It’s usually a moment of stillness and reflection that brings out the best of gratitude. Like Oliver Sacks in “Gratitude” or Wayne Dyer in “I can see clearly now”, looking back at our lives and how everything fell perfectly into place brings out a genuine, soul filling feeling of gratitude.
Being grateful for what we already have is a sure way to catapult us into becoming more, paradoxically all while always feeling like we are enough.
It’s not just in our personal lives that more gratitude helps us grow, but also in our businesses.
Gratitude doesn’t just make you happier, but it can also help you get more repeat customers and grow your business.
I didn’t start to truly experience gratitude until my son was born (and boy, do I still have a lot to learn!), but after a while I started thinking about how this practice can enhance our businesses as well, not just our lives.
Since I often help companies improve their customer retention and loyalty, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to get customers to make a second, third and many more purchases to come.
But I soon found that all the strategies I tested over time, all the data analysis and all the sophisticated technology in the world wouldn’t mean anything without this one ingredient: a genuine feeling of gratitude for our customers.
There's a prevalent business problem that made me write this post.
Many (sometimes most) customers don’t return for a second purchase. If your business is like most others out there, I’m guessing you lose somewhere between 40-70% of your customers after their first purchase.
The fact that first time customers don’t come back has a negative effect on your bottom line. Increasing retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
Businesses with strong retention rates are more profitable, last longer and don’t suffer through tough economic times.
It makes sense that businesses with strong customer relationships are more sought after for mergers and acquisitions. Strong customer relationships have a direct, positive impact on profits.
At the same time, research shows that people prefer familiar situations over non-familiar ones. It takes more effort to buy from a different company, instead of the one you purchased from in the past.
So, given that most people don’t take out their credit card thinking “After this one purchase, I’ll never again buy from this company!”, it’s fascinating that most of them don’t come back for a second purchase.
Why is that?
To unpack this question, let's first look at how customers decide to make a second purchase.
According to the psychological heuristic peak-end rule, people make decisions based on how they feel at the end of an experience.
Rationally, you’d think we look objectively at all the little moments that sum up the experience and then decide if the experience was worth it to return to or not, but people don’t make decisions rationally, they make them emotionally.
They’ll remember how they felt at the end of their experience, after they bought your product, and they’ll use that memory in the future, when they have to make a decision to buy again or not.
Combine the peak-end rule theory with the usual buyer remorse feelings that start appearing in a customer’s mind right after her/his purchase, and you’ll soon realize that we’ve got a real problem.
So, it follows logically that you should spend a lot of time thinking about how to make customers feel betterright after they buy something, not just before or later down the line.
Unfortunately, this is also the one point in the entire customer experience that’s overlooked by most companies.
Most times, the customer experience looks something like this:
- Prospect is “lured” to join the email list
- Prospect is “lured” to make the 1st purchase
- Customer receives order confirmation/ receipt
- Customer receives some emails, some generic, some targeted
- Some months later (when customer data says she’s ready to buy again), customer is “lured” to make a 2nd purchase
That peak point, that grand finale moment that customers will use to decide if they’ll buy again or not, is not addressed anywhere in the sequence above.
This is where our dear friend, gratitude elegantly walks in.
More gratitude for the people who’ve just made a purchase would quickly and effortlessly open the door for creating a mouthwatering experience at that peak moment.
It would be virtually impossible to not improve your customers’ experience at this point, right after the purchase ended, if you operate from a place of gratitude, instead of a place of constant frenzy running after the next sale.
When you repeatedly experience gratitude, you’ll start thinking differently about your customers. And when you start thinking differently, you’ll be amazed how much easier it will be to create strategies that keep your customers coming back again and again.
Deep down inside, we’re all grateful. But we quickly forget. That’s why it’s important to remind ourselves, and to practice gratitude.
That means intentionally allowing gratitude to sink in and to truly experience, practice and feel it, as opposed to just knowing that, yes, of course you’re grateful. Or taking a couple of minutes each day, to close your eyes, think about your customers and to simply say “thank you”.
When you start experiencing gratitude for your customers, you’ll want to start telling them Thank You inmeaningful ways.
We’ve established that how you treat your customers immediately after their purchase will help them decide if the experience they had is worth it for them to come back to. People get excited right before they buy something, while they wait until they use their product and when they use it for the first time.
But somewhere along this process they also start getting second thoughts and their excitement gradually diminishes. The more your customers' excitement diminishes, the lower the chance that they'll buy again from you in the future.
When you show them your appreciation, your customers will feel acknowledged for giving you their time and money.
This is a crucial moment in the relationship you're building with them, because it's the moment in which they're most vulnerable.
A genuine and heartfelt “thank you” message will make your customers feel better, while also helping you stand out among your competition.
As of right now, only a few businesses obsess over this post purchase moment.
Use your creativity and what you know about your customers to make this “thank you” moment truly meaningful for them. Some businesses send “thank you” cards in the mail; others express their gratitude through unexpected gifts. Choose what makes financial sense for your business model and your brand.
Zappos sometimes upgrades customers to faster shipping or unexpectedly gifts them. Ritz Carleton looks for authentic and mind blowing ways to create an unforgettable experience for its customers not just before and during their stay, but also after.
Gratitude will help you create a long lasting, pleasant memory for your customers.
They’ll remember the entire experience as a more pleasant one based on these peak moments, and they’ll be more likely to return for a second purchase.
You’ll also set the stage for a relationship, not a transaction.
Moreover, gratitude will also help you improve your customers’ experience at every point of the way, not just right after a purchase. It will help you become more aware of your customers, listen more, and take action accordingly.
When you feel grateful for your customers, you’ll also have more energy to propel your business forward.
Perhaps there were times when you felt lost or you felt discouraged to keep going. It’s not just you who wants and needs to grow your business, it’s also your customers. Feeling grateful for them will help you recharge your batteries and find new and profitable ways to grow your business.
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Cover image credit: Andreas Ronningen