Like clockwork, when we turn our calendars to the month of November, it’s as if there’s something in the air that prompts us to be thankful. And thankfulness so often touches on a range of topics — including things like personal health and wellbeing.
But then, it’s only natural that our thoughts also extend to those in our lives that we’re thankful for. That list is likely comprised of friends and family and sometimes even our beloved pets (they’re family too!).
Thank you, Customer!
For anyone who works at a company that has customers, whether you directly interact with them or not, this is the season to appreciate them, too. If we heed the wise words of Legendary Management Professor, Peter Drucker when he says, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer,” we do indeed owe our customers a debt of gratitude.
It’s with this in mind that I turned to the customer experience (CX) community for advice on how to truly thank customers. During the daily Customer Experience Question of the Day (CXQOTD) on November 1, I asked, “How can you tell customers that you appreciate them?”
The responses didn’t disappoint. As I explored the various suggested ways to appreciate our customers, two major themes emerged: Show and Tell.
Actually, it’s more like tell and show — so as not to be confused with the grade-school activity of bringing a favorite object to school and telling your classmates about it.
It’s critical that we BOTH tell AND show our customers that we’re thankful for them. In the remainder of this article, I’ll share the variety of ways we can effectively thank our customers.
5 ways to TELL your customers “Thank you”
Nick Glimsdahl put it most succinctly in his response to my question when he said “Tell them!!!” And I couldn’t agree more. We need to tell customers that we’re thankful for them as much as we possibly can. But what are some of the best ways to do this? Here’s a list:
1. Send a thank you note
Think about the last time a company sent you a note of thanks just for being their customer. Those occurrences are probably pretty rare. But, as Stacy Sherman says, “A personalized, handwritten note goes a long way.” And it need not be a huge expense. Consider sending a postcard with a few sentences of gratitude. This requires a few minutes of your time and less than a dollar to send and can go a long way with your customers.
2. Call a customer
Customers already know they can contact your company for support, and depending on your business, they know someone may call trying to sell them something. We all love that, right?
That’s why, as Debbie Szumylo comments, “A call out of the blue to tell them they are appreciated” will go a long way. Try calling a customer with no ulterior motives other than to say “I appreciate you.” If you’re looking for additional topics to discuss, take a moment to ask, “How has your experience been?” I’ll bet some will give you valuable feedback on how to improve your product or service. (We’ll talk more about this later in the article)
If you’re looking for a good way to tell customers that you appreciate them, Sean Hawkins once worked with a contact center agent who said, “Thank you for your partnership and business. Without you, we wouldn’t be here.” Whatever it is you say to the customer, Tanuj Diwan adds that we must always “be genuinely appreciative.”
3. Shower customers with gifts
You can even take the appreciation a step further and send gifts to your customers — and if you can swing it, try sending a gift with no strings attached. A marketing promotion like a coupon or discount to get customers to purchase more service, may not always be perceived as a gift.
Instead, MentalMarketer recommends to “surprise and delight them with personalized gifts.” Personalization is key here. If you understand individual customer needs, habits, and preferences, you can tailor the gift specifically to them.
If you need an occasion for gifts, what better idea than to send customers a birthday gift? Boss Lady Consult says it “doesn’t need to be anything big. We’ve seen clients offer as little as a song of their choice from iTunes.” I know I’m always partial to my free birthday beverage from Starbucks.
Finally, if you’re looking to scale this customer appreciation, why not encourage and empower your customer support team? “Allow agents the ability to give discounts, rewards, gift cards, and more,” suggests Sean Hawkins.
4. Feature customers in your marketing and social media
Another way to show gratitude, says Rick Denton, is to “feature the customer on your marketing and social media.” This is a terrific idea on a few different levels. First, this gives customers valuable facetime with your company — connecting them to humans as opposed to a faceless brand. Second, in the case of a small business, they may greatly appreciate and benefit from any help in building and growing their online brand.
Finally, David Beaumont recommends that we “have a customer spotlight where the customer gets to talk.” I think of the way we’re able to celebrate those customers doing cool things on the Featured Customers section of our company blog.
5. Throw a party
David went on to suggest throwing customers a “big appreciation party.” This is a great idea, especially in a business-to-business (B2B) setting. It’s great to wine and dine your customers — but don’t stop there. Also consider giving them something of value like an inspiring speaker, workshop, or the opportunity to collaborate with other customers.
What a great list of ways to tell customers that you appreciate them. I’m curious to hear which of these ideas you’ve implemented at your company. Now, let’s talk about how we show our appreciation.
3 ways to SHOW your customers “Thank you”
When faced with my question of ways to appreciate customers, Scott Ontiveroz astutely remarked, “Maybe it’s a bit cliche, but ‘actions speak louder than words’ rings true here.” Indeed it does! Let’s talk about three ways we can show appreciation to our customers with our actions.
1. Listen to customer feedback
The first step to showing customers that you’re thankful for them is to listen to them. We’d best heed this advice from Leslie O’Flahavan:
“You can show customers you appreciate them by listening to them closely and reading their words closely. People just want to be heard. Listening (or reading) is the most intimate, affirming thing you can do for anyone, including customers.”
When it comes to listening to customers, That CX Guy points out that we can “Ask for more feedback” whether it’s during conversations with customers or via feedback surveys. But there are also plenty of ways to listen to our customers without asking them for feedback.
2. Use feedback to continuously improve
Once you’ve heard from your customers, it’s time to take that feedback and put it into action. That CX Guy says to use customer feedback to “Deliver more value.” Fix bugs, add features, and ultimately make the product or service better.
Craig Stoss states that “actioning feedback and saying thank you to those who gave you the feedback is the ultimate appreciation.” When you do take action based on customer feedback, be sure to “let them know that the reason you took action is because you appreciate them. You value their feedback and the relationship” adds Jim Bass.
In a world where we’re so accustomed to offering feedback to companies and hearing crickets in response, the act of implementing their feedback and then closing the loop with them is essential.
3. Be consistent and reliable
Roy Atkinson reminds us to get back to the basics and “provide good service.” Neal Dlin expands on this when he says: “Consistency can go farther than transactional appreciation. A cool thank you wanes. Consistency doesn’t. Because it’s much harder so it demonstrates true appreciation.”
Consistently great service is the end result of continuously listening to customers and implementing their feedback. Customers don’t expect perfection, but this practice shows that we value their business and want to keep it for the long haul.
Care for the people caring for customers
Finally, whether we’re telling or showing our customers that we appreciate them, all of these actions will be carried out by our employees. The act of first telling and showing your employees that you appreciate them will directly impact the quality and sincerity of the gratitude shown to your customers.
Cultivating care and concern for your employees will have a lasting impact on both your customers and your company culture. There are countless ways you can show appreciation to your employees — and we’ll be sure to expand on that later.
In the meantime, are there any ways you creatively appreciate your customers? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Creating meaningful connections with our customers is central to NumberBarn’s mission. THANK YOU for being a valued member of our NumberBarn community, and for all you do to show gratitude for your customers.