How To Celebrate Customer Success

How To Celebrate Customer Success

It all built up to the big day. For months, I had been preparing, practicing, visualizing my performance. At 47, I would join my son and a passel of elementary students for my very first piano recital at the Chevy Chase Arts Academy.

Rachmaninoff I am not, but I couldn’t have been prouder than when my family applauded my performance and CCAA owner Levon Mikaelian put a rose in my hand as I returned to my seat.

Even as I juggle two kids and a business, I’ve stuck with my mid-life hobby for two years, and I am pleased to report that I can now perform a passable Swan Lake. What’s more, I rave to my friends and neighbors about the CCAA team and their genuine delight in my progress. And with a half dozen referrals to my credit, I gladly cede my throne as the school’s very oldest student.

CCAA understands that celebrations aren’t just for kids. In fact, they have built a thriving business around celebrating customer success.

Levon Mikaelian, CCAA founder and Maryland Youth Ballet director

Too often, businesses forget that their customers are people, too. No one wants a business relationship that feels purely transactional, especially when working towards a goal. Instead, savvy business owners take their customers on a journey, acknowledge their progress and create community rituals around their achievements.

Celebrating customer success creates loyal, happy customers who stay with you for years, refer their friends, and gladly provide you with social proof of your results-oriented business model.

Read on to discover how this Chevy Chase-based music school delights and retains students and their parents with a joyful and gamified approach to learning music.

Join your customers on a quest

Everyone wants to be the hero of their own story. CCAA owner Levon Mikaelian understands that desire within every student (and customer) to see real progress towards a hard-won goal — and to find motivation in milestones and accolades.

Since 2001, he has served as the musical director of the Maryland Youth Ballet, where he has coached and mentored thousands of young musicians. In 2019, he founded his own music school, and in four short years, he has built it into a beloved community institution with hundreds of committed students, and a plan to open a second location in 2024.

In any business, there are different stages. For us, practice is the beginning of the journey. The recital is the finale, and the release of that energy. It’s a time to celebrate hard work. No one wants to play in their living room alone. That’s why recitals become a great tool to bring our community together and showcase everything that people have been working hard to achieve.

Mikaelian recognizes that school-wide recitals keep students motivated and give parents a concrete understanding of their kids’ progress. It’s no coincidence that they occur in June and December. Like graduation ceremonies and holiday parties, they offer a festive milestone to mark a moment of transition.

Create interim milestones

But celebrating customer success every six months isn’t enough. Motivation flags when rewards feel too distant, but people thrive when even small gains earn them a treat. Loose a pound? Celebrate with one cookie.

Mikaelian's Musical Ladder bracelets for student milestones

Mikaelian calls these frequent rewards the Musical Ladder. “It’s a bit like a karate school, where students progress from one belt to the next based on demonstrated skills.” Instead of a black belt, students work towards bracelets inscribed with fun slogans like “Song Bird” or “Maestro.” They can also earn certificates and trophies for big leaps forward.

In March and September, in between the semi-annual recitals, music teachers give their students an evaluation. After each recital, student and teacher begin work towards the next goal. During weekly music lessons, teachers talk up the test, praise the student for progress and strategize on the steps needed to reach the next milestone.

We’ve found that something as simple as the musical ladder keeps student motivated and practicing. It helps with retention, because kids don’t want to drop out before they’ve reached the next goal. Obviously, it’s not really about the bracelets. It’s about giving people an opportunity to feel proud of themselves, and know that their hard work is recognized.

Make celebrating success a part of your team training

CCAA’s process for celebrating and rewarding student achievement may seem straightforward, but Mikaelian has found it requires constant reinforcement with staff. “As a business owner, even if a system feels like common sense, people will find a way to make a mistake or forget.”

During interviews with prospective music teachers, he emphasizes that recitals are a cornerstone of the school’s philosophy, and asks questions to probe whether their approach to incentivizing and rewarding students aligns with his own. At orientation, he reinforces the expectation that teachers need to attend their students’ recitals, and gives them deadlines and standard operating procedures for when and how to administer tests.

In short, celebrating customers’ success isn’t just about throwing a party. It requires a deliberate system, ongoing team training, and a clear company culture.

Levon Mikelian quote on why it's important to give students something to work towards

Celebrating customer success across industries

Too often, businesses forget to bring joy and pride to their customers. The Chevy Chase Arts Academy may serve (mostly) kids, but the deep connections they make with grateful, motivated customers are enviable assets that many service-based business can emulate.

Looking for inspiration? Try one of these in your business:

  • Gym or Fitness Center: Feature “Member Spotlights” on your website or social media platforms, highlighting individuals who achieved their fitness goals through your programs or training sessions. Host a 30-day challenge with a board where members can post a sticker every time they work out, and rewards for those who reach a specific goal.

  • Home Improvement Contractor: Make clients remember how you transformed their house, not the six months they went without a kitchen. When your photographer comes to take “after” photos for your own promotions, offer them a family photo shoot at the same time.

  • Pet Services: Throw an obedience school graduation party, where canine pals can showcase their new skills for proud pet owners. Or, gift a pet owner with before and after photos that feature their fur baby’s grooming transformation.

  • Financial Advisor or Accounting Firm: Gamify progress towards long-term financial goals with an app that gives clients daily motivations to stay the course with saving for retirement or paying down credit cards. Host an annual “debt free” party to celebrate your clients’ financial achievements, or invite everyone who finishes their taxes on time to an April 15 happy hour.

Chevy Chase Arts Academy reviews

Are you ready to celebrate your customers’ success?

CCAA is proof that creating a culture that helps customers achieve their own goals is a powerful strategy for small businesses seeking growth and success.

By acknowledging their achievements and giving them realistic, fun milestones to work towards, small businesses can nurture strong relationships, enhance customer satisfaction, boost retention, and even attract new customers.

Need help taking your next steps towards small business success? At RS Gonzales, we are passionate about helping the National Capitol region’s local service-based businesses thrive. Get in touch to schedule your free sales and marketing audit and strategy session.

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