One of the things we are working on at my firm is developing a systematic way to keep our clients happy and encourage them to recommend us to others they know. Ernest Nicastro writes about Customer Aftercare on the MarketingProfs.com web site (registration may be required). He suggests several ways to use direct mail as an effective customer retention tool. Here are the letters he suggests sending to clients with a time line as well:
“Thank You” letter: To be mailed the very day the sale is closed. Sure, this is something we all do—right? Well maybe all of us do it—but I know from experience that a number of those others don’t!
Letter from “Mr./Ms. Big”: To be mailed 10 days to 2 weeks after the account is opened. In a smaller company, it should come from the owner. In a larger company, a senior manager. This letter is a warm owner/senior management welcome and also informs the new customer that, ultimately, “the buck stops here.” Sample wording. “If the product or products you’ve purchased, or anyone in my organization, fails to meet with your complete approval—now or in the future—I would like to know about it.”
How did I/we do? Mailed a week after the sale. It’s a friendly letter explaining how important honest feedback is to you because it’s the only way you can improve. Attached to the letter is a brief customer satisfaction survey and stamped return envelope. The feedback you receive from this survey will be of tremendous value to you in your ongoing marketing efforts. It will help you make more sales and generate increased profits
Happy anniversary: Sample opening: “It’s been a year (__ years) since you opened your account (closed on your house, closed on your loan) with us. I just wanted to say Happy Anniversary and thanks again. We look forward to working with you for many more years to come.”
At random, customer appreciation letter: Sample opening: “Do you ever get so caught up in the mundane, everyday responsibilities of your job that you sometimes overlook things? I know I do. And that’s why I’m writing you.” From that point you go on to tell your customer how much you value and appreciate them and their business. Don’t do any selling in this letter. Helpful hint: Mail this letter right before you know your customer will be in contact with a large number of people—for example, right before Thanksgiving or before a trade convention or industry gathering. This way, you’ll get maximum mileage from the positive word of mouth that this letter creates.
“How are we doing?/How have we done?” survey cover letter: You should regularly survey your customers, at least once a year. Just the act of sending out the survey sends a message about how important they are to you. But the greatest benefit to you and your business is the feedback you’ll get on how you can improve. So, word your cover letter in such a way that it will encourage response. Sample copy: “At ABC Widgets, we’re committed to offering you the affordable high-performance widgets backed up by a level of service that sets the standard for the industry. Your feedback is of tremendous help to us in measuring how well we’re meeting that commitment.” The survey, whether or not they return it to you, is one more indication that they are important to you.
Birthday cards: It used to be that if you visited any Petco store, you’d find forms to fill out with your pet’s name, address and birthday. Complete one, and during the month of your pet’s birthday Petco would send your Fido or Mr. Whiskers a birthday card and an invitation to come to the store and get a 10% discount. Shouldn’t we treat our human customers with similar care and thoughtfulness? I think you know the answer.
Hand-written “Congratulations” cards: Whenever you or your assistant read or hear about awards, appointments, promotions and other forms of recognition earned by your clients—or their children—acknowledge this with a letter or card. This is a small thing to do, but it is greatly appreciated (and will pay big dividends).
Thanksgiving letter: What better time to show our thanks and appreciation to our customers than right before a national holiday dedicated to being thankful and appreciative? One client I sent my Thanksgiving letter to liked it so much that he insisted on paying me for it so that he could adapt it and send it out to his employees and customers. (For a copy of this letter, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Thanksgiving Letter in the subject line.) As Thanksgiving is traditionally the start to the holiday season, another benefit to this letter is that you can work in your holiday greetings and best wishes for the season. This way, you’ll be among the very first to do so and your sentiments won’t get lost in the deluge of Christmas cards and Season’s Greetings that will come pouring in later.
This is fantastic advice for any service provider. If you implement these ideas into your practice, you will be certain to be in the front of your client’s minds whenever they have a legal issue, or when someone they know is looking for a lawyer.