From handwritten notes to just-baked cookies, a simple gesture can go a long way toward shoring up customer loyalty in a competitive marketplace. Even just a quick phone call can do more to earn your customers’ long-term trust than any coupon or discount code—really.
To find out which methods have been most effective for my peers, I asked thirteen entrepreneurs to share one special way they get more word-of-mouth referrals and thumbs up. Their answers may surprise and delight you—and give you some great ideas to test drive in your own company:
1. Writing Notes
During our first holiday sales season, one way we inspired word-of-mouth support for LSTN Headphones was by writing handwritten notes to each customer who purchased a pair of headphones. It seems simple, but it made a huge difference!
– Bridget Hilton, LSTN Headphones
2. Setting the Bar High
Most companies make it a mission to have satisfied customers, but satisfied customers aren’t compelled to share their experiences. The factor that inspires word-of-mouth support is having happy customers. To achieve this, you must set the bar high by going above and beyond what your customers expect of you. Underpromise and overdeliver. Shock them with delight. Wow them with service.
– Charles Gaudet, Predictable Profits
3. Sending Cookies
At Speek, we use AppSumo religiously for great deals on the tools we use to run our business. One day, I got a box from Noah Kagan (the CEO of AppSumo) that contained some amazing cookies—completely out of the blue! It was a random, simple gesture that meant so much to me as a loyal customer. I thought it was absolutely brilliant of Noah to do this.
– Danny Boice, Speek
4. Providing Personal Service
PeoplePerHour has a community of more than 500,000 users, but one of the main delights for customers is getting support tickets answered by myself—the CEO and founder. Customers get delighted when they see the guy at the top take time for this and consider customer support important.
– Xenios Thrasyvoulou, PeoplePerHour
5. Getting to Know Your Customers
6. Valuing the Little Things
From time to time, we send gifts to our clients, such as their favorite tea or coffee. Another great thing all of our VAs do is really care about the client and ask about their kids and parents. It’s great because you really build a strong relationship with the client.
– Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME
7. Being a Customer Advocate
Real customer advocacy means looking out for their best interest, even if it means a short-term loss for you. Is a customer paying too much for your product? Ask him to downgrade. Did you screw up? Refund him proactively. Does he have a charge complaint? Resolve it in his favor until you can prove the opposite. Small gestures like this can build real fans for your brand.
– Pablo Villalba, 8fit
8. Saying Thank You
9. Retweeting Customers
We follow many of our clients as they come in the door, and then every once in a while, we retweet their tweets. They get a notification that we’ve done this, and it shows we are paying attention to them and that we’re on the same page. It establishes a bond that goes beyond client service. It shows that we respect what they are saying.
– Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
10. Treating Them to Birthday Coffee
We always make sure to ask our customers when their birthdays are. They soon forget we asked this until their birthday rolls around. When it does, they receive a birthday card from us with a gift card for coffee. Our customers are inspired and excited to see that we remembered, thanked and recognized them on their special day.
– Matt Shoup, MattShoup.com
11. Sending Them Postcards
As a token of gratitude for anyone who reads my blog or book and has the courage to reach out via email, I ask for their mailing addresses and send handwritten postcards. The postcards match my brand and have a fun quote or saying on the front, and readers seem to really appreciate the human touch from someone they previously assumed would be inaccessible. Plus, who doesn’t love snail mail?
– Jenny Blake, Jenny Blake
12. Remembering Important Dates
If a client shares an important milestone for the company, the date she opened the company or even a birthday, you should remember them! People like to know that you were listening when they shared information, and a surprise card, cake or gift on that milestone will let clients know you are on their team.
– Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding
13. Checking In
It’s nice for clients to know you were thinking of them even when you didn’t have something on the calendar. With coaching clients, I try to reach out and check in with them or send articles I thought they might like in-between scheduled sessions.
– Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®