Everyone likes to feel appreciated. And when they feel appreciated, they stick around.
Imagine you purchase from two brands, both of which have similar products and prices. Company A sends out a generic email after every purchase, asking what you thought of the process and product. You notice the email but rarely fill out the survey.
Company B asks about your experience too, but it's different. They personalize the message, they follow-up with a thank you when you complete it and every now and then they send you a note about a new product or offer that relates to your interests. The last time you talked to their customer service department, the staff was friendly and when you mentioned something personal, they followed up with a relevant hand-written note and $10 gift card.
Before long, you stop making purchases from Company A and begin buying exclusively from Company B. Why? The products and prices are the same. But the truth is, you enjoy buying from Company B and you feel valued every time you interact with them.
This is customer appreciation. And the example is a real-life reflection of how consumers are moving away from businesses that don't have an effective customer appreciation strategy.
More than 65% of customers leave a company because they don't feel appreciated. This number overwhelmingly trumps the combined total of the next three highest responses, including product dissatisfaction, competing brands and being influenced by friends.
Along with improved market share and loyalty, a customer appreciation strategy makes sense financially. Acquiring a new customer is 5x more expensive than keeping your existing ones happy and yet, 44% of companies still focus more on new acquisitions vs. 18% more on retention. This strategy doesn't make sense and certainly won't work in the long run, as consumers increasingly expect more from the brands they frequent.
The difference between a business with a customer appreciation strategy and one without can be the difference between success and failure. It's that powerful.
taking the first steps
A desire to implement an effective customer appreciation strategy and the ability to make it happen are often two different things. Below are a few considerations when getting started:
how will you capture customer information?
Clients (and potential clients) may interact with you in many different ways, including social media, your website, chatbot, email and phone. Without a robust system to compile your customer records, you could be missing out on information that will help you create personalized responses and gifts.
Consider how you will collect and store data from all the different areas because every interaction will likely provide additional information about your customer.
does your existing culture and training support customer appreciation?
Taking the time to explain WHY customer appreciation is essential can make a big difference in effectively rolling out a new customer focused-initiative.
For example, if the existing call center staff doesn't understand the value of each interaction, they might not listen for subtle details that can create an exceptional experience.
A traditional model might have a call center representative focused on their key performance indicators, one of which is taking a certain number of calls per hour. This focus encourages them to complete calls quickly and only listen to details that will help them understand and resolve the customer's concerns.
In contrast, a representative trained to listen to the customer as an individual might notice a crying baby in the background. When the customer apologizes for the loud noise, the representative responds with, "No problem! How old is your baby?" This prompts a brief conversation and note in the file that generates a personal follow-up. Whether that is a customized gift box, hand-written note or a just a sentence added to an email that simply says, "Congratulations again on your new daughter," the personalization is invaluable.
This shift requires a company-wide culture obsessed with serving customers and the right training to listen effectively.
are you talking to your customers regularly?
Sometimes making the sale is the only goal and after it's done, customers never hear from you again. This is a big mistake and one that is simple to correct.
Today, you can reach your customers through emails, newsletters, flyers, social media, phone calls and texts. Make sure that you have a personalized strategy for interacting regularly.
Here's a simple example of why it's important - many of us have experienced the frustration of seeing a great ad for a special on cable, cell service or internet and noticed, "Hey, that's my provider!" But upon further inspection, it's clear that this fantastic offer isn't available to "existing customers." This may prompt us to look at other providers to see what specials they're offering, which we wouldn't have done before.
While a new customer incentive can make sense, this strategy doesn't! Especially when you remember that a new customer costs 5x more than keeping your existing ones. According to research, more than 50% of customers said hearing from a company proactively to enhance a service experience would have impacted whether or not they changed providers.
Now imagine, instead of seeing the great offer yourself, that you received an email from your provider. It said they appreciated your loyalty and would like to offer you a special that wasn't available anywhere else. When you saw the public ad later, you noticed that your discount was even better than new customers were getting and felt personally valued!
how will you personalize your approach?
Customer appreciation and personalized appreciation are two very different things. One is an open-house cook-out where everyone gets a burger, even the vegans. And one is an individualized strategy that builds connections and makes your customers feel important.
It can often feel overwhelming to come up with personalized responses and gifts for each customer, but with a comprehensive plan that includes compiling customer data, aligning company culture and improving employee training, it is possible. And most importantly, it's effective.
building a strategy
From implementing the right software to culture, training and outreach, you need a strategy. Just like a car slows to a stop with one flat tire, you need all the components of your process to work together to achieve success.
If you're not sure where to get started, talk to a professional. With the right tools and proven strategies, you can begin to make changes confidently.
To learn more about how to personalize your brand experience effectively, click here.
"an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness."