While it’s easy to view customers as just another business account, you must remember they’re people with very real thoughts and emotions. Keeping this in mind, let the coming year be the year that you show better appreciation for your loyal clients.
The Significance of Customer Appreciation
For all of the time and energy businesses pour into product development and other important business tasks, the reality is that everything pales in comparison to the significance of customer appreciation.
According to data collected by the U.S. Small Business Administration, 68 percent of clients leave because they feel the business doesn’t care about them. Compare that to just 14 percent that blame product dissatisfaction and you’ll see how critical customer appreciation is to a company’s overall health and well-being.
Customer appreciation can be defined as the measure of a company’s efforts to show customers their value and importance. It’s the way in which businesses show customers they’re grateful for them. The benefits of high customer appreciation include:
- Higher retention rates. As the previous data point shows, customers who feel appreciated are much more likely to become repeat customers. They have a positive association with your brand and will come to you with their future needs.
- Increase profits. It’s not just that these customers come back and do business with you again — they also spend more. Research shows loyal customers purchase products and services 90 percent more frequently, while spending 60 percent more with each transaction.
- Positive word of mouth. As you know from experience, customer acquisition can be expensive. There are multiple stages involved in moving people from awareness to purchase and the dollars quickly add up. But do you know what doesn’t cost a thing? Positive word of mouth. When your customers are satisfied with the value you offer and feel appreciated, they’re apt to tell their friends and generate organic referrals and leads for you.
- Benefit of the doubt. Finally, customers who feel appreciated are much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt in situations where you fail to meet expectations. Whether it’s a late delivery, order screw-up or an interaction that’s uncharacteristic of your company, they’ll give you a second chance (as opposed to immediately going to your closest competitor).
The desire for appreciation is in our DNA. “As human beings, we long for connection. During that precious moment when someone sees us, praises us, or validates us, there’s a spontaneous connection that can arise — if we’re open to it,” psychologist John Amodeo explains. “Feeling appreciated strengthens the bond between people. It helps satisfy our longing for healthy attachment.”
While customers certainly seek and find more meaningful benefits in the relationships they have with family, friends and romantic interests, the appreciation that your business exudes goes a long way towards establishing a profitable and sustainable business connection.
4 Ways to Show Clients Your Appreciation
Every customer is different. Some people find meaning in tangible expressions of appreciation, while others simply want to hear you say a kind word.
Regardless of who your customers are and what they prefer, here are some practical steps you can take to show your clients that you appreciate their business in 2018.
1. Host an Event
There are plenty of subtle things you can do — and we’ll discuss those in further detail in the following points — but sometimes the best strategy is to do it big. In B2B companies, or small businesses that have a very specific and localized customer base, hosting a customer appreciation event is an awesome way to leave a lasting impression.
The key is to look at customer appreciation events in the same way that you would a dinner party you’re hosting in your own home. Guests are to be viewed as special friends, not customers you’re trying to close.
When asked about her New Year’s resolutions to be a better party host in 2018, For Your Party’s Rachel Anderson says, “Be better at following up with guests after the party and thank them for coming.” Anderson’s coworker Emily believes you should, “Put effort into the details, such as handwritten place cards or thank you notes to make guests feel special.”
Execution is the most important aspect of hosting a customer appreciation event — and success is found in the details. Be intentional about every little aspect and leave nothing to chance.
2. Personalize Your Services
Personalization of products and services is another way you can show your customers that you appreciate them. Not only do personalized features play to a customer’s likes, interests and needs — but the mere fact that you went through extra effort says a lot about your brand.
Personalization can happen in a number of ways. It could be something as simple as creating a custom color scheme that coincides with a client’s logo, or something as complex as tweaking software code to integrate a custom feature that doesn’t exist in the standard product offering.
3. Send Hand-Written Notes
“In today’s world, instant communication through emails, social media and text messages is commonplace, while receiving a handwritten card or letter in the mail is rare,” one customer engagement expert believes. “Even though technology has changed the way we communicate, receiving a handwritten, personalized note still touches our emotions in a way instant communication tools can only dream about.”
This year, make it a habit within your organization to send handwritten notes to customers. While a long, detailed note is sometimes useful, you don’t have to spend a ton of time on them. A simple note like this works well:
“Hey, Dave! I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your business. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work alongside you this year and I hope we’ll continue to do so for years to come. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you.”
The process of writing this note, sticking it in an envelope, and dropping it off in the mailbox takes less than five minutes, but imagine how much more appreciation your customers would feel this year if you wrote one handwritten note per day.
4. Launch a Loyalty Program
While loyalty programs ultimately end up benefiting your business more than anything else, they also have the added advantage of making customers feel appreciated. As you look for unique ways to engage your top customers this year, consider launching some sort of loyalty program that rewards them for their repeat business.
What you don’t want to do is blindly launch a loyalty program. You’ll waste a ton of resources and do very little to move the needle on customer appreciation. Take your time and study what successful brands like Starbucks and Amazon do and you’ll learn a lot.
Make Next Year the Year of the Customer
If you’ve been in business for any period of time, you’ve had years where you look back and realize that everything you did was about you. You’ve also had years where you came to realize that you did a pretty good job of prioritizing customers. Almost certainly, the years when you put customers first were more successful and profitable than the ones when you were self-centered.
Now’s the time, as you prepare for the coming year, to make a pact with your team to prioritize customers. As part of this shift, you need to develop a concrete customer appreciation strategy that allows you to engage and connect with customers on an intensely personal level.