Make sure you appreciate your clients and tell them often. Use personalized salutations and more.

Albert Pujols reminds me of my ninth-grade girlfriend, Susie Wallace. Susie and I had just finished a slow dance at the mixer when she broke the news: She was dumping me for Stevie O’Shea.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because he appreciates me,” she said. And then she strolled across the dance floor, grabbed Stevie’s hand and walked out of the gym without looking back.

“But I do appreciate you,” I mumbled. Too late.

I thought I had erased that brutal scene from my memory. But it all came back when Albert signed with the Angels. Sure, the Angels’ $254 million offer seems irresistible. But Albert claims he might have taken less money if the Cardinals had appreciated him more.

“But we do appreciate you, Albert,” Cardinals’ management said. Too late.

Albert and Susie have me wondering: How’s your relationship with your customers? Do you appreciate them? If not, brace yourself. They might bolt to Anaheim or run to Lover’s Lane with Stevie O’Shea.

Customers break up with businesses for various reasons. A vast majority of them will bolt when they feel unappreciated, perceive indifference or simply forget about the previous business. In fact, many will forgive a service slight or tolerate a slightly inferior product – as long as they feel appreciated. That’s why you need a customer appreciation communication plan – before it’s too late.

Whether you communicate by email, snail mail, social media or some other medium, here are four tips to guide your customer appreciation plan:

1. Stay in touch – at least monthly. If you don’t have an email or print newsletter, you need to launch one.

2. Educate and entertain. If all you do is pitch products, your customers will tune out. In its emails and Facebook posts, Honda promotes products, but it also shares helpful tips. Pitches say, “Here’s what I’m selling.” Tips say, “I appreciate you.”

3. Be interactive. Let customers post on social media, in online surveys, in comments on your blog. Thank them for praise. Thank them for constructive criticism. Show them you’re listening. Appreciate their feedback, and they’ll appreciate you.

4. Get personal. Use personalized salutations in your emails. Tailor your content and special offers to specific audiences. Don’t send everything to everybody. If you run a pet store, send dog grooming tips and coupons for dog accessories to dog lovers. Take the same approach for the cat lovers. The more you tailor content to customers’ interests, the more you say, “I know you and appreciate you.” They’ll feel the same.



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