As many of you know, I'm a raving fan of Chipotle. I've been eating there every day for more seven years. I've written a number of blogs about them and brought them a lot of new customers by introducing friends, family, colleagues and business associates.
If someone wants to meet with me at lunch, they know the best place to do so is at Chipotle. Any Chipotle, I'm not picky. In fact I like seeing the different restaurants.
When I travel, I know where the nearest Chipotle is to where I'm staying and where I'm working.
However, Chipotle, and many other firms, are missing the boat on keeping their loyal customers, promoters and raving fans engaged the way companies like Zappos, Apple, USAA, Ritz Carlton and Nordstrom do.
Following are 10 things any company can do to recognize their loyal customers and convert them into raving fans and more active promoters:
- Give them branded clothing. Ask them what they want. Some people like hats, others shirts. I've asked for a Chipotle dri-fit polo. I'm told they're only for managers -- really? You don't want me wearing my Chipotle polo when I go to the NCAA Tournament? Colleges and universities do a great job of getting alumni and fans to promote their brands, and paying Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Rawlings a lot of money to do so. Why don't all companies with loyal followings do the same?
- Give them a behind the scenes look at how things run. Again, some people may like this, others may not. I'd love to see how Chipotle prepares for the day. Others might like to be in one of your daily team meetings. Imagine how much your customers would learn and be able to inform others about your company and what you'd learn from your customer. I look forward to going on a tour of Zappos when I'm in Las Vegas for a conference. They're even picking me up at my hotel for the tour.
- Let your best customers speak to employees and tell them why they like your brand so much. Let your employees ask the customer questions and let the customer ask the employees questions. Again, think of what you'll learn from the exchange and how much of an emotional connection the customer will now have with your brand when they get to know the people that are your brand.
- Recognize loyal customers, promoters and raving fans -- publicly in your place of business and on social media. A free drink, putting their name on the welcome sign, using their name will go a long way to making a long-term positive impression on the customer.
- Handwritten thank you notes. In today's world of emails, a handwritten thank you note speaks volumes about how much you really care about the person as an individual. After my wife was in an auto accident she went to Panera for her daily coffee, she received a "get well" card signed by all of the employees. That card is still atop our kitchen counter nine months after the accident.
- Tchotchkes. Give them little gifts every now and then to remind them of how much you value their business. Think about what's relevant to your customer and will associate your business to them. An accounting firm may use a letter opener, a law firm or optometrist a screen cleaner. Brainstorm with your employees what your best customers might like to have from you.
- Discounts/gift cards. When I first started eating at Chipotle everyday, I'd get comped, once every 10 or times so I visited. Not any more. They know I'm going to be there every day, regardless. Don't ever take your customer for granted. Let them know you value their business and think of other things you can do to simplify their lives.
- Invite them to your annual meeting. What would you and your three biggest customers gain if your customers came to your annual meeting? Both parties would end up with a lot of insights. Since you would have more employees interacting with your three largest customers, you would be coming away with even greater insights and your employees would have a better understanding of your customers. A "win-win."
- One-on-one's with managers, executives and researchers. Do you think your best customers might have some ideas on ways you could serve them, and others like them, better? Your best customers want to see you be successful. Ask them what you can do. They may also ask you what they can do to help you. Be prepared to tell them how they can best help you.
- Rewards. What is the ultimate reward you could give your best customers? A trip? A laptop case with your logo on it? A simple thank you? Ask your best customers what you can do for them to show them you value and appreciate their business.
Twenty percent of your customers account for 80% of your revenue and profit.
If you look more closely, I would bet that 4% of your customers account for about 64% of your revenue and profit (the 20:80 of the 20:80).
Do you know who those 4% are? You need to.
Also, have you identified the influencers that are passionate about your brand?
These customers do more marketing for your brand via word-of-mouth and social media than you are aware of.
Make it easy for them to do so and give them awesome experiences to share with their family, friends and colleagues.