I recently ran the inaugural Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in Las Vegas (well, I ran the half because I’m doing a full marathon in February). The Rock ‘n Roll Marathon series is sponsored by P.F. Chang’s, a Chinese restaurant chain. This week I received a card in the mail from P.F. Chang’s. It thanked me for participating in the inaugural Vegas Rock ‘n Roll race, and it contained a little card that gives me 15% off my dinner bill at any P.F. Chang’s until the end of 2010.
While I’m not the biggest fan of the restaurant (I think I’ve eaten there a total of two times), I was impressed. Over 27,000 people ran the race, so for all of them to receive a 15% discount for a year is a pretty generous offer. It got me thinking about customer deals and what businesses do to make their clients feel special, like they’re part of an exclusive, elite group.
27,000 of us had something in common. We all participated in an inaugural race for an event that will continue year after year, and most of us ran (or walked) one of two distances (and we’ve got the medal to prove it). This milestone put us in a special “club” of sorts, and P.F. Chang’s acknowledged us as being special. They didn’t send the discount offer to all of their customers, just the ones who signed up for the race.
What about your website? Everyone can offer a coupon code or free shipping, but what about singling out certain groups of customers, such as your oldest members or your spendiest clientele? How can you reward your most loyal customers to make them feel as if they’re in a special group that sets them apart from everyone else? Here are some suggestions:
- Offer extended return policies. Although Best Buy oftentimes serves as the Internet’s whipping boy, they do have some programs implemented for their most loyal customers. If you rack up enough points using their Reward Zone card, you get upgraded to Premier Silver status and get additional perks like a longer return policy.
- Extend free shipping to loyal customers. If you’ve had a customer who’s been loyal for years and has given you lots of business, offer free basic shipping as a thank you.
- Reward your oldest fans. If you’ve had a handful of customers who have supported you since you first launched your business, or if you had a group of people who participated in an inaugural event (like the marathon), consider extending a special “veterans” offer to them, like 10% off their purchases during your anniversary year or free goodies to thank them.
- Highlight “super star” customers. Yelp highlights random users in their email newsletters. One time they featured my profile and I was geekily excited, even though all I got was a little TLC in a weekly email. Give shout-outs to certain users and make them feel special via your newsletter, Twitter, blog, etc. A little attention goes a long way!
- Give dedicated customer service. If you’ve got big spenders, make sure they stay big by offering a dedicated customer service line or a private contact form reserved for your spendiest clientele.
I’m not saying that you should ignore your other customers to favor your big ones, but maybe you should think about going the extra mile and rewarding those who have stuck by you and supported your business for years and years. I’ve been a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly for over 13 years(!), yet they’ve given me no indication that they appreciate my loyalty. Is that going to stop me from renewing my subscription? No, but it also doesn’t make me want to go out and sing their praises to my friends and family. That would probably change if I were to receive some sort of thank you or perk for being a longtime subscriber.
Do you take any measures to “spoil” your loyal customers? What other suggestions do you have to show appreciation to your most ardent fans?