Saying “thank you” can be incredibly powerful – especially in business. Demonstrating client appreciation can help to improve your working relationship with your clients, as well as increase client loyalty, affinity, and retention.
The ROI of client retention is significant – the cost of bringing on a new customer or client is estimated to be 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Similarly, in financial services, it is estimated that increasing retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%.
Source: Bain & Company, Inc.
As such, improving your client experience in order to increase client retention should be a huge area of focus at your firm. A key ingredient in client retention is showing appreciation, and demonstrating client appreciation effectively means taking action.
Harnessing the power of “thank you”
As much as client appreciation will benefit you and your firm, it’s important to remember that you’ll never capture the full power of saying “thank you” if you’re not genuinely appreciative of your clients.
When expressing gratitude, be sure to:
- Be specific – Some would say general “thank yous” are better than showing no appreciation at all; however, it’s always a good idea to be specific as to what you’re thanking your client for.
- Be consistent – It’s easy to leverage Thanksgiving for showing appreciation, but don’t limit your gratitude to specific holidays or occasions. Make it part of your day-to-day.
- Enjoy showing appreciation – If you think of saying “thank you” as something you have to do, or something you’re doing just to be polite, your appreciation won’t come across as genuine.
We're living in what I like to call the Thank You Economy, because only the companies that can figure out how to mind their manners in a very old-fashioned way – and do it authentically – are going to have a prayer of competing.
The beauty of cloud accounting technology is that you can serve clients far and wide. However, this often means that you serve several remote clients and don’t get much in-person face time. In an age where client experience is a key differentiator and personalization is expected, it’s worth brainstorming ways to go above and beyond when showing client appreciation.
How to demonstrate client appreciation
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, take inspiration from the ideas below! You might already be taking some of these actions to a certain degree, but look for ways in which you can further delight your clients.
1. Always make the time for appreciation
Quick example: after some Broadway shows, the actors will take the time to meet audience members at the stage door. The actors certainly aren’t obliged to do this, but doing so demonstrates gratitude to their audience. It also improves the audience’s experience because they get to meet the performers they admire – it’s a win-win.
As a business partner, your job is to serve your clients and provide advice. However, it’s just as important to go the extra mile and take the time to show appreciation.
2. Actively listen (and take notes)
Active listening is crucial for improving client relationships and building client trust. It can also help you to better demonstrate appreciation.
Ask questions and take notes on even the smallest of details – for instance, do they enjoy a particular hobby? Did they mention they’re moving or going on an exciting vacation? Following up on seemingly insignificant details shows that you value their business. Having these types of notes can also help you come up with creative "thank you" gift ideas when necessary (see below).
3. Celebrate milestones
Your clients’ success is your success, so celebrate milestones together! On that note, setting goals shows that you’re invested in your client’s future. Acknowledge your clients’ hard work and celebrate when you achieve these goals together.
4. Give them a shout-out
For digitally savvy clients, a shout-out on social media platforms can mean a lot. Or, if you’re giving a presentation, look for ways you can feature your clients’ stories. Be sure to ask for your client’s approval before sharing their story – even if they can’t be part of it (e.g., for confidentiality reasons), they’ll be flattered that you asked.
5. Make a personalized video
Accountants and bookkeepers who operate on the cloud likely already leverage video communication with their clients. Use this medium to add a personal touch when sending messages of gratitude.
6. Start a referral network
Do you know someone who could benefit from one of your clients' products or services? Be on the lookout for opportunities to make connections within your network. Enabling these types of business connections is one of the most impactful ways to show appreciation and acknowledgement.
7. Be there when it matters most
The most important factor in a client’s loyalty is reducing their effort. As such, there’s no better way to foster loyalty through appreciation than by being there when they need it most. One fun example of this is Unbounce’s Holiday Hours campaign, in which they enable their clients to continue doing great work by confirming their support team's availability during the busy holiday season.
It’s also important to show them that you’ll be there during the tough times, too. Prepare your client for every eventuality, ensure (and communicate) your availability, and be prepared to help them should the unexpected occur.
Source: Harvard Business Review
8. Send "thank you" gifts
Sending a gift is an empty gesture if the “thank you” behind it is not truly genuine. However, gifts are proven to be an important part of successful customer loyalty (in fact, a 2013 study by Citrus and Directivity found that 67% of those surveyed said surprise gifts are very important for loyalty programs).
Besides, who doesn’t like receiving an unexpected, thoughtful gift every now and then? Here are a few tried-and-tested ideas:
- Spa gift cards
- Donations and charitable gifts
- Gift cards for coffee and/or lunch
- Baked goods (Pictured below: a cake we received from Xero after launching Hubdoc’s Xero HQ integration. It was delicious!)
Here are a few unconventional "thank you" gift ideas (if you're looking for something a bit more creative):
- Board games (We recommend Forbidden Island, Exploding Kittens, and Trick Question.)
- Lottery scratch tickets (An easy gift, but beware the caveats.)
- A subscription box (Find some ideas here.)
- Unique customized gifts (Get some neat ideas on Uncommon Goods.)
Improve your client experience through authentic appreciation
There are many ways to express gratitude. The important thing is that you show client appreciation consistently and genuinely, and that you enjoy doing so. Only then will you reap the rewards of saying "thank you" and provide a better client experience.
Are you leveraging cloud technology to provide amazing client experiences? Apply to be a Hubdoc Top 50 Cloud Accountant of 2017!
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