December 19, 2022 — Few people start a road trip without their trusty GPS to guide the way. Without it, they waste time taking wrong turns, then arrive late to their destination. The same thing happens to small business owners who don’t have a customer appreciation strategy. They might say thanks after the sale, but without an on-going plan, they never arrive at the destination—loyal customers who come back for more. Set your GPS for satisfied customers with these guidelines and create your own appreciation strategy.
Put simply, customer loyalty is too important to leave to chance. Nearly 70% of customers will leave if they think a business doesn’t care about them. Worse yet, you’ll spend five times more to replace them with new customers.
Not convinced yet? The marketing firm CallRail points to these reasons why you should spend time developing a customer appreciate strategy:
One study suggests that effective customer appreciation strategies include these three elements:
What’s the right customer appreciation strategy? It depends. Not only does it vary by type of business but within a business. A VIP customer expects a different level of attention than an occasional one.
Why You Need A Plan
- Increased profits – Customers who feel the love spend more. In fact, 70% of Americans will spend an average of 13% more with companies that provide good service.
- Stronger brand – Customers who feel appreciated tell others about it, especially in social media reviews. That’s important because 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Nearly three-quarters say positive reviews make them trust a brand.
- Greater retention – Appreciated customers aren’t likely to consider other businesses when it comes time to buy. They tend to stick with a company, even through price changes.
Three Things To Include
- Personalized service – Learn what individual buyers want and look for opportunities to provide it. For example, some retail shops provide shopping advisors. These individuals provide personalized recommendations based on past purchases. They alert customers to an upcoming sale featuring an item that might interest the customer.
- Customer loyalty rewards – Identify and reward repeat customers. It might be a coupon for 10% off their next visit, a card on their birthday with a special offer, or a formal loyalty program with several levels of rewards.
- Incentives for your staff – Employees are your direct connection to customers. So reward them for making positive connections. It can be as simple as a gift certificate to the “Customer Friendly Employee of the Month.”
One Size Does Not Fit All
Start by segmenting your customers into tiers. You can use a variety of measures including: frequency of purchase, total dollar amount purchased, category of product/service purchased, number of referrals to new customers, and/or number of followers on social media.
Now you can develop a strategy for each segment. A key to that will be identifying what motivates their repeat business. Is it free shipping, personalized service, discount pricing or some other benefit? Some businesses get this information with surveys, while others look at purchase patterns with the help of a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Effective appreciation strategies focus on those key motivators within each segment. For example:
- Frequent purchasers might be motivated by discounts based on volume. Some businesses use a punch card that gives customers a bonus when the card is filled up.
- Customers who refer others might get early access to new merchandise or a discount on their next purchase (and their friend gets a similar offer as well).
- Recognize customers with many social media followers by asking them to review a new product or service. As influencers, that kind of recognition helps to preserve their loyalty.
Every business owner appreciates their customers. What differentiates the successful ones is how they show that appreciation. Start with a plan that recognizes the needs of your best customers with meaningful rewards.