Thanksgiving is past, but giving thanks is never out of season. And what better way to express thankfulness than showing appreciation for your customers?
The value of customer appreciation isn’t a new topic. After all, it seems so simple and obvious. But doing it right? Not so much. We’re not talking about things like advertising “customer appreciation days.” We’re talking about something much more personal. JMB Marketing Group president Bob Martel says that gratitude—sincere gratitude—is your most powerful customer retention tool. It’s a tool that enables you to focus on keeping every single customer. Marketing through customer appreciation, he says, is also a key strategy that you can’t afford to overlook.
What if you wrote a thank-you note to a customer? Made a call? Shook his or her hand? Just being acknowledged in small ways like this would (a) surprise and (b) delight your customers. And chances are, you’d be cementing a relationship with lifetime value. Over and over, Martel stresses that any show of appreciation must be, first and foremost, authentic. What’s more, the importance of appreciating customers has to be woven into the very fabric of your business’s culture. Everybody has to understand it, know their role and buy in 100 percent.
Martel says that customer appreciation programs should be
- Easy to implement
- Easy to measure and monitor
- Timely and appropriate in terms of any gifts or awards
- Relatively low cost to fulfill
- High in perceived value
- Relevant to customers
- Fun – and should make everyone feel good!
It always helps to have some real-world ideas and examples. Fox Business offers just that with six easy ways to show your customer appreciation and strengthen your brand:
- Create categories (gold, silver, etc.) with rewards for volume, referrals and years of loyalty.
- Surprise long-time customers with a special service or product—free or reduced-rate.
- Create an online customer honor roll, recognizing and promoting customers.
- Make a wall of fame, highlighting customers and clients.
- Send personal, handwritten notes, letting customers know how they have helped you and your business.
- Make a call just to say thank you and ask for their ideas.
Remember, how you show appreciation needs to reflect your style (and that of your business) and be relevant to your customers. Otherwise, your efforts won’t resonate and will just be wasted.
We also like 7 ways to show customers that you care from helpscout.com’s blog, complete with photos to illustrate each idea. While customers often view appreciation as a lost art, the post says, smart business owners recognize it as a huge opportunity to turn customers into brand ambassadors for life—if done right. Handwritten notes and personal contact also make this list; we’re thinking these should be at the top of your list for next year.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net