Ongoing Customer Loyalty: Add Customer Appreciation Tactics to Your Strategy

By: John Michel
happy customer receiving customer appreciation email
You don’t need to be reminded of the importance of keeping your customers happy. But as a business grows, they tend to focus on scaling, processes and acquisition, and in turn, become more impersonal and colder toward their customers.
Keeping your customers happy is about making them feel like you care about them. Making them feel valued. Making them feel appreciated.
If you take care of your customers, they will take care of your business. Put this into practice by applying customer appreciation tactics to your strategy.

Understand the Psychology of Decision Making

No matter the external factors at play, decisions are driven by emotions, which influence how consumers buy—whether they know it or not. Michael Levine of Psychology Today says rationality only represents about 20% of human decision making—meaning emotions drive the other 80% of the choices we make.

(Forget about making a decision when hungry, angry, lonely or tried. The acronym “HALT” is exactly the point here: DON’T DO IT! When making decisions while feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired emotion wins 100% of the time.)

It’s no surprise emotions intensify during a crisis, which can lead to irrational buying decisions.

These intensified emotional states can provide businesses with an unprecedented opportunity to start a two-way conversation and build relationships with consumers. People are looking for companies and brands they can trust now more than ever.

In fact, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience, according to a research from PWC. For example, customers are willing to pay a premium of up to 13% (and as high as 18%) for luxury and indulgence services, simply by receiving a great customer experience.

It’s important to have a clear purpose the customer can relate with. Brands that pass this critical test have an opportunity to create a long-term emotion connection with consumers. And those companies who provide true value find success even during disruption.

Why care? Research shows that customers are likely to mention a positive customer experience to an average of nine people, while they’re likely to tell 16 people about negative experiences. Bottom line, customers who enjoy positive experiences are likely to spend 140% more than customers who report negative experiences.

Incorporate Customer Appreciation in Your Marketing Strategy

Customer appreciation marketing is a proactive approach to engaging customers and showing them you care and are grateful for their business. This approach might include not only a company’s efforts toward its customers through expressions of thanks, but also meaningful apologies when needed. Having a solid customer appreciation strategy in place provides the foundation for increasing satisfaction, loyalty and retention. In fact, Professor John Gattorna at Macquarie Graduate School of Management found that 68% of customers that leave and go elsewhere do so because they feel the business doesn’t care about them anymore.

It’s a shocking statistic especially when you consider that only 14% will leave because they’re dissatisfied with the service—meaning they are five times more likely to leave because they think you’re indifferent to them than because of delays, mistakes or other types of ‘bad’ service.

What’s more, 91% of customers who are unhappy with a brand will just leave without complaining, and 56% of people around the world have stopped doing business with a company because of a poor customer service experience.

Imagine leaving these interactions to chance, instead of implementing an effective customer appreciation strategy to show customers you care? Appreciation is the thought process that will truly differentiate companies who embrace it. As I mentioned on my LinkedIn blog, I learned long ago from Simple Minds’ classic song that people long to be recognized and demand “don’t you forget about me.”

Give Customers a Reason to Stay

Many companies are considering the future of customer experience and actions to accommodate changes. But the future is already here. New consumer types have sprung up around the globe. Being innovative in this “new world” and finding a way to stay relevantly connected will be the game changer.

“It’s easier to love a brand when the brand loves you back.” —Seth Godin

Now is the time to get creative and experiment with ways to authentically invest in your customers relationship:

1. Hook Existing Customers with Innovating Campaigns with Enticing Prizes
For example, Coors Light gave away $1 million worth of beer—or, roughly 500,000 cold ones—through its #CouldUseABeer campaign, which allowed people to send a beer to someone “who could use a bit of refreshment.” 

2. Host a Facebook or Instagram Live Video
This lets your customers know where the company is going and what’s happening next. 

Chaco moved their cross-country tour program to social media, launching weekly Instagram Stories takeovers (“CHILLOuts”) by featured experts who served up tips on leveraging mindfulness at home like ways to reduce stress and the benefits of being a “plant parent.”
3. Consider Swag Sponsorships
Having tie-ins with other businesses and conducting shared promotions mean bringing in their customers over to your enterprise.
When a wine festival had to go virtual, the event’s sponsor (an association of regional automobile dealers) got its logo on a “hang tag” that was put on a wine bottle sent to every attendee, which invited the attendee to bring that tag to the closest dealer for a test drive. In return, the virtual attendee would then be entered into a drawing for four tickets to the actual rescheduled face-to-face festival.
4. Send Them a Little Something
Small simple gestures often don’t cost much, when you compare them to the lifetime value of a loyal customer (who, evidence suggests, are worth 10x their initial purchase).
5. Make Customers Feel Like They’re Your Only Customer
Surprise-and-delight experiences will humanize the brand. You can do this by helping customers get access to otherwise unattainable experiences and making sure you hit the touchpoints in their lives that matter, not just the big brand moments—even if you automate them.
There are many different ways, both simple and creative, a brand can utilize to make customers feel like you care. And sometimes showing you care means saying you’re sorry.

Customer Apologies Can Be Hard, But Necessary When Warranted

Apologies can be tricky; using gratitude, empathy and kindness can go a long way. A study from the Nottingham School of Economics found that customers are twice as likely to forgive companies who apologize. And check out these examples:
  • Exceeding the standard timeframe for apologies, the Financial Times reported Wells Fargo took the time to imagine how their customers felt after they experienced unexpected delays in refinancing their mortgage. They decided to take the bold step of actually apologizing for longer than usual timeframes to process loans due to unprecedented volumes caused by sharp interest rate decline. The innovative program apologized with a sincere note from a senior executive that included the right message and a small gift.
  • A leading pest control company leveraged an apology gift offer to customers that terminated contracts due to service issues. Again, putting themselves in the place of their customers, they were able to turn an otherwise poor experience into a chance at sustaining a long-term customer. This well received program not only retained valuable profitable customers but also generated a 9 to 1 ROI.
The value of positive experience cannot be denied. As you work to address business issues the current crisis is causing, be sure to keep the consumer in mind. They are looking hard at those brands who take care of them during these challenging times. And they’ll show their appreciation through continued loyalty and spending.
To begin instilling a customer service mentality across your organization, clearly define those great service elements, then apply them. Creating a successful customer experience strategy relies on interdependency across different teams and functional groups—What Are You Doing to Inspire a Customer Service Mentality Company-wide?
John Michel
John Michel

John began his marketing and sales career three decades ago with two of the most admired companies—Disney and Mars Inc., learning the lessons of world-class branding initiatives and best practices of marketing initiatives. Before long he was applying this knowledge and expertise toward helping other Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies develop the right strategies to drive business results and achieve success. He enjoys the relationships that have grown out of service. John’s earned numerous industry and professional awards, acknowledgements and recognition over his career, and has been an active on numerous local, state and national boards. In his journey of continuous improvement, he pushed past all rational limitations and walked barefoot across 1,000-degree hot coals—twice! A symbolic experience that has given him the courage to take on any challenge.