In his classic best-seller, How to Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie's second chapter is entitled The Big Secret of Dealing With People. The secret is summed up in this principle: Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Carnegie said there is only one way to get anybody to do anything -- by making the person want to do it. How can you encourage members to say good things about you and give you referrals? By giving them what they and all human beings crave: honest and sincere appreciation.
The Two Magic Words
The big secret of dealing with people (or members) is often overlooked or forgotten. It's simply saying "thank you" consistently, personally and, above all, sincerely. These two words work marketing magic because members want to feel important.
Saying "thank you" is an act of kindness. But don't say "thank you" for the sake of flattery. It must be sincere. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "You can never say anything but what you are."
"Thank You" Promotes Word-of Mouth Referrals
The uncertainty of referrals and word-of-mouth marketing can be disconcerting. Can you control them? No. Can you influence them? Absolutely.
First you must provide a valuable product or service for members (You're already doing this, right?). But perhaps you can make an even bigger difference in their minds by your continued interest after you've delivered the product or service.
Each member has a different level of satisfaction with your products and services. However, all members to whom you say "thank you" are satisfied that they're important to you. This can determine whether your relationship will flourish and improve member word-of-mouth referrals.
"Thank You" as Direct Mail or E-mail
It’s likely that you’re already using (or over-using) direct mail at your credit union, right? But instead of using direct mail for promotional offers, try starting a thank you correspondence program. If you've used direct mail or e-mail but haven't sent thank you letters or e-mails, start now.
The thank you letter or e-mail to your members is targeted (you know them, they know you), personal and effective. It's guaranteed to receive a positive response.
Furthermore, it's a pleasant surprise if it's snail mail. They see your envelope. They think, this must be something for me to review, to sign, or worse a bill. Surprise! They're appreciated; they're important. And you're the one telling them so.
But don’t make all of your thank you correspondence automated. Have staff write out thank you notes, letters or e-mails at every opportunity. Don't send one with a notice or other correspondence, always send your thank you notes separately.
Writing the Thank You Letter or E-mail
The thought behind a thank you letter or e-mail may seem simple, but writing one can be tricky.
Here are 9 tips for writing winning thank you correspondence:
1. Keep it brief. Six lines (or fewer) are sufficient.
2. Make it sincere. This is crucial. If you aren't careful, it can sound awkward, even when you're trying to be sincere.
3. Start with "thank you." Dear Ms. Johnson (or first name, if appropriate): Thank you for ...
4. Make the tone warm, but professional. Be friendly, but keep it businesslike.
5. Reinforce positivity. Jog their memory of a positive aspect of the relationship.
6. Offer your continued support. If I can help, please call ...
7. End with "thank you." Thanks again for ...
8. Use an appropriate closing. Sincerely, Best regards.
9. No ulterior motive. Make it a pure "thank you," otherwise sincerity is jeopardized.
Remember: Saying "thank you" is part of building strong member relationships over time. Use these two magic words consistently and watch your member loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals grow.