A Lesson in Retaining Customers

2009 July 2

I just returned from four days at the beach with my family and relatives. Even though I unplugged (no wireless in the condo), I’m always on the look out for smart business practice and interesting stories to share here. I was pleasantly surprised with the owner of our privately owned condo so I want to share a story in customer satisfaction.

We entered our condo starry-eyed. Oohing and aaahing our way in, I noticed on the kitchen table (overlooking the ocean waves in our front yard), an envelope that said “The Boyle Family,” and a box wrapped in tissue paper.

With curiosity I opened the card. Inside was a hand-written letter from the owners of the condo, welcoming us and genuinely wishing us a great stay. I already was touched. Then I opened the gift and there was a small photo album, with a beach theme on the cover. The letter explained the photo album was for all the pictures we took on our trip.

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This is a simple gift and was very personal. Not only was the condo clean and beautiful, but the owners also greeted us when we first arrived and asked if we had any questions. The best part to me, was this gift and hand-written letter. I always say, it’s the little things that mean the most.

This started our trip on a good note and we ended up talking about the gift throughout the trip. We were impressed. Talk about incentive to come back next year.

What other examples of personalized customer service and attention have you experienced? What tactics are useful in retaining customers?

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  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ ryanstephens

    I love this. I wish more companies realized just how easy it is. One of my favorites was our local Ford dealership where I'm from. A family of four broke down on their way to vacation in front of the Ford shop. They hadn't purchased their Ford vehicle there, but without questioning, the dealership gave the family a car off the lot to drive while they fixed their other car. Wonder how many people they told that story to?

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Ryan What a great story. I also like the Ford story because it is kind and thoughtful. We love stories of humanity and giving back. It always bodes well with customers. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.owlsparks.com/ Carlos Miceli

    The reason why the little things are the ones that make the difference, is because most of the big things are already done! That was a nice gesture, and a reminder on where we should focus our efforts.

    The way to retain customers nowadays, is consider them as human beings, with emotions and little time available. Respecting that will work wonders.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Carlos I really like how you say “consider them as human beings, with emotions and little time available.” It's really the core of who we are and as companies/brands understand that, a real connection exists between the two. You're right that it's hard to do something different or hasn't been done before. Very important to remember!

  • http://www.opheliaswebb.com opheliaswebb

    “Doing good” is so over-used by companies now a days that it is hard sometimes to trust their sincerity. For example, they could have these albums made in bulk with a little pre-printed 3×5 cards with little personalization. You would have thought, “That's nice” but not felt like there was a lot of effort put in. The handwritten and personalized note pushes it over the top and you KNOW that they took time to think about your family especially.

    With the secrets of computer programming and automation and various other tech revolutions, it is easy for companies to mass market their “touches” to their customers. I tell my agents this a lot. Anyone can call an 800 number or file a claim online, but what people REALLY appreciate is someone who will take the time to recognize them as individual clients who are important rather than money to be added to a ledger.

    Course another important piece of this is that the company/person actually has to believe that, too.

  • http://simonandcole.com/ Simon

    I'd say when waiters and waitresses act like real people instead of robots I tend to go back to the restaurant. I've heard way too many robotic maitre d's and servers.

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    This is great, thanks for sharing! It's the little things like unexpected warm words of welcome that restore my faith in humanity. Sometimes we get so caught up in the bad, negative stuff that's going on in the world that we forget that kindness still exists.

    On a side note, I didn't know you went to Siesta Key! We must discuss, I've got some serious history there :)

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Simon Good call with waiters and waitresses. I feel like they can really make or break the restaurant experience…maybe they shouldn't but I have the most face value time with them (not the chef, owner, etc.)

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Sam Haha yeah, let's talk about Siesta Key. I had never been before, it was beautiful and quiet. The element of surprise goes a long way for customers.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @OpheliasWebb Yes, you're right. I usually sniff right through the BS when a company is trying to do good, but really isn't walking the talk. Like @Carlos mentioned we're human and have emotions, companies need to start recognizing that. We do have a lot of resources so it doesn't seem that hard to do. I am going to keep my eye out for those gems who are giving back and listening to their customers. It drives me to write blog posts, talk about it with my friends and become loyal. Isn't that all they should want!?

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Simon Good call with waiters and waitresses. I feel like they can really make or break the restaurant experience…maybe they shouldn't but I have the most face value time with them (not the chef, owner, etc.)

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Sam Haha yeah, let's talk about Siesta Key. I had never been before, it was beautiful and quiet. The element of surprise goes a long way for customers.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @OpheliasWebb Yes, you're right. I usually sniff right through the BS when a company is trying to do good, but really isn't walking the talk. Like @Carlos mentioned we're human and have emotions, companies need to start recognizing that. We do have a lot of resources so it doesn't seem that hard to do. I am going to keep my eye out for those gems who are giving back and listening to their customers. It drives me to write blog posts, talk about it with my friends and become loyal. Isn't that all they should want!?

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