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We all know the customer is always right, but do your customers know that you believe it? One of the best ways to build up a loyal customer following is to create an atmosphere of great customer service in which customers know how glad you are to help serve them. This article introduces five ways to say “thank you” to your customers and build brand loyalty among a larger demographic.

Give a Token Gift

The most important thing to remember when expressing gratitude that a customer chose your business over others are those two golden words, “thank you.” But sometimes, just saying “thank you” can get lost in the rest of the transaction. Your customers are busy and may not take your words of thanks as anything more than simple politeness. So, a good way to help them remember your words of appreciation is to accompany them with a token gift. Candies are sweet, but souvenir pens with your business logo on them and the words “thanks for your business” are more practical. Other good gifts are small bottles of water, USB flash drives for larger purchases or loyal customers, and other business swag.

Remember Their Anniversaries

Customer anniversaries are easy to track if you have a business that sends invoices. Keep a calendar listing of the dates your customers were sent their first invoices, then send discount coupons or simple, handwritten thank-you notes to each one on their yearly anniversaries. For long-term customers, consider larger gifts when they hit the big numbers — five- and 10-year anniversaries should surely be rewarded with a hearty “thank you.”

Hold a Customer Appreciation Day

You’re probably more familiar with employee appreciation days than customer appreciation days, but the idea is the same. For both, the company suspends normal business for a day (or just part of a day, if you’re very busy) and offers a bit of fun for the guests of honor. Invite customers to come to your appreciation day with their friends or family, and provide entertainment, drinks and catered food. This is a good time to acknowledge your most loyal customers with door prizes or other gifts as well. The best part about a customer appreciation day is that it thanks your existing customers while also creating a way to get potential customers in the door. Offer extra raffle tickets to customers who bring a friend or colleague. This may also be a good chance to partner with a local nonprofit or school for a fundraiser, and give thanks to the good work they do in the community.

Develop Outstanding Customer Service

Go beyond just saying “thank you” by showing your gratitude and appreciation of customers when they receive excellent service from your staff. The culture of outstanding customer service has to start from the top down. When your staff sees the company owner and managers giving priority to good service, they will take your lead. Be clear in your training sessions and staff feedback meetings about the level of service you expect your employees to offer customers, and provide measurable goals for them to achieve this level if they are not already doing so. If you are worried that the level of service your customers are getting is below standards, but you’re not sure why your employees aren’t providing good service, make it a priority to have a staff brainstorming session and together, create a list of actionable goals. If you have a large staff, ask senior staff members to come up with motivational ideas and mentor newer employees.

Add Personal Touches

So many transactions today are automated and performed by your computer or another machine; taking the time to add a human’s touch to your products, services or business communication can do a lot to show your customers that you care. A simple handwritten note at the bottom of an invoice, a holiday card or a phone call now and then to check in will be noted and appreciated.

About the Author: Gary Austin is The Pen Guy. He loves hearing about new ways that businesses have been able to use their custom pens to build brand loyalty. Read more about him and his products at http://www.thepenguy.com.

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