BY ANDI GRAYDilemma: We are working on getting clients in for a visit but they’re all so busy. We have a lot that we want to show them, and we’re trying to hold appreciation events but are running into really low attendance, which is discouraging.
Thoughts of the Day: Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and think about what they want to experience. Make a list of meaningful activities. Build a campaign. Try video when face-to-face events won’t work. Do something unusual to make an impact. Making your clients feel special and appreciated is how you keep them.
Focus on a client who can be a leader, someone you know will rave about an experience. Find out what your clients really want, then make the visit to your facility match that experience. Make it an over-the-top visit, and send the client home with pictures and examples they can use to talk about their trip. The purpose is to engage with customers on a new level.
Build a customer advisory panel. Everyone likes to give advice: Involve your customers by holding meetings to discuss where the industry is going and how that impacts everyone. In the process, you’ll be able to make suggestions on what you can do to help in the future.
Based on what you already know about your clients, answer this question: What are they most interested in? Are they looking to learn about the industry, hear about best practices, or to find out more about the latest, greatest innovations and what the future holds? Or do they want to be entertained, take a break from their job, and blow off some steam? It could be different for the various sectors that you serve (corporate travel managers versus retail customers, for example). If you’re not sure, start asking questions so you can target your offer based on specific needs. Become the great facilitator. Bring clients together who are looking to make connections within the industry. For your clients who want an education, bring them in for an education day (a great excuse to talk about issues like duty of care and TNCs). Look for common needs and concerns, and put together programs to address them. Schedule more than one date, so that clients with conflicts have more than one opportunity to join in.
Everyone likes to be recognized or receive an honor. Think of categories for which you can hand out prizes: best innovator, most effective, most efficient, best on-time, most creative, or best use of your service, to name a few. It takes planning and pizzazz to successfully land a priority position on peoples’ schedules. Begin your planning three to four months ahead of the event: Email invitations, make phone calls, and then make follow-up calls when you don’t hear back from people. Send out reminders as the date gets close. Do a check-in the week before to confirm attendance, with exciting teasers highlighting what will unfold at the event.
Take lots of pictures at the events, gather quotes from attendees, and then follow up with everyone on your invite list. Include information on who attended, what happened, what suggestions you’ve implemented—think newsletter material. Make people who didn’t attend wish they had so they’ll make coming next time a must-do.
If there are clients who can’t make the visit, share the experience through video. A picture speaks a thousand words; use a thousand frames tell a story. Interview clients during the visit, asking them to talk about their experience. Take shots of the programming you put on. Show people having fun, learning, sharing, and networking. Share pictures and video on social media. Add stories about and links to the people who attended. Ask attendees to forward it on.
Whatever you do, make sure your clients know how much you value them. Send people who attend a thank-you note. For the people who were invited but couldn’t attend, send them a note saying that you missed them and hope they’ll be able to attend next time. [CD0516]
Looking for a good book? 25 Quick Tips for Creating Memorable Customer Appreciation Events in Order to Maximize Profits and Create Fast Small Business Success! by Collin Stover
Andi Gray is the Founder of the business consulting firm Strategy Leaders. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.