Loyalty is a valuable commodity. First and foremost, of course, our loyal and valued customers buy from us, and better yet, they come back, again and again. But they also tend to sell us in a way that we can never sell ourselves. As a Sales and Leadership expert, but also as a customer, I have seen that loyalty is something to cultivate.
Last night I checked into the Hampton Marriott Courtyard in Hampton, Virginia. I usually stay there when I am visiting this particular client, and this time there was a card waiting for me in my hotel room. At first I wasn’t going to open it because I thought it was the typical thank you note for being a Platinum member, but it wasn’t the usual thank you card size, so I opened it up.
To my surprise there was a birthday card in the envelope (the big day is October 14). The fact that they remembered it was impressive. But what was even more impressive were the authentic messages written in the card from hotel manager Mark Bleakley and the front desk personnel. Those messages made the biggest impression—they showed not only how much they value my business but how much they care about me. Only after I opened the card did I notice a birthday balloon attached to a nearby lamp. Believe me: It’s been a while since I received a birthday balloon!
After this experience, do you think I would ever contemplate staying at another hotel the next time I come to Hampton, Virginia? Not a chance. Of course that loyalty didn’t just come from a birthday card. I have been staying here for the past three years whenever I have to come to town, and It is all of the positive experiences here stay after stay that has built my loyalty. This time they took things to a new level with the birthday card; I’ve honestly never received a card like that before from a business.
What can you do for your customers to cultivate true loyalty? How can you express your thanks and appreciation to show how much you really care about them and their business? These days I send out daily handwritten notes thanking individuals for what they have done for me (in all areas of my life). I believe handwritten notes carry a lot of weight in our era of electronic communications. Of course any thank you note (electronic or handwritten) takes time to write, but a handwritten note adds the flair of a personal touch, something that an email message cannot replicate. If you don’t want to write a note, then pick up the phone and thank people personally.
Whatever you do, do something! This inexpensive form of marketing can generate remarkable return on investment (ROI)! … And many thanks to my friends at the Hampton, Virginia, Courtyard Marriott for making my birthday a special event.