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It’s the personal touch

Getting citizens to pay their back taxes is not an easy task for anyone. However, the city of Syracuse in New York, has found a novel way to motivate   residents to pay their back taxes: personal notes handwritten by city officials.

The city has collected nearly $1.5 million more dollars than it predicted it would have through the traditional methods. Those methods typically included sending a typewritten letter addressed to “Dear property owner” and then threatening to take legal action if the funds weren’t paid promptly.

Partnering with researchers at Syracuse University, city officials decided to try an experiment of requesting back payment for late taxes by writing and signing thousand of notes to offending residents by hand. The notes also identified the steps that residents could take to make these payments vs. the threatening approach that had been used in the past.

Amazing results. But the basic premise is that people want to be treated as humans, not processed as just another transaction. People want to feel valued. So, whether your customers are taxpayers in a city, patients in a hospital, passengers for a flight, diners in a restaurant, students at a university, or guests in a theme park – customers are human and the more you treat them as a human and as an individual, the more chance you have of winning their loyalty.  And that has big pay-offs.

Take a look at the correspondence you have with your customers. How is the customer greeted? Dear Sir or Dear Mike? Peruse through the wording in the correspondence. Does it feel personal or cold and detached? You’ve worked hard to get your customers, it may be worth the time to let them know how much they are valued by applying more of a personal touch to your interactions.

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