Sometimes the smallest touches have the biggest impact. You don’t need to go over-the-top or spend your entire marketing budget to create moments of surprise and delight that impress your customers. Instead, Tony LoMenzo, owner of Top 10 Collectibles, has built a thriving business on a strategy of small gestures.
In addition to selling a wide array of memorabilia online—from $2 vintage DVDs to $2,000 autographs—Tony ensures his customers have an experience that’s just as memorable. He includes a handwritten note in every order, no matter how small. And by showing customers his appreciation, he’s found they’re more appreciative too.
“A thank you note can go a long way,” Tony said. “That’s something that [I add] myself—my own personal touch—and it allows anybody who purchases from me that chance to connect with me, without asking for a review directly.”
Asking people to review your business, which is not allowed on Yelp, often leaves a bad taste in the customer’s mouth. But small acts of kindness may inspire them to keep the cycle going—in the form of returning to your business, recommending it through word of mouth, or even leaving a review.
For business owners who sell primarily through an online platform, like Tony, building a strong online presence and reputation is increasingly important. When your customers can’t connect with you in person, those small gestures let them know that you’re the one behind the sale—a real person who cares about them and is listening to their feedback.
Below, Tony shares strategies for personalizing the customer experience—starting with four small gestures that make a big impact.
1. Include handwritten thank you notes
“Entrepreneurs—and small business owners of any kind—create themselves [by adding] their own personal touch. One thing that I do, and it does take time, [is] handwritten thank you notes with every single order.
And with my entrepreneurship, I’ve allowed myself to sell products that are worth $2 or $3 upwards into thousands of dollars. But either way, each order is personalized with a handwritten note, with different arrays of small messages just to make sure people [know I] truly appreciate their support of a small business owner.”
2. Add a free item to larger orders
“[For larger orders,] if people are going to trust me on that higher level, I always try to think of little things I can add in—where it’s not maybe as cool or valuable to me, but I know that by adding anything extra in today’s world, the buyer’s highly likely to at least comment on it.
They’re gonna say, ‘Wow, this person not only wrote the thank you note, they added in extra stuff they probably had on their store and were selling, but they thought it’d be a better idea and more kind to add something extra without me even asking for it.’”
3. Acknowledge repeat customers
“[On eBay,] the technology updates tell you that the person’s actually a repeat buyer on any order. That was honestly a huge change for me on my platform because I’m able to personalize things even more.
[Now I write something like:] ‘Thanks for shopping with us again,’ or ‘thanks for your continued support.’ That update itself made me want to connect with customers so much more because I can tell that the more I do that, the more repeat buyers I’m getting.”
4. Personalize your review responses
“The more you put into [your response to a customer], whether they have an interest in something or they’ve already purchased it and they have a follow-up question, it shows that you care.
I think a lot of small business owners, especially when they are 100% online, sometimes like that autonomy of not having to interact with the customer as much. But I do the opposite. I stay on top of responding to people and showing them that regardless of the price point, they get a service that’s unique and it can be personalized to try to help them.”
Interviews by Emily Washcovick
These lessons come from an episode of Behind the Review, Yelp & Entrepreneur Media’s weekly podcast. Listen below to hear from Tony and Emily, or visit the episode page to read more, subscribe to the show, and explore other episodes.
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