It's the time of year when we reflect and give thanks for many wonderful things in our lives — people, talents, opportunities and the comforts of life. It's also a good time to give thanks for the customers who sustain our businesses throughout the year. Thanking customers is not just the right thing to do, it's proven to be a way to retain customers, build relationships and promote future sales.
So, in the spirit of giving thanks, this post offers some of the best ways to show appreciation for customer loyalty and trust.
We know that keeping customers is easier than finding new ones. A study by Lee Resource Inc. shows that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it costs to keep an existing one. Other experts estimate the cost to be even more, up to seven times more costly. This makes it clear where our efforts should be focused. Read on to see how a little recognition goes a long way to keep those customers you've worked so hard to gain.
Seven Ways to Recognize Customer Loyalty
We can thank our buyers for their customer loyalty in many ways. A key to doing it well is to understand that customer loyalty involves emotion and nurturing emotions works, not in just personal situations, but in business as well. Here are seven ways to say thanks to loyal customers:
1) Value all feedback, good and bad.
The idea of getting a negative customer review on your website or product page can keep business owners awake at night. That's because based on a survey by Dimensional Research, 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
It's in your best interest to address the negativity and get to the bottom of it. That means making it right, learning from the comments and making adjustments.
In terms of adding value to your business and improving customer service and delight, negative reviews can present the best opportunity to gain insight as to what your customers truly want and what they are eager to pay for. Going in search of the negative is, in fact, a strategy you can use in buyer persona research that is critical to defining your target audience and offering exactly what they want.
2) Use your words.
Personal contact and interaction is invaluable when it comes to understanding what your customers want and need. Reaching out at the expected times with a "thank you" is a given; but reaching out at other appropriate, but unexpected, times with a thank you or just to check-in can build relationships and also sometimes reveal great feedback about improvements your company could make to products or services. Use your words and the right channel, such as handwitten notes, a personal e-mail, a well-composed thank you page or an attractive visual offer to make a connection that makes your customer feel valued.
3) Invest in a CRM system.
A CRM (customer relationship management) system doesn't just benefit your internal team through organization and automation tools. It makes the customer's experience with you much smoother and saves them time in dealing with and communicating with you. Our related blog post details 10 ways the Hubspot CRM can help grow your business, including assisting you in becoming a better listener and delighting your customers. Some of the top CRM systems include SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics, Nimble and now Hubspot. With the Hubspot CRM, in particular, you can see your contacts' interactions and conversations at a glance. When you know exactly which types of content your contacts are viewing on your site, you can more easily meet their needs in a timely manner.You're able to start conversations with their specific areas of interest in mind, giving them a highly-personalized experience with you. Here's a quick view of the Hubspot CRM:
Image credit: CRM
4) Assign a loyalty ambassador.
If you want to take customer retention seriously, invest resources to nurture your customers. You may consider assigning a "loyalty ambassador" within your company to keep tabs on the pulse of customer engagement and satisfaction. This could allow you to better track the interactions or outreach you have with current customers.
The ideal candidate for this role will be an individual in customer service, marketing or from a product team. He/she should regularly report on interactions and feedback from customers. This person is or will become an expert in your CRM system, since a CRM system can make it simple to track and share customer information.
Research by KISSmetrics shows that we can increase the customer "lifetime value" to business by increasing customer satisfaction. The image below is a snippet from an infographic by KISSmetrics.
Image credit: KISSmetrics
5) offer true rewards.
Rewards programs are great, as long as they work. Customers are interested in a good value, a smooth experience and in the path of least resistance. Rewards programs — including rewards cards, points or discounts — need to be easy-to-redeem and quick to access.
Don't be afraid to use part of your marketing budget to thank your customers. Remember, it's easier to keep customers than to find new ones.
6) Make offers relevant, welcome.
Customers are more likely to purchase, take you up on online offers and/or consume your online content if what you're offering is relevant to their interests and to their stage of the buying cycle. How do you find out what your customers are interested in? It's likely that since they have purchased from you in the past, you already have a few valuable pieces of information that you can use to suggest relevant offers.
You can carefully use personalized information to customize your offers. For example:
- recognize a business or work anniversary with a discount offer;
- remember birthdays with a card and small gift offer redeemable during that month;
- send holiday cards with an invitation to a sneak peek of new products or to a social gathering.
Promotions and special offers are a way to keep customers engaged with your brand at times other than when they are actively shopping for your service or products.
7) send business to your customers.
If you're a B2B company, you probably have customers or clients in a variety of industries. As your reach grows, you may have opportunities to share networking contacts that will be mutually beneficial now and long-term.
Setting your customers up with potential business leads is a huge thank you that can lead to stronger relationships, future business, added revenue and a stronger network for all involved.
Takeaway: Keep customers happy!
So what's the takeaway? Keep your customers happy and you won't lose them! The infographic below, published on the Get Satisfaction blog gives some more insight on why customers leave a product or service and what smart companies can do about it.
ending On a positive Note
As we learned in the graphic above, customers don't usually abandon a brand due to the qualities of a product — they leave because of poor or less-than-satisfactory customer service. On the bright side, delighting your current customers and thanking them sincerely for their customer loyalty can result in customer retention and can boost the overall value of each customer to your business. It's good practice at this "thankful" time of year and all other times as well!
If you're interested in getting to know your customers even better by developing buyer personas, check out our free e-book below, "How to Create Buyer Personas for Your Business."
Image credit: thanks