This post was contributed by Sadie Aram for Silverbrook Marketing.
Celebrating gratitude is one of the most fulfilling parts of the holiday season. Although it’s fun giving gifts during the holidays, remember that appreciation should happen year-round—especially when it comes to your customers. After all, they play a crucial role in your company’s success. No matter the size of your business, implementing a strong customer appreciation strategy can set you apart from your competitors.
Think of going the extra mile for your customers like a chain reaction. When you openly recognize a customer’s value, they become more loyal to your business, increasing your customer retention. Loyal customers are also more likely to refer your business to their friends and family (and referrals are also likely to be star customers).
If customer appreciation isn’t on your radar, it could be one reason you’re losing customers. Almost 70% of buyers abandon a company because they believe the company doesn’t care about them, compared to less than 15% of buyers who abandon a company due to product or service dissatisfaction. Fortunately, upgrading your customer appreciation efforts can start with these 7 tips.
1. Handwrite thank you notes.
In a world where commerce is highly digital, showing authentic gratitude can go a long way. Sending a personalized letter is a great approach! It shows your customer that there’s a human behind the company that wants to form a connection. If you’re short on time, try drafting automated emails for specific occasions instead. You could thank customers for recent purchases or even celebrate milestones like their “customer-versary.”
2. Spotlight loyal clients.
Promoting customers or businesses on social media and via email can be equally fun and productive. You do this by posting a customer’s story, highlighting a rave review, or grabbing an existing bio if your clients are other businesses. By consistently featuring supporters, you make customers feel good while also creating content for your company.
3. Give discounts and freebies.
Gifts of any size are sure to flatter your customers. It can be as small as a coupon for their next order, a free sample with their purchase, or branded swag like a t-shirt or a mug. If you’re feeling extra gracious, offer an upgrade to their current service or send them their favorite product free of charge. Remember to be thoughtful; consider sending your handwritten note with the gift to deliver the full package.
4. Build a loyalty program.
Loyalty programs are an effective way to express your gratitude to your most supportive customers. Discounts on future purchases, early access to new products, and other perks are sure to keep your customers happy and coming back for more. Programs can be based on different tiers of membership, points earned from each purchase, or a simple “punch card” approach.
5. Encourage (and reward) referrals.
Incorporating a referral program is one of the most highly praised marketing methods, as it generates several quality leads per customer. Like a loyalty program, a referral program is beneficial to both your customers and your business. As mentioned before, regular clients are likely to recommend your company to others. Since that helps your business, why not reward both parties for it? Cash back and free service offers are foolproof ways to encourage customers to refer a contact to your company.
6. Correct your mistakes.
Since there are humans behind every business, occasional mistakes are inevitable. While you can’t go back in time to prevent the mistake, you can control how you take accountability and apologize. In fact, 78% of customers will forgive a mistake if their customer experience is excellent. You can quickly turn a customer’s poor experience around by promptly fixing the problem and going beyond what was initially asked.
7. Give back to a cause close to your customers.
Free stuff can be the way to some people’s hearts, but customer loyalty runs much deeper to others. Show your consumer base that you care by donating to a charity that aligns with their values. You could even consider making a few small donations in each client’s honor to show that they played a role in the support. Having a consistent corporate social responsibility initiative can also contribute to a strong brand identity.
These tactics are a great way to foster beneficial relationships with your clients, but they’re not a “one-and-done” deal. Practice gratitude frequently and genuinely to send the right message to your customers.