Since I've just spent two days last week celebrating family birthdays, let me share with you some birthday thoughts and business building tips.
I recommend that just about every specialty retailer and other customer-focused service business should try to capture his/her customers' birthday. Whether it is part of a loyalty program or through clienteling, the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate in a customer's birthday is a great way to build a stronger connection with the customer, and when done right can create incremental visits and sales.
Some sales associates might feel awkward asking customers for their birthdate. The best way to ask is to state the benefit first before asking the birthdate question. "We love to celebrate our customer's birthdays, and if you'll share yours we'll be sure to do something special. What is your birthdate?"
Here are some specific ways you can celebrate customer birthdays.
1. Send a card signed by your entire staff. One of the first birthday cards I get every year is from Southwest airlines, signed by their executive team. Obviously, the cards aren't hand signed, but it is still a nice touch. It is especially effective because it arrives every year; this is probably the tenth year I've received a card from them. I highly recommend that you send a hand signed birthday card to at least your VIPs.
2. Send a birthday email. Not as personal as the card, but it is still a nice way to connect with your customer on their special day. I got a nice note from my insurance agent and several businesses with which I've done business.
3. Send the customer a special birthday offer. I got a number of birthday specials last week including ones from MLB.com, JetBlue, and a few others. Most were 10% or 15% off a purchase, which, frankly, wasn't enough to motivate me.
My favorite thing to do is to send the customer a $10 or $20 gift card in the mail or something via email that can be printed. That, to me, is a real gift. The retailers I know who do this tell me they always make money on these sales.
4. Have the customer come to the store for a birthday gift. I like this idea as it creates an incremental visit. The staff can have on hand a number of pre-made gift bags containing small treats and a small gift. Including a gift card is also a nice way to prime the sales pump.
5. Call your customers and wish them a happy birthday. I know some stores that call their best customers and sing happy birthday to them. If you heard me sing you wouldn't think that was such a treat, but it is a great way to stand out to your VIPs.
6. Host a monthly birthday party. Invite your customers into the store to celebrate birthdays on, say, the last Wednesday of the month. Serve cake and drinks, and consider giving a small goodie bag away. Of course, you'll invite all of your customers who come in that day to join in the celebration, which if anything creates a fun atmosphere during an often-slow time of the week.
So let me ask, are you leveraging your customers' birthdays to make a stronger connection, and drive incremental sales and visits?
Have a great week!
Doug Fleener is a proven retail and customer experience expert that helps companies dramatically improve their customer experience and their results. Visit our website or call Doug at 866-535-6331 to discuss how he can help you create an extraordinary experience and results.