June 17, 2011

Want Long Term Customers? Start with Saying Thanks — the Right Way

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When you land a new customer, what is your ultimate goal? To satisfy, delight, exceed expectations, create the“wow factor”…?  Absolutely — but this is your ultimate goal:

Turn a new customer into a long term customer. Long term customers are the revenue gift that keeps on giving.

That little bit of business alchemy starts with saying thanks — the right way, using the right tool:

Email. Autoresponder-style thank you emails are one step above worthless.  (Do you open any emails that sniff of automatic generation?  Me neither.)  In fact sending a formulaic, template-based thank you email may be worse than sending nothing at all because it establishes an air of impersonality.  Impersonal is the kiss of death to a long term customer relationship.

Email thank yous work best if you don’t need a response, providing complete contact information, or passing on information useful to the customer.  For example:

Always customize the subject line to make sure a thank you email is  opened.  “Thanks from ACME Consulting” is like kryptonite to a potential Super Customer.  “Link to the great resource we discussed…” is personal and specific.  Save the thank you message for the body of the email.

Email tip:  Never try to generate additional sales with a thank you email. How sincere will, “Thanks… now buy some more stuff!” come across?  Thank you emails should always provide, never request.

Phone. Saying thanks by phone can be tricky:  On the one hand a phone call is personal, sincere, and furthers a connection; on the other hand a phone call can be an unwelcome and awkward interruption.

In most situations, a phone call is the least preferred way to say thanks.  Imagine this conversation:

You: “Hi John, this is Jeff… I just wanted to say thanks again for choosing us.”

Customer: “You’re welcome.”

You: “Um… so hey, like I said thanks again and have a great day!”

Awkward much?  Unless you like uncomfortable pauses, a thank you phone call must have a secondary purpose, like a needed response.  For example:

    • “Thanks… I’m calling
      to set up an appointment to     (provide the service you


    • “Thanks… I wanted to
      make sure everything went well     the other day…”


  • “Thanks… I wanted to
    follow up to get the     information that wasn’t available when we

Stay brief, to the point, and above all be sincere.  And don’t  try to sell after the sale!  (Say thanks the right way and you’ll live to sell another day.)

Phone tip: If you must say thanks by phone, consider calling after business hours and leaving a message. Your call is less likely to be seen as an interruption and avoids the possibility of any“just called to say thanks” awkwardness.

Handwritten note. Perfect when you want your message to be read, don’t need a response, and wish to convey sincerity.  Many people delete emails unseen; everyone opens “real”mail.  Just make sure you include a personal detail so the note doesn’t feel generic:

    • “Thanks… we especially
      look forward to working with     your new facility


    • “Thanks… I look
      forward to seeing you at the game     next week…”


  • “Thanks… I’ll be in
    (your city) again in three weeks     and hope to catch up with you in person

Handwritten note tip: Don’t reach too hard for a personal  detail. Including, “Say hi to (your wife) and your kids…” sounds incredibly insincere if you’ve never met the customer’s family.  “Personal” doesn’t have to mean non-work; “personal”can be specific to the customer’s business.

Use above as overall guidelines, and whenever possible tailor how you communicate your appreciation to the preferences of your customer.  Some may enjoy and even be reassured by consistent phone calls; others see a phone as the communication mode of last resort.

Creating a long term customer is based on knowing your customer, so start by knowing how they wish to communicate so you can say thank you the right way — their way.


Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about management as he worked his way up the printing business from forklift driver to manager of a 250-employee book plant. Everything else he knows, he has picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs he knows in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list. He’d tell you which ones, but then he’d have to kill you.

Visit his website at: www.blackbirdinc.com


Photo courtesy flickr user Orin Zebest, CC 2.0

Read more: http://www.bnet.com/blog/small-biz-advice/want-long-term-customers-start-with-saying-thanks-8212-the-right-way/2469#ixzz1PvgpaAJU

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