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Giving Thanks: 15 Customer Appreciation Ideas
Celebrating loyalty is a 365-day opportunity
By Deborah Curson-Vieira
During the holiday season, we tend to think about the things for which we are thankful. If you are like most laboratories, you will be sending out cards and perhaps a gift to your customers to thank them for another year of loyalty. Although the end-of-year cards are important and are appreciated, the bigger question is: What are you doing the other 11 months of the year to let your customers know you are grateful for them?
Writer William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Expressing gratitude is not about giving away mass-produced gifts that bear your company’s logo, but rather something that singles out and makes your customers feel appreciated. Every attempt at saying thanks must be relevant, personalized, and sincere.
When showing your appreciation for your customers, it is not the price tag that matters; the thought and care have the greatest impact. Here are 15 ways to show your customers that you are thankful for them:
1. Phone call: Often when we call practices it is to deliver bad news: We need a new impression or we need more time on a case. Instead of calling to ask for a new impression, pick up the phone and just say, "Thank you for your business.”
2. Thank you note: In a world of junk mail and bills, nothing cuts through the clutter like a thank you note. Send a handwritten note describing the impact their loyalty has had on your business. Make it personal and specific to your experience with them.
3. Social media shout out: If your offices are social media savvy, send them a shout-out through Facebook or Twitter. If they visited the laboratory, post a picture on your page. Or, thank them for liking your page or for liking a post. Try sharing one of their posts or retweeting them. Just make sure you tag the office in your response.
4. Spend time with them: Meet with your dentist and their teams without selling them anything. Bring in breakfast or an afternoon snack and use the time to learn more about them and their business.
5. Be genuine: When you speak with your customers, show a real interest in them and their office. Remember names, create relationships, and have genuine conversations.
6. Recognize them: With their permission, highlight an office of the month or the quarter. Post it on your social media pages or include their picture and information in your newsletter.
7. Treat the office: Almost everyone likes an afternoon treat. Go beyond the standard cookies or cupcakes and get creative; ice cream bars in the summer, hot cocoa with toppings in the winter, or fresh fruit after the holiday rush of sweets.
8. Gift cards: From a $5 Starbucks gift card to a $100 card to a local restaurant, gift cards can be an easy and effective way to show your appreciation.
9. Education: Offer free or low-cost CE to your best customers. Our dental laboratory offers a customer appreciation lecture each year. We bring in our top customers for a full day of continuing education at no charge.
10. Celebrate milestones: It is as simple as sending a card or flowers. Celebrate milestones such as birthdays, births, practice anniversaries, new practices, and retirements with your customers.
11. Product samples and patient education materials: Give your offices information they can share with patients on your products and materials. Brochures, videos, and presentations can help them educate their patients and perhaps increase case acceptance.
12. Make it personal: When you start building relationships with your offices, you begin to learn their likes, dislikes, and passions. Make sure whatever you do to say thank you mirrors those likes and passions. For example, one of our dentists has a chicken coop behind his office and loves his birds. His account manager brings him chicken feed on occasion and the practitioner loves it.
13. Charitable donations: If your client is doing a dental mission trip, find out what he or she needs for the trip. You may be able to help with toothbrushes or oral hygiene kits. Or, if an office does a day of free dentistry, offer to sponsor lunch for the team or refreshments for the patients.
14. Celebrate unique holidays and celebrations: Make ordinary days into a celebration. Visit websites such as nationaldaycalendar.com to find days like National Fresh Breath Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, and National Rubber Ducky Day. Companies such as Oriental Trading are a great resource for finding small, inexpensive giveaways to go with your theme.
15. Co-author a case study: If your client sends in an interesting case, offer to document the in-house fabrication processes of the restoration and ask to co-author a case study. There is no bigger compliment than to recognize a client’s work.
There are an infinite number of ways to show appreciation for your customers. These 15 ideas are just the tip of the iceberg.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you are saying “thank you” every day and not just at end of the year.
Deborah Curson-Vieira is the marketing and communications manager for Dental Prosthetic Services in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.