Businesses must not only ensure that they continue to provide goods and services for their clients, but they should also make an attempt to show their appreciation to loyal, repeat customers.
When growing a company, you often focus on delivering new products, generating leads, and other activities on the business-side of the process. However, from the outside, this process can appear quite impersonal and cold to your customers. The goal becomes financial based and customers become a number on a spreadsheet.
If your customers feel like they are merely a means to an end (i.e. financial profit), then they will leave. It may not be immediately. Perhaps your product is fantastic, which may attract customers at first. But if they don’t feel appreciated, they will not stay, regardless of how fabulous or unique your product is.
Your business plan should include keeping your customers happy. If they feel valued, they will remain loyal to your brand. Therefore, a customer appreciation strategy is essential for the success of your organization.
Benefits Of A Customer Appreciation Strategy
A customer appreciation strategy is a marketing plan in which companies reward existing customers who are loyal to the brand. It makes sense that if you show appreciation to current customers, you are more likely to retain them, thereby increasing sales.
Customers do what is best for them. They aren’t thinking of the success of your business or your sales targets. They are only looking for the greatest deal, the hottest product, and the best customer service. And if you show them gratitude for their patronage and make them feel valuable to you – as valuable as they truly are – then they are more likely to remain loyal.
Businesses should be proactive in their customer appreciation approach. This strategy should be just as important to your bottom line as creating new products and generating leads. Benefits of an effective customer appreciation strategy include:
- Better reviews: Satisfied customers tend to leave better reviews and feedback, both formally and informally. They may write a review on a site like Yelp. They could post a positive response on Twitter. Or perhaps they may just tell a friend. Regardless of the medium, a good review from a customer can give you an advantage in a competitive market, particularly when a potential customer is researching vendors.
- Increased loyalty: An effective customer appreciation strategy will increase customer loyalty. True brand loyalty means that consumers choose your product over your competitor’s, regardless of any other feature, including price. If you develop a relationship with your clients and create a brand that is worth falling in love with, you will increase the number of loyal customers who are both repeat and frequent shoppers.
- More profits: Your overall business goal is to profit financially. A customer appreciation strategy can help you obtain that goal. It’s much easier to sell to an existing customer — in fact, it’s six to seven times easier. Create a pool of loyal, repeat customers through trust and gratitude.
Collecting Customer Contact Information
Maintaining a database of current customers is an essential piece of a customer appreciation strategy. Whether you are an internet-based company or a brick and mortar store, you can collect contact information from your customers to further your marketing attempts.
Collecting information about your customers is much easier and more common for online stores. Patrons must list their full name, shipping address, phone number, and email just to place the order. You will have a complete purchase list associated with each patron, and you can often encourage individuals to sign up for newsletters or marketing material at checkout.
For physical stores, collecting contact information becomes much more difficult. Customers do not need to provide their name, address, phone number, or email address at the time of sale. However, there are ways around this.
Loyalty programs which offer discounts or rewards are a good way to gather customer contact information. Regular, repeat customers may wish to sign up for the rewards, and you can require specific information in order for them to join. Some loyalty cards must be scanned at the time of purchase, which can help vendors track purchases and better understand each customer’s spending habits and shopping behavior.
Once you’ve collected contact information and have a better understanding of your customers’ purchase habits, you can build an effective customer appreciation strategy.
Businesses can use contact information that they’ve gathered from their patrons to reach out and show their appreciation. Sending regular correspondence to your clients is important. This can be in the form of:
Your customers will enjoy receiving discounts, freebies, and sale reminders, but they will also appreciate personalized messages. Sending out a general mass email will not impress anyone. In fact, it may cause some of your loyal customers to unsubscribe from your mailing list, defeating the whole purpose of collecting their contact info. The goal is to provide customized notifications that will enhance their shopping experience.
For instance, if a customer recently purchased a tent, you may want to send him information on sleeping bags, lanterns, and other camping supplies. For a customer who regularly buys dog food, you can customize emails with pet accessories. These personal messages show that you are concerned with their needs and wish to assist them in making future purchases.
A customer appreciation strategy does not focus on drawing in new customers. It’s about getting your current customers to continually return, so you need to give them a reason to do so. Personal correspondence helps to create a relationship with consumers. You can show them that you really want to help and that you truly appreciate their decision to shop at your place of business.
When working in a business-to-business industry, you may want to promote the success of your clients with a section on your web site for case studies. These customers will appreciate the visibility and you may see improved loyalty – even from other businesses – because of it.
Businesses often concentrate on expanding their reach by attracting new customers; however, in the process they forget about appreciating their current customer base. A customer appreciation strategy helps you remember the clients who got you where you are, your repeat customers who make frequent purchases.
Pursuing new customers is more expensive than catering to your existing patrons. Get to know your customer base and collect contact information so that you can show your gratitude. Be proactive in your strategy and send personalized correspondence to your loyal customers to show them how much you care.
If you consciously focus on customer appreciation, your customers will take notice. When they feel important to your business, patrons will not only faithfully return, they may also spread the word to others, so you will increase your customer base after all.