Do You Have an Ideal Customer Appreciation Budget?
Guest Post by Andrew Lisa
Customer appreciation can range from an owner sending out a few handwritten cards around the holidays every year, all the way up to a business having an entire department or team dedicated to customer outreach. Either way, letting your customers know that you appreciate their business and that you know they could take it elsewhere has been one of the cornerstones of successful business since time immemorial. Budgeting for customer outreach can be tough, because there really isn't a boilerplate template to follow that can be applied to any business. Likewise, job-seekers should apply the concept of appreciation to those inviting them in for interviews. Appreciation most often makes the day.
As with any aspect of financial planning, using the right budgeting tools can be the difference between getting it right and either over-spending or not committing enough to get the job done. The right software can help you decide whether you're over-spending or not spending enough to meet your current needs. Getting the program that gives you the most options with the least amount of confusion – and, of course, the lowest price – is the first and best move you can make.
Financial Tracking Software
Financial tracking software is for more than just tracking revenue and loss. Good financial software – which, like Mint and Outright, can be free and web-based – can give you a yardstick to measure what you have versus what you need in your customer appreciation budget.
One of the best things about smart budgeting tools is their ability to let you break your customer-appreciation budget down into categories – and subcategories. The more compartmentalized your customer-outreach budget is, the more clearly you'll be able to see its flaws and shortcomings, as well as what's working.
Review, Review, Review
Like the Constitution, your customer-outreach budget is a living, breathing document. Yes, it's based on solid, unbending principles, but it must be designed under the assumption that, as circumstances change, so must it. The best thing you can do to keep any customer appreciation budget within the bounds of what you need versus what you can afford is to go back and revisit it frequently.
Reaching out to your customers to let them know you appreciate their patronage – especially if they're recurring customers – is to let them know that you understand you have competition, and that you're happy they chose you over them. Like most aspects of your business, customer outreach requires strict budgeting. Making and sticking to a budget requires discipline, commitment, and a bit of creativity. If you can keep your customers coming back, however, wasn't it all worth it?
Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about small business management and finance.
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