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Thanks, Merci, Gracias, Danke, Grazie, Agradecimentos

Giving thanks isn’t just for the fourth Thursday in November. April is International Customer Loyalty Month, a great time to show your customers that you appreciate their patronage. This is especially true for small businesses, which are particularly reliant on consistent customer support. Whichever way you go with this, the key is to make your customers feel as though they are more than mere customers. Make them feel special as people and they will be back time and again. Here are five easy ways to show your customers that you value their repeat business:

Thank-you Cards

A recent national consumer survey by Hallmark Business Expressions showed that 66% of respondents said that they’d be more likely to do more business with a company after receiving a thank-you card for making a purchase or referral. What’s more, 73% of those surveyed said that if they received a thank-you card from a business, they’d appreciate the gesture and feel like the company genuinely cared about them.

Happy Birthdays

Show your clients that you remember their special days by offering them discounted or free services during their birthday months. This doesn’t have to break your bank: A free dessert at a restaurant or a complimentary eyebrow wax at a salon or will make your customer feel special and keep them coming back year-round.

Preferred Client Appreciation

Keep a database of your client transactions and you’ll be able to tell which ones have given you the most support over the years. You can then reward these most loyal customers in the form of gift baskets, free services or products, special deals for these customers only and so on. The key is to let them know you appreciate them and that what you are doing in return is something special just for them.

VIP Clubs/Cards

As a business owner, you should provide your customers with an incentive to keep coming back. A business card that tracks their services or purchases with stamps or punches (e.g. buy six sandwiches and the seventh is free) will ensure they return to your business before heading to your competition. With a VIP club card, your customers could receive a discount on products and services, perhaps 5% each time they do business with you or once they have accumulated enough purchases. What’s more, membership in this club could carry an annual fee, thus paying for itself while providing good will to your customers.

Value Their Time

There is nothing that grates on customers more than tardiness or a service that takes longer than they were told it would. Giving accurate service times to clients will result in them being satisfied or even pleasantly surprised if you exceed their expectations. By taking a percentage off the cost if you’re late, or by throwing in free extras, you will show your customers that you are honest, reasonable and worth doing business with again.

There is more, but these ideas should get you going. If you do nothing else, find a way to make your customers feel special.  If they are appreciated as people, as much or more than they are appreciated as patrons, then repeat business and growth will naturally develop.