What new things are you doing to make your customers happy this year? Take some time now to drive value for your customers, and benefit from it all year long.

Know your customers

Know who they are, where they're from, what products they've purchased, how much they've spent, or how they've interacted with your marketing. Then you can slice and dice that information and offer specials or information based on their interests. Where does all this information live? Think about your contact management system (if you have one), your e-commerce service, or even your email marketing company. No matter where it lives, having quick access is smart.

  • Identify customers who haven't purchased in six months, and send them an email with a great deal.
  • Find people who have signed up for your newsletter but never bought, and give them a first-time customer discount.
  • Get quick access to your loyal customers. Ask them to tell their friends about you. Speaking of...

Ask your customers to tell their friends

I was just at a hotel where I received amazing service. The general manager asked us for a recommendation on TripAdvisor, and we gave one! A site like TripAdvisor comes up pretty high in the search rankings when you search for travel plans, but your business may not. The more quality inbound links you have and positive mentions, the more people will find your business on the search engines.

Answer them any way they want to talk to you

Any way customers can get ahold of you, let them! Whether it's messaging you on Facebook or Twitter, or sending you an e-mail or chat, you should have options open for customer contact. Years ago, when a fiber line was cut in the Bay Area and our service was interrupted, we turned to social media to let people know what was up and answer their questions. 

Surprise them

Starbucks gives coffee away during certain times, and Uber gives ice cream. Imagine how easy it is for your business to do something fun. If you're a retailer, do a "happy hour" after work in which people can stop by for some wine and cheese while you show them a new line you've got. Online retailers can send a discount card in the mail to the best customers to show appreciation. B2B companies can give services away for a day. I ran an e-commerce division of a company, and we emailed people that at a random hour, we would refund everyone who purchased from us during that time (and we didn't pick 3 a.m.!).

Go Above and beyond

So many companies look at how much time employees spend on the phones with customers and prospects. Get them in, get them out, move on to the next seems to be the usual approach. When was the last time you were shocked that someone at a company you do business with spent a lot of time helping you with what you wanted instead of rushing you? This is a great opportunity for you to go above and beyond this year. If you listen to your customers, give them what they want, don't waste their time, and be nice, they'll talk you up for years to come.

Employ some of these easy ideas, and let us know how they work.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, sign up for the free VR Buzz and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

Published on: Feb 10, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.