Customer Appreciation is Imperative

“A moment of gratitude makes a difference in your attitude” – Bruce Wilkinson

The connection that a service provider or manufacturer forms with a client or a customer, becomes a relationship based on mutual benefit, going forward. It is a hard won, carefully cultivated and nurtured relationship that is based on mutual benefit as well as trust. A brand lucky enough to have a loyal customer base will want to maintain that brand loyalty by showing customers appreciation. What do we mean by customer appreciation, how is it important for a brand. What are the effective ways for you to go about showing your customers what they mean to you?

Remember, it may take months to find a customer, and only seconds to lose that customer. Your customer is your business; so it makes sense to show your appreciation for this. Everyone loves to be appreciated; enjoys knowing that they matter to someone else. Customer appreciation lets your customer know that you, as a company care about the relationship you have with your customers. This in turn helps foster customer loyalty. Simply put, showing customer appreciation is a way to say “we appreciate your business; this is our way of saying thank you.”

Showing customer appreciation not only says “thank you”, it also conveys another message to your customers; that the company looks forward to a continuing relationship with the customer. The expression of such a sentiment by a company can be very persuasive for the customer. Such a connection to the customer helps to cement that relationship for the future as well. Work on customer retention by offering the best possible experience to your customer: a quality product that is perceived as good value for money, a company that is upfront about its dealings and a customer service department that does whatever it takes to solve customer problems. Customer appreciation becomes even more important at a time when the company is expanding operations or is in the middle of a reorganisation. Typically, focus shifts to processes, scaling, and acquisition; showing customer appreciation becomes low priority or is forgotten altogether.

Studies show that as many as 68% of customers stop their patronage of a particular brand simply because they feel that the company does not care about them. Only 5% of people leave because they are influenced by friends, 9% are lured away by competition and only 14% leave because they are dissatisfied with a product. This demonstrates how very important it is to not only care for your customers but to show them that you do. Further studies on the subject have found that effective strategies for showing customer appreciation serve to influence customer advocacy, customer loyalty and retention and hence increased sales growth.

Go the extra mile to offer truly top-notch customer service – an excellent way of showing customers appreciation and to send out the message that you care as a company. Ensure that your employees do all that they can to help a regular customer when they have a requirement, address a complaint or query. Memorable customer care stories make great anecdotes. These can then find their way on to social networks (the customers as well as that of the company’s official page). While the customer sharing their story on Facebook or other similar platform will be an excellent form of genuine promotion, your company sharing the story on your page with your customer’s positive reaction helps in showing customer appreciation.

Giving away freebies is a tried and tested way of showing customer appreciation. Offer a gift or a special discount voucher for no reason. Provide a free upgrade or a complimentary membership, which carries special benefits. Give extra discounts to loyal customers over and above the discount you are already offering others. Your customer will be delighted and will feel very special! Not only have you successfully reminded them of your product, you have likely lured them back for a new purchase as well.

Remember to include your customers over the holidays at festive times or when your company celebrates an anniversary or any other special occasion. A yearly calendar that sits on your customers’ desk all year will remind them of you. A pen or a keychain, or a T-shirt with your logo emblazoned on it will also serve as worthy reminders. A popular movie DVD or a book as a giveaway can also work very well; particularly when a personalised note for the customer is included along with the gift. These little giveaways will not cost too much but they go a long way in showing customer appreciation. They also act as free publicity for friends, family or colleagues of your customer.

A membership programme or a customer reward programme that lets customers earn points for purchases made, gives a special discount on birthdays or anniversaries and offers VIP benefits has several benefits. Firstly, it helps you maintain customer loyalty. When the customer has to choose between buying from you or your competitor the customer will choose you so that they are able to tot up more reward points and get to that freebie or upgrade faster. Thirdly, this makes a customer feel special; especially if the company takes care to use the right nomenclature for their club: Platinum, Prime, Club Class, Premium are words that seem to create this special feeling and are effective in showing customer appreciation.

The vast amounts of time that the average person spends on social media, presents an excellent opportunity for showing customers appreciation. You can announce special sale previews to your net savvy customers, offer exclusive promotions and even offer social media loyalty reward points for positive reviews, shares, checking in (Facebook’s location feature) and so on. Getting customers to ‘Like’ your page or follow your social media channel and the uploading or sharing interesting, informative and engaging content keeps the company engaged with their customer on a day to day basis. You can also feature loyal customers on your social pages and on your store website periodically to make them feel special or as a reward for certain buying behaviours. Creating one off personalised products for special customers and then featuring those on social pages is yet another way to show customer appreciation and to guide customer behaviours in a specific direction.

An excellent and profitable way of showing customer appreciation is by creating partnerships with other brands and offering special deals from other products and services. Your loyal customers will become entitled to special discounts from other brands with which your company may have an association. Such reciprocal arrangements with other companies to let customers avail special partner offers can be very beneficial for both companies and for the customer as well, who receives special discounts and other benefits.

Organising events is another way of showing customer appreciation is proven to be extremely effective. Depending upon the target demographic; the age, tastes and lifestyle of your customer base, an event is a wonderful way to interact with customers and show appreciation at the same time. Organise an entertainment evening or a party especially for customers. Make existing customers feel valued and special to be a part of a group with common interests; and encourage others to join the family, since this would be a great time for companies to receive valuable customer feedback.

There is really no denying that a happy, satisfied customer is a brand’s most valuable asset. Working on customer loyalty and showing customer appreciation is mutually beneficial and imperative for the company and its customers. It may not cost too much but would reap rich dividends in the longer term.

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