The best gift you can give your customers consists of two words: Thank you.
According to a new study from Michigan State University (MSU), satisfied customers who were acknowledged by a company president for filling out a satisfaction survey increased their patronage to the business by more than 50 percent.
“Sweetening the pot with rewards really didn’t matter,” said Clay Voorhees, MSU associate professor of marketing and lead author of the study. “These findings suggest that simple, sincere gestures are enough to drive feelings of gratitude among consumers.”
Voorhees and his colleagues focused their study on restaurant customers, tracking their visits for 12 months after a thank-you email was sent from the company president upon completion of a satisfaction survey. They found that repeat visits increased 50 percent for men and 57 percent for women.
“In the restaurant industry, where 5 percent is a big deal, 50 percent blew our minds,” Voorhees said.
Also, the size of a customer’s party increased, with an increase of 79 percent for women and 42 percent for men.
“So it wasn’t just that they came back,” he said. “They came back and brought more people with them.”
The key is not to send an immediate automated response.
“Delaying the acknowledgement is critical to ensure it comes across as being more personal and sincere,” Voorhees said.