“Thank you, please come again!” Colloquial expressions of gratitude are a common occurrence in business interactions. Maybe you have heard it as you finish up at the checkout counter, or seen it on a sign as you head out the door. They are so familiar to us that we may never stop to think twice about the underlying reason for them.
Customer appreciation is a large part of success for a business, particularly for those in highly competitive markets. There are many opportunities for a company to set itself apart, but one of the most important is by their treatment of existing customers.
Treat a customer right, and they have a great chance of being loyal to your business. They are also likely to recommend you to people they know. Leave a customer unsatisfied and you’ll not only lose their business but potentially the business of those around them.
“You must do whatever it is possible to do within your means to build a close and personal relationship with them.” – Alice Jackson, Tweak Your Biz
We all know that it feels great to hear “thank you” from time to time. But, companies must strive to thank customers in more tangible and meaningful ways. Finding real ways of expressing gratitude to customers produces real results. Despite all the different ways a business can advertise, one of the strongest forms of advertising is through word of mouth.
This is not a surprise since most people put more stock in the word of a friend than a television commercial. According to a report from The Nielsen Company, 92% of consumers across the globe say they trust word-of-mouth above all other forms of advertising.
In a world of hyper-competitive markets and high consumer expectation, there are ways to create loyal and lasting customers. Let’s take a look at some proven effective methods for showing your customers gratitude in a way that builds trust.
Giving Bonuses or Free Stuff
One of the most popular ways of showing appreciation for anything is through providing a free product or service. Just as we give gifts to friends and family in our personal lives, companies can connect with customers through thoughtful and useful gifts. In doing so, you express to customers that you value their commitment and support.
“Just Because” Gestures
As a rule, people like surprises! Consider sending something out to customers when they aren’t expecting anything. The occasion can be birthdays, holidays, or as a follow up to a recent purchase. Along with thanking them for their business, throw in a little extra. Special offers, coupons, or free samples make great surprise gifts. Make it something that is exclusive to new customers which shows authenticity and provides your customer with a sense of importance.
If you are able, hand-written thank you letters add a special, more personal touch. People recognize and appreciate the extra time that hand-written notes take. Also, take the time to thank customer referrals as they cost you nothing and bring more customers to your business.
Check out this study from AYTM market research that found more than 80% of respondents appreciated receiving a thank you note. It also found over 70% of those polled considered paper notes to be more meaningful than electronic. It may not seem like a huge deal, but it can go a long way towards making a thank you feel sincere. This builds a positive connection with the customer and increases the likelihood of long-term loyalty.
Rewards or Referral Programs
Another great way to appreciate customers is through a rewards program. By rewarding customers for their purchases or for referrals, you encourage them to be loyal to your brand. It also communicates that you understand and appreciate the importance of their purchases toward your company’s success.
The type of rewards will depend on factors such as the type of business you are in, budget, and customer’s needs. In many cases, allowing customers to earn free goods or services from your business works great! Companies have also found success in offering branded products that most people find useful. These include items such as customized sweatshirts, coffee mugs, or even socks. Having a diverse set of gifts to choose from helps please most customers by letting them choose a gift most useful to them.
Recognition, Shout-outs, and Spotlights
In a connected age dominated by the internet and social media, customer appreciation can come in the form of recognition. If your company is taking full advantage of online platforms to increase the visibility of your brand, then there are a few quick and simple ways to express gratitude to customers. Publicly recognizing a customer for their support of your company has never been easier.
Take the time to do some research and find customers who are actively promoting your brand online. If you have a social media following, give special recognition to customers who have been particularly supportive of your company. This can be through a “Customer of the Month” style blog post, a surprise shout-out on Twitter or Facebook, or any number of online interactions. For the tech-savvy, utilize “tagging” to make sure the recipient of a shout-out is notified. For an even greater effect, try combining the shout-out with a free offer or gift.
To make this sort of gesture even more meaningful, look for specific ways to make the shout-out personalized to the individual. If the recipient of your shout-out is running their own business, make mention of it to your audience, and perhaps provide a link to more information. Maybe you can identify a cause that your customer is passionate about, like cancer awareness. Consider using your shout-out as a way to advocate for this cause on behalf of the customer you are spotlighting.
In an ideal world, face-to-face interactions with customers would be the best way to communicate your appreciation to customers. On a practical level, meeting face-to-face with large numbers of customers is just not realistic. Thanks to technology, we do have something that is perhaps the next best thing. For many years, videos have been a great way to communicate with people across long distances while still preserving some aspects of an in-person encounter.
“No matter what type of business you own, or nonprofit organization you run, your thank you video will be a valuable reminder of your gratitude.” – Constant Contact
You most likely already use videos in some way or another to communicate information to existing or potential customers. Consider taking it a step further and using a personal video response to thank your clients. Done correctly, videos can add a personal and sincere touch that doesn’t always come across through written notes. In addition, it allows you to showcase your creativity and have fun doing something different and unexpected.
Constant Contact has a great guide on how to create such videos.
Summing it Up
No matter what your business deals in, the single most important aspect of your company is a satisfied customer base. Without this foundation, real and continued success cannot prevail. The most successful businesses don’t rely solely on great products or services. They actively devote time and resources to thanking loyal customers. Showing appreciation to customers in a meaningful way builds trust and encourages lasting relationships. These strong customer relationships become the backbone of a thriving company.
in the background at the creative office