Customer Experience News & Trends

Why you need a customer appreciation strategy – and how to build a great one

Sure, you appreciate your customers. But do you have a strategy for showing that customer appreciation? Here’s why you need one – and five ways to get it going.

A customer appreciation strategy is a game-changing step beyond a typical marketing or sales strategy. It’s beyond the customer lifecycle step to follow up and thank customers.

It’s a distinct, proactive effort to engage customers who make a difference in your company. If it’s successful, customers feel their importance, remain loyal and become advocates, according to research by Andy Wali and Bright Opara.

Here are key moves to get a customer appreciation strategy going:

1. Know your list

You probably have a database of customers at your finger tips — and the finger tips of everyone who touches the customer experience. But most companies fall short of maintaining an accurate, useful database of their customers. The first step is to update your list with proper mailing and email addresses, and customer activity. You want to know buying, inquiring and referral levels so you can get a better picture of the right kind of appreciation for each group of customers.

2. Break down the list

Put customers in three categories based on quantity and quality values that matter most to your company and industry. For some, it could be dollar and product quality levels. For others, it could be purchase frequency and referrals rates. Researchers advocated segmenting customers into three categories — high, moderate and low buyers. Every customer gets thanked. But you want to base the rewards — if any — on their level. Researchers said the tiered system attracted repeat purchases, boosted customer loyalty, increased customer advocacy and gave a high return on the reward investments.

3. Promote customers

One way to promote customers: Feature customers on your website in something like “customer profiles” that highlights their personal and professional successes, plus how they’re using your products or services. Some companies get freelance writers to keep up with the regular segment (interview, write and post the stories). If you have B2B customers, feature their businesses — with embedded links to them — in your promotions. Also, invite your social media followers on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to follow your customers, too.

4. Contact customers more frequently

In an Accenture study, customers said one of the best ways companies can prevent them from leaving was to reach out more often with ways to make their experience better. You want to schedule the frequency and ways to reach out to customers and the kind of information you offer, such as tips on getting a longer life out of your products or industry insights that affect them. Plus, you want to schedule time for employees to do it.

5. Thank them sincerely

“Thank you” can’t be relayed enough. In fact, one company found that including “thank you” in the subject line of emails to customers increased open rates by 15%. Simple things still work best — personal calls from sales or service reps, post cards, personalized email — as long as the thank you message is sincere and timely.

What you can expect

Companies that have initiated a customer appreciation strategy have found benefits that you’ll want to replicate, according to researchers.

  • Stronger presence. Companies with customers who feel appreciated tend to have better reviews and feedback than those that don’t make the extra effort.
  • More loyalty. Customers who feel appreciated aren’t as likely to search for other providers as other customers. Appreciated customers also are less sensitive to price increases because they recognize the value of the relationship, products and service.
  • Increased profits. Customers who feel special usually buy and spend more. Because they appreciate the good relationship, they also refer new customers.

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