you), and invite all members of his team to share a good time. This will help you become more intimate with your customer from a different perspective, while learning how to improve the performance of joint projects.
Surprising customers does not have to be in monetary terms. It’s about being creative in taking every opportunity to give them a memorable experience that they will talk about to their colleagues, friends and family. You can greatly benefit from the word of mouth and the referrals that you need to grow your business, by simply delighting and surprising one customer at a time.