How much chocolate does it take to show appreciation?

It seems like there have been a few aha moments during the past recession about the importance of customers. I think the most commonly offered nugget of advice I’ve seen countless times over the past few years has been “since the chips are down, and you’re not acquiring as many customers, focus on the ones you have.” On Friday I benefited from this advice in the form of a lovely surprise from my mobile carrier, O2, in the post. It was a brief thank you note, and a bar of Divine’s socially conscious chocolate. Simple, cheap, and you know what – it works! I feel appreciated. That’s all I’m usually after as a customer. Beyond the nuts and bolts of the product and the transaction, appreciate me! Appreciate that there are many, many other options out there, many of which are calling me at random intervals during the year and asking me to switch.  I would like acknowledgement and thanks for choosing YOU (insert your chosen vendors here) to do business with. So thank you O2, for thanking me.

The gift I received from O2: Divine Chocolate

And now, the but. I’m not ungrateful, but please ponder on the fact that it took you 5 years and a killer recession to realize I was important to your business. I was not a particularly loyal customer. I’ve never been wowed by your service, but in the face of equally slim alternative service offerings, I was sticking with you… until something better came along. This one gesture actually made up some ground on that front. You’ve deposited some goodwill in the emotional bank account of our relationship. So kudos for this first step, and please don’t stop there.

I’ve devoured my gift, and actually stopped by the Borough Market Rabot Estate chocolate store yesterday and restocked. I’m amazed at how little it takes to make someone feel appreciated. It reminds me I don’t do it nearly enough, and waiting for the grand gesture is so, so unnecessary. So if you find a celophane wrapped “Dash of Milk with Earl Grey” or “Dark with Crystallized Oranges” sitting in your mailbox or on your desk, you’ll know why!