With the holidays fast approaching, most companies have already planned to thank their employees with monetary bonuses or gifts, but a successful business must remember to thank another key player—the customer.
So how important is customer appreciation? As it turns out, it’s vital. According to a study by the Rockefeller Group, 82 percent of customers will leave because they think you do not care about them. It’s important to make each customer feel like they are your only customer, which could lead to word-of-mouth referrals, increasing your sales.
Customer Service is Key
Showing customers gratitude is a key part of the sales experience that usually determines whether or not the customer will return for future purchases. According to Help Scout, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase and it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. This means that losing just one customer is costly, and it’s critical for businesses to put effort into making their customer experience top notch.
The good news for small businesses is that 80 percent of Americans agree that smaller companies place a bigger emphasis on customer service. And almost 9 out of 10 U.S. customers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer service experience.
Investing in your company’s customer service may take some time to plan and implement, but in the long run, it will pay off. Not only will you create a culture of gratitude, but it can also positively affect the business’s bottom line.
Start from the Top Down
To retain your customers and attract new ones, build a culture of gratitude in your company from the top down. Most organizations struggle with this concept. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, 65 percent of employees say they don’t feel appreciated at work.
“Too many people leave work every day thinking, ‘My boss doesn’t appreciate me,’” said Liz Jazwiec, author of Eat That Cookie!: Make Workplace Positivity Pay Off … For Individuals, Teams and Organizations. “When the majority of the people in a workplace feel this way, the overall environment is hugely impacted. Productivity decreases, turnover increases, and it can become very difficult to stay afloat, especially in a tough economy.”
Gratitude in the C-Suite
When Doug Conant became the CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, the company’s stock price was declining and according to Fast Company, it was the worst performer of all the major food companies in the world.
Conant was in a serious car accident in 2009, and while recovering in the hospital, he received many get-well notes from employees around the world. Journalist Janice Kaplan included Conant’s story in her yearlong effort to learn about the effects of gratitude and how to show it more in her own life. While employees could have felt obligated to send well wishes to Conant, it’s likely that they were genuine as the CEO had sent more than 30,000 handwritten thank you notes to his employees during his tenure.
As an added bonus during the creation of a culture of gratitude, Campbell Soup jumped ahead of S&P Food Group and the S&P 500 in 2009, according to Fast Company.
Other leaders have also begun to recognize the importance of gratitude, including Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Zuckerberg challenged himself to write one thank you note every day in 2014, according to the Washington Post.
Even though not every business manager or owner has the time or resources to make big gestures, there are a lot of other small ways to show appreciation to your employees. One example is when an employee puts in a lot of overtime.
“You don’t have to apologize that they worked,” Kaplan said. “We understand that that’s sometimes part of the job. But recognizing it, saying thank you, letting them know that it wasn’t for naught really can go a very far way.”
Building a culture of gratitude can feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but it can mean the difference between the success or failure of a company. Start with small, daily acts of appreciation, and soon, gratitude will become second nature.