One of the most important communications between you and your business clients is a sincere expression of gratitude. It seems so obvious, yet in our transactional business world, a simple “thank you” is often overlooked.
A failure to show your clients or customers that you appreciate them is a missed opportunity to further cement your business relationship with them and build customer loyalty.
Surveys show that 96 percent of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Loyal customers are five times more likely to purchase again and four times more likely to refer a friend to the company. On top of this, a five-percent increase in customer retention can increase your company’s profitability by 75 percent.
Take a moment and reflect on these statistics. Then, ask yourself “what does gratitude have to do with customer service?”
The answer is everything. When your clients consistently receive top-level service from your business, you are building a loyal client base and their reasons for leaving are fewer. The best way to show your clients you appreciate their business is to give them what they expect, and then some, on-time, every time. In other words, gratitude is the key to retaining your existing clients, and your existing clients are generally a much easier sell than mining for new ones.
You can start expressing your gratitude by making commitments to your client that extend well past the current transaction. Keep the communication regular and solidify that long-term relationship. Consider engaging in team-building activities to create cohesiveness with all relevant members of your team and theirs. Or you might simply arrange meetings with your key client decision-makers on a face-to-face basis at regular (or spontaneous) intervals. When face-to-face is not an option, why not try the “virtual lunch” and share a relaxing meal over Zoom. You might be surprised how often random chat can lead to business opportunities.
Remember too, that your entire team are ambassadors for your brand. Every one of them must be encouraged to keep in touch, listen, and acknowledge the needs and issues of your current clients. How many times have you encountered a situation where you or a team member are too busy to make the time to respond, or don’t want to address a matter that’s clearly pressing for the person on the other side of the email? Making the effort to acknowledge the contact, respectfully following up, or being politely responsive even if you don’t have the answer are all behaviors influenced by gratitude.
We all expect our efforts to be at least acknowledged, if not appreciated, in some form or another. It’s just good business, let alone a basic human social practice, to express appreciation for other people’s time and input. Being thankful is a sign of respect. Such a simple gesture, yet so many of us fail to follow up or acknowledge the good that others do for us. Be present and accountable in responding to contacts, following up with teammates, or acknowledging your partners in business. Returning calls, being prompt, or acknowledging an email, even if it’s just to say “I’m swamped but will get back to you in a couple of days” are all signs of respect. Unfortunately, respect is something in such short supply today.
Remember this: when you lead with gratitude, you put yourself in a position of being accountable to others. When you are accountable to others, the possibility that you will rationalize potentially bad behavior or blame someone else is reduced, because you personally need to step up and take responsibility. That accountability, and the respect and consistency that follow from it is what keeps your customers loyal.
Delivery of excellent customer service combined with expressions of gratitude for customer loyalty are powerful motivators for continuing your business relationships. From my experience, when you demonstrate gratitude to your clients, the likelihood of capturing their loyalty to your brand grows exponentially leading to repeat business and customers helping your business succeed.
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Originally posted on Forbes.com