Seven Ways to Reward Your Customers and Improve Your CRM

by Jennifer Schiff
Seven Ways to Reward Your Customers and Improve Your CRM

Business owners and CRM experts reveal how rewarding customers can be a very rewarding experience.

When it comes to customer relationship management (CRM), it truly is better to give than to receive. As several CRM experts and business owners Enterprise Apps Today spoke with revealed, businesses that go the extra mile by rewarding customers — with top-notch customer service, discounts or gifts — are often rewarded with repeat business and new customers.

Herewith are seven ways to reward your customers and improve your customer relations and loyalty — and sales — in the process.

Shine the spotlight on your customers. "Whether it's posted on your website, blog or on a bulletin board in your shop, people love to be recognized for what they do," said Michelle Riggen-Ransom, chief communications offer and a co-founder of BatchBlue Software.

That's why free online financial life planning and management service Adaptu.com "features top contributors and participants right on our home page," said Mark Brundage, co-founder of Adaptu.com.

"Highlighting your most active customers and making them feel special is one of the best ways to increase your top customers' loyalty and make them feel part of the brand — and create an advocate for your business," he added. And when customers feel passionate about your business, they are far more likely to recommend it to other people. So next time you hear or are sent a great customer story or testimonial, not only enter it into your CRM system, but also share it online (getting the customer's permission first) and be sure to thank the customer.

Provide an experience, not just service. "Have your customer service team do more than just answer questions," said Riggen-Ransom. "Have them play an active part in educating and empowering your customers on how to best to use your product via webinars, one-on-one startup sessions, or writing blog posts." And make sure to keep track of previous learning sessions and materials shared via your CRM system so you can be sure you are offering customers new — and valuable — information.

Follow up with customers. "Whether it's touching base after a conference or using your CRM system to track when and how you met someone, stay in touch," said Riggen-Ransom. If a customer had a problem with a product and you sent them a replacement, follow up with them to make sure the replacement worked out. Similarly, when you meet with customers at trade shows, conferences and events, send a follow-up note letting them know you enjoyed chatting with them — and answering any questions they may have asked you.

Give presents. Who doesn't like getting presents? "No one, that's who," said Riggen-Ransom. That's why last Christmas, PhotoArts Imaging Professionals of Hattiesburg, Miss., sent clients who had ordered 4" x 6" holiday cards a free mousepad in which they could insert their holiday card or a similar-sized photo. "It was a nice gesture that folks really appreciated," noted Kim Du Boise, the president of PhotoArts Imaging Professionals. And small gestures like that really help build brand loyalty.

By the way it's not just retail customers who appreciate gifts. B2B customers love gifts too. Per Riggen-Ransom, BatchBlue receives a lot of great swag — including chocolates from Electionbuddy, popcorn from Formstack, t-shirts from MailChimp and a big box of cool promotional stuff from SilkWorm — from business partners. And those gifts don't go unnoticed. Each time BatchBlue receives — or sends — a gift, it records the information in its CRM system and acknowledges the gift. Two things every company should be doing.


Reward customers for their time with points or discounts or cash back. American Express Israel, for example, worked with social CRM vendor FanGager to provide customers with reward points for things like opting in to their newsletter, taking surveys, registering for American Express's global shopping service, and other CRM-related activities.

"CRM has the potential to take fan engagement to a whole new level," noted Eran Gefen, founder and CEO of FanGager. "The long-term benefit of engagement activities such as surveys and other incentive driving contests with social CRM platforms ... is that brands gain a cohesive database of customers based on involvement and social media interactions. These conversations can help brands track behavior, sentiment and even reward those fans that are involved most with the brand, creating loyal brand ambassadors who will potentially share positive experiences with their own social media network."

Create a referral program. What's mightier than a CRM system? Word of mouth advertising. And a great way to spread the word about your business is to ask customers to refer you to their friends and family — and reward them for it.

At Avidian Technologies, "customers who become referral partners can earn a referral bonus for referring prospects to us," said Warren Stokes, Avidian's vice president of sales. The program works by first using CRM "to capture and track customers as potential referral partners. Once they become customers we use [our] CRM's Workflow Automation to follow up with those customers after the sale. This rewards the customer by providing enhanced customer service and also by giving them the opportunity to earn referral fees by becoming a referral partner."

Similarly, PhotoArts Imaging Professionals created a Client Reward Card referral system to reward customers for their patronage. When a client picks up or is shipped their completed work, along with a letter of thanks for their business, they receive a couple of Client Reward cards, good for 120 days from the date on the card, that they can pass along with their name as the referrer. "Then when the referral job is completed and paid for, the referring client gets a credit for a percentage of the total job referral price (less taxes and shipping), which they can then use on any services they want performed during the year," said Du Boise.

Be a good listener. "Don't be afraid to get social with your customer service, and leverage the power of your CRM to do it," said Riggen-Ransom. "Customers are now communicating in a variety of places. Find out where your customers spend their time. Then use tools like Batchbook, HootSuite or Radian6 to monitor what people are saying about your company in social media spaces like Twitter, on blogs, on Facebook, Yelp or LinkedIn. Very quickly you'll realize what products, services or features your customers yearn for, and you'll be able to reward them with it."

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a regular contributor to Enterprise Apps Today and runs a marketing communications firm focused on helping small and mid-sized businesses.

  This article was originally published on Friday Jul 1st 2011
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