Managing client relationships isn’t just about offering the best-quality products and services you can. It’s also about expressing appreciation, and making extra efforts to ensure those clients stick around. Showing client appreciation is an art, and an art worth learning if you care about client retention.
The best part? You don’t have to go all-out. There are options for every budget, and for every type of client.
Why Client Appreciation Is Worth It
Client appreciation demands an investment of both money and effort. So why is it worth it?
- Keeping the brand top-of-mind. Sending even a quick thank-you is a convenient way to keep your brand top-of-mind. The more time your customers spend thinking about your company, in even small ways, the more likely they’ll be to place new orders with you.
- Encouraging loyalty. Customer retention is always less expensive than customer acquisition. Sending thank-you messages and gifts is one way to persuade your clients to stay loyal to you, rather than experimenting with a competitor.
- Additional messaging. Any issue of gratitude you make also provides you with an additional opportunity for messaging, whether it’s announcing a new special, making a sale, or informing them about peripheral products and services you offer.
Levels of Appreciation
There are many levels of client appreciation you can show, from basic and inexpensive to extravagant. In ascending order of intensity, these are just a sampling of the options available to you:
- An in-person thank-you. If you’re meeting with a client, make sure to take the extra time to give them an in-person thank-you. Or if you’ve just finished a project, consider traveling to their office, saying hello, and offering your in-person thanks. This simple expression, when paired with the right body language and tone, can make someone’s day, and help them remember the positive experience of working with you.
- A thank-you email. An email may seem less effective or less personal than an in-person thank-you, but it requires more forethought, and gives you more opportunities for expansion. For example, you can personalize your message with highlights from your previous project, or include an attachment.
- A printed card. A custom-printed greeting card provides the best of both worlds; you’ll have plenty of time to think up a good message, and you’ll get the benefit of offering something tangible. Receiving something in the mail is always enjoyable, even if it’s something small, and once they receive it, your client will be unlikely to forget you. Just make sure to choose a unique design or say something memorable—generic messages aren’t going to cut it.
- Sending a gift. If you’re willing to spend a little more, consider sending a gift. The go-to option here is usually a muffin basket, flowers, or something similar, but if you want to really stand out from the competition, consider sending something original—preferably something that symbolizes your professional relationship, or something you know your client personally likes. The extra thought will go far in improving your brand’s memorability.
- Offering discounts and specials. You could also offer discounts and specials to your client, such as a free month of service, or a free bonus gift sent to them personally. The disadvantage here is that the freebie may not be as memorable as a standalone gift—but it might be more valuable. Consider your options carefully here.
- Enjoying lunches, dinners, and drinks. Next, you could take your client out for lunch, or for dinner, or for drinks after work. This is an important option because it not only allows you to give them a practical/financial benefit (the free meal), it also gives you the opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with them. That might mean going over details from the project in a retrospective analysis, or just making friendly small talk. But whatever it is, it’s going to be memorable.
- Throwing a party. If you have multiple clients to thank, or if you want to go all-out for one of your biggest clients, consider hosting a client appreciation party. Depending on the size and scope of this extravaganza, this can range from affordable to expensive, but if you’re taking this measure, you might as well go all-out. Client appreciation parties are a good chance to get to know your clients better on a personal level, and if word gets out about your parties, you might even win new clients in the process.
Consider showing appreciation for your clients at multiple levels, especially if they’re new, or if they’ve been with you for an extended period of time. Appreciation isn’t about how much you spend; it’s about how much you care, so take your time and put thought into your appreciation strategies. It’s bound to pay off in the end.