As the year draws to a close, it’s natural to start thinking about gratitude — holiday travel, social media feeds full of “things I’m thankful for” and, of course, Thanksgiving has its moment in the spotlight (briefly, before holiday shopping steals it away again).
For many of us, the first thing that comes to mind when we think about gratitude is our personal life — how thankful we are for our friends, family and the many blessings in our lives. But how about making it a point to acknowledge and appreciate those in our business lives, too?
Actively expressing gratitude to your customers offers positive benefits for them and you. On a philosophical level, our society desperately needs more positivity and kindness, and on a personal level, scientists have found that gratitude makes the giver and the recipient healthier and happier.
But one of the most practical reasons to make being thankful for your customers’ habit is that it’s arguably the best marketing strategy of all. You can have the best product or service on the planet, but unappreciated customers are likely to be lured away by competitors. In a marketplace bursting with competition, loyalty is a currency that must be earned over time by building true partnerships and by creating a culture of showing appreciation to your customers from the inside out with every interaction.
Authenticity is key
Sincere appreciation is something that’s baked into your customer experience at every level and with every touchpoint. It’s a nice gesture to send gift baskets or cookies to your customers at holiday time — but if it’s followed up with slow delivery, mediocre service or an apathetic attitude during the rest of the year, that’s not true gratitude.
Another way to show appreciation is to offer something of value without strings attached. Whether it’s a kind comment on social media, a customer appreciation event, or relevant information and thought leadership provided by white papers and webinars, actions that indicate customer importance will foster loyalty.
I’m fortunate (and grateful) to work for a company that takes being thankful for our clients (and employees) very seriously, and measures it with tools like regular customer service surveys and the Net Promoter Score.
Building long-term relationships based on authentic appreciation is a core part of our corporate identity. This kind of mindset grows when the tone is set at the top, so if you’re a company leader, make it a point during this holiday season to think about ways you can infuse your entire organization with an “attitude of gratitude.”
As VP of finance company markets for State National Companies, Mark Baltuska leverages 25 years of industry experience to work with finance company professionals to understand their portfolio risk challenges and help them find solutions. State National Companies, a division of Markel Corp., is the Customer Experience partner of Auto Finance Excellence (AutoFinanceExcellence.org), a sister service of Auto Finance News.