For many consumers, receiving the best product or service at the best price won’t win their business or improve customer retention – the key is actually a satisfactory shopping experience. Survey findings compiled by GrooveHQ reveal that 82% of consumers have left a company because of a bad service experience. This willingness to leave can cost your business a pretty penny. Last year alone, U.S. retailers lost about $150 billion in potential revenue because their customers reported a disappointing shopping experience. This makes sense when you consider the number of options available to consumers nowadays if they feel the least bit unappreciated. Think about the last time you considered buying something from a business but were turned off by the service. You could walk right out, pull out your smartphone and find another retailer down the road (or have an online order shipped to your home). If you can do that, so can your customers.
With so many options for consumers to shop around, it’s more important than ever to know how to keep customers by showing that you value them so they’ll stick around for the long run. Here are a few customer appreciation ideas for improving customer retention by showing your clients and customers that you appreciate them without having to break the bank.
1. Create a Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are a tried-and-true tactic for not only customer appreciation, but also encouraging return business and amplifying marketing efforts. Starting one can be as easy as offering your customers a punch card that leads to a free gift after a certain number of purchases. Nothing says you appreciate your customers like offering free stuff! If you’re ambitious, you can investigate setting up a premium program that uses a digital component, which might include asking your customers to sign up to receive special offers via email or earn rewards for engaging your business on social media. The best thing about loyalty programs is that they can be as simple or sophisticated as you want, so they can easily fit into almost any size budget you’ve set aside for customer appreciation.
2. Offer Customized Discounts
The moments between customer interactions and sales offer a wealth of opportunities to further your customer appreciation efforts. What you do after customers leave your store can go a long way towards showing your appreciation for them. The simplest place to start is with birthdays (just the month and date – no need to embarrass customers by asking how old they are). On a customer’s birthday, you can send an email offering happy wishes and an incentive for stopping by your business in the near future, such as a discount or an upgrade. Your customer will appreciate the recognition, and you’ll be one step closer to building a long-term customer relationship and improving customer retention. You don’t have to limit yourself to birthdays, either. Use what you know about your customers to find touchpoints where you can connect. For example, if you know one of your customers plays on a local sports team that won a big game, then you can send them a congratulatory email offering them a discount on their next visit to celebrate the victory.
3. Add A Personal Touch
Sometimes it’s the little things that really make your shopping experience stand out from the competition and show your customers that you appreciate them. Many big-box brands don’t have the ability to provide a personalized shopping experience, and that’s your opportunity to jump in and provide a truly unique experience. Adding a personal touch, such as offering to carry customer packages to their car or sending a hand-written thank-you note with an online order, is a simple, cost-effective way to go the extra mile, impress your customers, and improve customer retention.
4. Hold Customer Appreciation Events
Inviting customers to an event is a great way to show your appreciation while also building a relationship with them. An informal get-together is the perfect time to listen to what your customers have to say without the pressure of being in a sales environment. Talk to some of your most valued customers to see what sort of event they’d be interested in – it could be a small party at your store or a family BBQ at a local park. You might even consider partnering with neighboring businesses to throw a block party, which has the potential to bring THEIR customers into the loop as well (or in other words, prospects for your business).
Don’t let your creativity on how to keep customers be limited by this list. Take time to think about your own customer appreciation ideas by noticing what your favorite stores do to make you feel appreciated as a customer (or, conversely, think about what you WISH a company would do to make you feel appreciated). You just might stumble upon a unique way to truly bolster your customer appreciation efforts, improve customer retention, and make your shopping experience stand out from the competition.
Written by Heidi Capodanno
Director of Customer Experience, Union Savings Bank