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For Small Businesses, 'Thank You' Goes a Long Way

“Thank You.”

Such a simple phrase, but one that goes a long way toward showing gratitude or appreciation for a job well done. Two small women-owned businesses have used the expression to generate customer loyalty while increasing profits.

The owners of SimplySoles, an online boutique selling designer women’s shoes, and Claridge + King, a company that sells loungewear for women inspired by men’s fabrics and tailoring, hand-write a thank-you note to every one of their customers.

Both agree the gesture creates an allegiance among their clients, a relationship that can often be difficult to foster with an online company.

Kassie Rempel began her District of Columbia-based shoe company with only an 800 number and a tape gun, shipping shoes out of her home in 2004. That basic format expanded this year into a $2 million-in-sales company that has headquarters and a 5,500-square-foot store in Georgetown.

With each pair of shoes ordered, Rempel sends a hand-written thank-you note. She features customer profiles in her catalogs and on her Web site, www.SimplySoles.com, in a special section called “SimplyMe.”

“Women especially want to know who they are doing business with, and that doesn’t change when they shop online,” says Rempel. “Our goal is to connect with people who share our passion for shoes and accessories, be they current or potential customers.”

Co-owners and sisters Laurann Claridge and Lizbeth King fell in love with selling men’s classic dress shirts and ribbed undershirts made for women. They make sure to include a note of thanks with every receipt, even for the wholesalers.

“With Internet retail, you easily lose the rapport that you would have in person with customers at a store. I like people to still feel we are approachable – even online,” says Claridge of their company, found at claridgeandking.com. “We are grateful to have so many repeat customers and have found that sending a note of our appreciation really goes a long way.”

The owners of both businesses personalize their customers’ online-shopping experience by placing their photographs within the pages of their respective Web sites and by actively participating in social media.

On the shoe Web site, customers have posted their own testimonials about Rempel’s customer service. Rempel has also received notes from her customers thanking her for the notes she sent with their orders.

In addition to the personalized notes, the business owner writes “a blog and share[s] my online closet to make customers feel like they are dealing with a person and not a nameless, faceless online corporation,” she says. “It’s as close as we can get to replicating the boutique model without meeting them in person, and based on the response, it works.”

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