Creative Living Ideas

How to Build Lasting Relationships with Positive Customer Experiences

Create a positive experience for your customers and you’ll find them returning for more.  This one vital step will also set you apart from your competition.

The following is an article written by Laurie Neumann, owner of Gift Expressions Online, and was originally published in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of GiftBusinessINSIDER magagine. The information is as important today as when originally published.

I recently attended a wedding which I will remember for a long time, because of the "experience" it created.
The bride and her mother are both quite creative and did a lot of the work themselves.  I think they had worked on it for almost a year, ever since the couple became engaged (maybe even before!).
The music chosen for the bride and her attendants to walk down the aisle during the ceremony wasn’t the traditional wedding march played at most weddings. It was music that I was unfamiliar with but was very elegant and fit perfectly.
The programs were handmade and color coordinated with the theme colors of the wedding.
The reception was held in the gym of the same church as the ceremony, but you would never have guessed it was a gym.  As we walked into it, the little lights that had been hung around the room gave off a nice, soft glow and set the tone for the evening.
The bride chose a country theme for the wedding.  The choice was gorgeous as well as making it very special and personal for the couple.  Let me share with you some of the other special touches.
On the way into the reception area, there were two tables set up, one for coffee and one for tea and hot cocoa.  There were country style jars holding the tea and cocoa, set on beautifully decorated tables along with pictures of the bride and groom.   Candles and lanterns were set in each window on the way in,.  Their glow provided another homey, warm, welcoming accent to the guests.
As we entered the reception room itself, which no longer looked like a gym, we were greeted with tables elegantly decorated in colors that matched the colors in the bridesmaid’s dresses.
There were many young people at this wedding which was alcohol-free.  After dinner, the dancing began.  The DJ was also the perfect fit for the evening as he kept the music going all evening and even mixed some humor in here and there.
The area for dancing was small but the guests made the most of it.  The kids and many of the adults as well had a great time without alcohol, dancing almost every dance and singing along with the music. It seemed as if they all knew every word to the songs!  Mixed in during the evening were the  traditional bridal dance, father/daughter dance, and Dollar dance.
When it was time to cut the cake and have dessert, the bride had thoughtfully provided lots of different kinds of cookies as well. (yay! because I’m not a cake person).  The cookies were delicious but a great addition was little recipe books (decorated in the same style as the program) with the recipes for all the cookies that were served that night.  It was wonderful to be able to try the cookies and have the recipes right there as well. As we were sitting at the table after the dinner and all the scheduled activities were done, the mother of the bride handed out a cute gift bag to each person/couple, so that they could fill the bag as they left with wedding favors  The favors were also handmade and beautifully wrapped.  There were four big bins of country wedding favors at the door as we left with instructions to take a gift from each bin for your gift bag.
When I used the ladies room that evening, I noticed it had also been decorated to match the decor of the evening, and had pictures of the bride up against the mirrors.  I am assuming (although I didn't check it out!) that the men's room had pictures of the groom.  Another very cute and personal touch.
There were even more special effects that evening, but I think you are beginning to see the impact this type of planning can have on an event.  It created a beautiful experience for each of the guests at the wedding.  It was easy to tell that it was important to the parents of the bride and groom for each guest to feel welcome and have an enjoyable, unforgettable evening.
What type of experience are you creating for your customer? What impact do you think adding personal touches could have on your business?  Do you think customers might return to you over and over again?
I would go to that wedding all over again because it was so nice and personal.  I have been to many other weddings that were nice but were not half as memorable as this one was.  It was the personal touches that made all the difference and created the experience.
This is how we have  to treat our customers.  They should feel that we are thrilled they chose us to do business with, and make it worth their while to come back.  How can you do this?
If you own a brick and mortar business, you could personally greet your customer as they walk in, offer them a cappuccino or cup of tea, and make them feel welcome.  If our customers arrive via the internet, we need to create this same kind of effect, but we have to do it virtually.
From the designing of your business card, with your website info on it, that should go out with each order, to your prompt and friendly handling of emails and phone calls, everything you do should say " I appreciate you as a customer."
An example of this is  a company that my daughter used to order clothing from.  When the package arrived with her order,   each item was wrapped in pretty tissue paper and tied with a bow.  Included was a thank you note from the company for doing business with them.   A magnet, with  the company  name and website on it, that were included in each order.  A little thoughtfulness produced something a little out of the ordinary that made an extraordinary impression.
Notice what other businesses do that get your attention.  Try to determine how you could incorporate the ideas and tailor them to your business.  What do you remember about places that you have done business with?
One of my favorite places to shop is Lands End.  We have an inlet store in our area. Whenever I shop there, it is a good experience.  You can tell that the employees really enjoy their job because they are all so friendly and helpful.  And it is so easy to return merchandise.  It is a hassle free process and takes all of about a minute.  I will certainly go back again and again, simply because  they make it a pleasure to do business with them.  I feel welcomed there.
With all the competition today, it is the special touches that will set you apart.  What can you do to make an impression and encourage people to return to your business?  Try it, and watch your business grow.

Creative Gift Ideas to Celebrate a New Mom
22 Ways to Say "I Love You" Without Words