Two Little Words That Can Make or Break a Customer Relationship

by Joanne Gore, director of marketing, Avanti Systems

As children, we’re taught that it’s good manners to say “thank you.” In fact, we say thank you all the time: when we’re given a gift, when a favor is done for us, when we’re provided assistance or simply when someone passes the salt. But, how often do we say thank you in business beyond the sale?

Consider these statistics:

It is six to seven times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. – ThinkJar

The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is five to 20 percent –

Existing customers are 50 percent more likely to try new products and spend 31 percent more, when compared to new

At the end of May, I had the privilege of helping host Avanti’s 2017 User Group Conference, which took place in Denver, Colorado. It’s a tremendous opportunity for customers (both new and longstanding) to learn about new products, share ideas and network with their peers. For us, it’s a great way to say, “thank you” and further strengthen the customer relationship.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a LOT of work that goes into planning an event of this caliber. And, while a user group conference might not seem feasible for your business, there are many other types of customer appreciation events that you can hold to say, “thank you.” They range in size and scope, depending of course on the size of your customer base. I’ve produced (and attended) all sorts of customer events, including golf tournaments, open houses, holiday parties, sporting events, celebrations, etc.

But, what if that just isn’t your thing? What other opportunities are there to say “thank you?”

Use your CRM

Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a gold mine of information. In addition to storing contact and job information, you can use it to record things like the anniversary date of the first job produced or perhaps the last. Set up alerts that remind your sales team to say thank you – whether by email, snail mail or a good old-fashioned phone call – and be on the lookout for repeat business.


The number one question I get after attending a tradeshow is: how many leads did we get? While lead generation is typically a show’s primary objective, don’t lose sight of the tremendous opportunity it provides to (re)connect with your customers. Say “thank you” with a nice dinner or perhaps a private reception. We did this at Graph Expo, and it was a tremendous success.

Thank you/greeting cards (aka: snail mail)

In a digital world, receiving a handwritten thank you is no longer a common occurrence. As printers, you are at a distinct advantage over just about any other industry with access to designers, paper choices, unique finishes and more. What a great way to showcase your shop’s capabilities, simply by saying “thank you for your business.


Did you recently get some new equipment? Are you expanding your services? While press releases are a great way to get the word out to the masses, personalizing the message to your loyal customer base is sure to get the machines humming. Don’t be shy. Let them know what’s new and what’s coming. Better yet, invite them to an exclusive preview before you announce it to the public and/or post it to your website.

Loyalty/referral program

It’s common practice to offer discounts for new business. However, if you publicize special discounts to new customers only (i.e.: 10 percent off your first order), you risk alienating your existing customers. The solution? Why not say “thank you” publicly to your loyal customers by providing incentives for them as well. For example, receive 10 percent off their next order with any new referral (insert caveats, of course). Or draw inspiration from many loyalty programs – for every X amount of dollars spent, earn points/dollars towards future purchases.


Referrals work both ways. Perhaps you have a customer who is in real estate and another who provides landscaping. Making an introduction costs little, but the value of a newly-forged, profitable relationship is not soon forgotten. Pretty soon, they’ll be saying thank you to you with even more repeat business.

Reprinted with permission from Print Media Centr

Joanne Gore is the director of marketing for Avanti, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and a monthly contributor to Print Media Centr’s News from The Printerverse. She has nearly three decades of B2B marketing and communications experience, including corporate and small office environments.

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