As consumers become more and more disengaged with brands, what can companies do to help strengthen relationships and build more trust with their clients?
Customer engagement can take many forms, like special discounts, offers and VIP memberships, but these customer rewards must be tailored for individual business industries and clients. If you’re considering the implementation of a customer reward program, also be sure you have the time and commitment necessary. You may think it’s easy to quickly issue a customer discount, but customer engagement is not a one-time deal. It must be a consistent, well-planned and executed program.
Here are a few easy ways to encourage customer advocacy:
Serve as a Resource Provide channels/platforms where your clients can access thoughtful, industry relevant content. Share information on your company’s blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts that would be beneficial to your clients (e.g., how-to, tips and best practice articles).
Provide Incentives Coupons, discounts and free upgrades or services show both current and prospective clients that you want to thank them for their business. Many companies limit incentives to new clients, and this is a huge mistake. Current customers were once new clients, and they should be rewarded for their continued business and loyalty. Ensure that you have special offers for both groups of customers.
An added benefit of reward programs is that they often provide companies with details on customer behavior and buying patterns. This information helps companies better tailor their products/services and enhance their incentive programs.
Customer Appreciation or Networking Events Customer appreciation or networking events are great vehicles to celebrate your clients and show that you are grateful for their business. This provides a forum to interact with your clients outside of a conference room and build on your current working relationship. Plus, complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres don’t hurt either!
Creativity A few months ago, I received the Steve Jobs biography with a handwritten note from a potential vendor. While I wasn’t seeking this service at the time, I scheduled a meeting to learn more based on the sheer creativity of this gentleman’s approach. (He also did his homework before sending the book and referenced our mutual alma mater, Rutgers.) Ingenuity is definitely part of the “I” in ROI!
Collecting Customer Feedback One of the best ways to reward customers is to listen to their feedback and finesse your product or service accordingly to increase the overall customer experience. By obtaining product evaluation information (e.g., user groups), you are not only enhancing your product/service, you are building sustaining relationships.
Say “Thank You.” This may sound like a no-brainer, but when was the last time you received a handwritten thank-you note from someone with whom you conduct business? Most hard-copy correspondence I receive these days comes in the form of a bill, so surprise your customers with a simple thank-you letter to let them know they are truly valued.
The primary goal of a customer reward program is to create a partnership with your clients and to demonstrate your commitment to serving them in the best possible way. It’s very easy for customers to switch to another provider, so the above tips will hopefully help create increased customer satisfaction … and sales.