“Take the time to appreciate what you have, before it becomes what you had.” – Tommy Wyatt

As we reflect on the Thanksgiving holiday, what better time to re-examine how intentional we are about making our clients feel appreciated? Not only is it a smart business strategy that will help you engage and retain your customers, but this important element of relationship building will give you far more insights to improve the customer experience. Whether you decide to implement quick and simple ideas or go the extra mile – you will get out of the relationship what you put into it. So, we recommend a healthy balance of both.

What is Appreciation Marketing?

Tommy Wyatt and Curtis Lewsey coined the term appreciation marketing in their Amazon #1 best-selling book – Appreciation Marketing® How to Achieve Greatness Through Gratitude. The concept is not new, but the authors bring to the forefront a smart business tactic that sometimes falls by the wayside – genuinely appreciating our customers. Smart sales and marketing professionals know that focusing vigorously on net-new clients and the means to obtain them (advertising, promotions, etc.) is more exhausting than cultivating existing client relationships. The barriers to a meaningful conversation with current customers are drastically reduced and offer endless business opportunities.

Why You Need to Show Appreciation

Here are three statistics to rationalize the need for, and the impact of, an appreciation approach – should you need convincing:

  • 91% of respondents said they are more likely to do business with companies that appreciate their customers. But just 62% said that most businesses they’ve dealt with have done a good job of showing customer appreciation. Source: Ask Your Target Market
  • 60% of B2B customers feel total indifference toward their suppliers. Source: Gallup
  • Loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering. Source: Temkin Group

What’s also interesting is the parallel between employee engagement and retention and customer engagement and retention. Copious amounts of research have gone into the benefits a culture of recognition among employees can bring to an organization, and it’s all founded in the same basic human needs that clients desire. Whether you are talking about your internal customers (employees) or external customers (clients), it can reasonably be determined that appreciation leads to engagement which leads to retention – both of which are advantageous from a client and talent acquisition cost standpoint, among other benefits.

How to Show Your Customers Appreciation

On one hand, the capture and use of data has enabled unprecedented capabilities in marketing to the masses, but as buzzwords such as personalization gain traction – they start to take on a new meaning. While sending out a personalized drip campaign to prospects in the buyer’s journey might make them feel appreciated, a much deeper approach is required with existing customers. Here are two ways to show your appreciation and truly personalize in a way that will resonate with your clients:

[The Free Way] Handwritten notes go a long way. Just a simple and sincere “Thank You” is not lost on many.  A phone call can be unexpected and a pleasant surprise as well. And if email you must, consider dropping your clients a line just to let them know you are thinking of them and include content they might find useful like an article or blog post.

[Splurge – #Worth It] Thank you notes are great, but you’ll really start making customers feel appreciated when you throw a Customer Appreciation Event, or better yet, invite them on a company sponsored trip with you.

Customer Appreciation Event – Resist the urge to make this about free food, drinks and lame giveaways. If you really want to make a lasting impact on clients, impress them with a brand experience. Use the opportunity to really make them feel connected to your brand through a thoughtful storyline and immersive elements that stick with them long after the event ends.

Customer Appreciation Trip – Due to cost restrictions, this would probably be reserved for your best clients, but it’s a viable way to ensure they stay your best clients. A group incentive travel program will allow for invaluable bonding thanks to the walls that come down during travel. Not sure where to start? Check out our case studies to see what other companies have done.

Now you know the what’s, why’s and how’s of customer appreciation – will you leverage this simple but underutilized strategy?

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