The concept of a “Customer Appreciation Week” has become increasingly popular among many companies today. On the surface, it certainly seems like a good idea: An entire week set aside for showing your customers how much you appreciate their business. Yet, at the same time, one must wonder: Shouldn't we be taking care of our customers throughout the year instead of just during one week out of the year?
It can be fairly easy to take standing customers for granted. When things are always fine with a customer’s account, you probably never feel compelled to change the status quo. After all, why fix something if it isn’t broken?
The answer to that question is actually quite simple. That status quo may not have changed, but the customer’s access to information has changed. Customers today are able to access vast amounts of information via social media and the Internet. As a result, customers have become more educated, and the more educated a customer is, the more accessible alternative options become.
Whether you realize it or not, this rapidly increasing access to information places you at risk for losing what you may have previously deemed to be a solid customer. What can you do to stay ahead of the competition and make sure you do not lose a valued and longstanding customer? Let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take to ensure your clients are appreciated throughout the year.
It’s a story as old as business. In order to survive, you must continually innovate. Unfortunately, most companies tend to place the highest value on new sales. There is no doubt that new sales are vital to your company, but you should never place so much focus on new clients that you run the risk of losing existing clients. One of the best steps that you can take to provide your current clients with the attention they deserve is to regularly analyze those business relationships and determine what you can do to make improvements. For instance, is there anything that you can do to ensure that your customers get the best deal possible? Are there any new products or services from which your customers could benefit? Would your organization be willing to offer a loyalty discount? Also, consider ways in which you can provide improved service to your customers. Perhaps your organization can sponsor a seminar or become involved in a charity that your customers support.
Educate Yourself about the Competition
You should never find yourself in a situation in which you do not find out about the competition until you have lost an existing client to that competitor. You must make a point of staying abreast of the competition, or you may find yourself caught unawares. At the same time, educate yourself about the potential value that the competition could provide to your customer as well as the value position that your company holds. If you are not prepared to have conversations with your customer regarding what makes your products and services superior, you can be certain that your competitor will.
Educate Yourself about Your Customers’ Industries
Customers need to know that you truly understand their needs. After all, how can you meet their needs if you do not understand them? By staying on top of your customers’ industries, including changing trends, you can position yourself to better understand their needs and develop solutions to meet those needs. Conducting research and reading up on a customer’s industry does take time, but it is time that is well spent. Not only will your customers appreciate the time and effort that you have taken to become informed about their industries, but this knowledge will also serve you well in the future.
Instituting a Customer Appreciation Week has its place, but it should never take the place of ensuring that your customers feel appreciated throughout the year. By continually innovating, staying abreast of your customers’ changing industry trends, and staying on top of the competition, you can ensure that your relationships with your customers do not become stale.