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Customer Appreciation Ideas: 19 Ways to Say Thank You

By Erin Ryan Reviewed By Mike Lucas
By Erin Ryan
By Erin Ryan Reviewed By Mike Lucas

“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” – Randy Pausch

Demonstrating customer appreciation by saying thank you might seem like such a simple, uncomplicated thing to do, but the impact it can make in someone’s day (even their life) is profound. No matter how big or small, expressing gratitude goes a long way.

Let’s look at the best ways to show your customers just how grateful you are.

Our List of 19 Client Appreciation Events, Thank-You Gifts and Gestures Sure to Impress

Beige background with a handwritten thank-you card and a pen.

1. Send Handwritten Notes Thanking Customers

Think of all the communications you receive in a day — hundreds, if not thousands of emails, texts, bills, junk mail, advertisements and smartphone notifications vying for your attention.

Aside from the messages you receive from those closest to you, how many will make you take pause? In today’s always-on, get-it-done tech world, noticing that someone has taken the time to handwrite a letter of thanks is touching and often unexpected.

With only a few sentences, you can make your customer’s day by merely acknowledging that you are grateful they’re your customer.

2. Host a Customer Appreciation Event

If you run a brick-and-mortar business or have the resources to visit your customers across the country, throwing an event for your VIP customers is a great way to show you appreciate them.

Depending on your industry, you could arrange a networking event for your client base or provide a customer appreciation sale in your store just for select clients.

Even if you rotate the event so that all of your customers have an opportunity to attend at different times throughout the year, inviting them directly makes each customer feel important. 

Establishing customer appreciation days helps you build and cultivate customer loyalty, even allowing you to identify strong company ambassadors.

3. Send Thank-You Gifts for Customers to Enjoy

In today’s world, you likely have access to more information about your customers than ever before. Whether it’s through an email address they’ve shared by signing up for a newsletter or through a casual conversation you’ve had with them over social media or face to face, the opportunity to know your customers personally exists.

Leverage your data and interactions to consider a gift that could bring your customer value, personally or professionally. Or send something that will bring a smile to their face, such as flowers or a food basket.

When done well, sending a gift to your customers demonstrates just how well you’re listening and shows just how much you truly appreciate them.

4. Honor Clients With a Charitable Contribution

Making a donation in your client’s name to a noteworthy charity or one that’s close to your client’s heart is a great way to show your appreciation. 

More and more, customers are spending their dollars with companies that align with their values. So pay close attention to what your customers are most passionate about, especially your top clients.

For example, if you run a business with a close connection to natural resources, consider donating to a water conversation charity in a customer’s honor. Or, if you operate a local grocer, you could donate a holiday meal in the name of your customers. 

Such a feel-good gesture can be a great way to serve the community and strengthen the bond between you and your customers.

Similarly, planting a tree in honor of your customer could be another way to show your appreciation. Not only is it a positive impact on the environment, but it’s also a great way to tangibly show how much you value a specific customer.

5. Say Thank You With a Personal Video

If you thought writing a handwritten note would show how much you appreciate your customers, imagine how you’d feel if you opened your Twitter notifications or inbox and found a customized video just for you?

Here’s a popular personalized video created by eyewear company Warby Parker responding to a customer looking for feedback on the frames she tried on. 

Original Tweet:

@WarbyParkerHelp what do yall think? Any recommendations? pic.twitter.com/wzZgDZl0h1

— Whitney Fowler (@whitlash) December 18, 2014

Video Response:

This could be a time-consuming endeavor, so consider reserving personalized videos for top clients. Also, if you’re a smaller business, you might not have the budget to create a professional-looking video, but you can still follow suit. 

If you’re a one-person show, create a thank-you video on your smartphone, and text or email it to your customer. If you’re a larger company, have individual salespeople try out this technique. 

In addition to showing your gratitude, you’re providing a visual reminder of what you look like, which can also help you stay top of mind should your client be in need of similar services again.

6. Treat Your Client to Lunch

Whether you send lunch unannounced to a client’s office, invite them to a customer appreciation event at a local restaurant or send them a gift card to their favorite sandwich shop, picking up the check is a treat sure to please.

Gifting food and drinks is a great way of thanking customers. These expressions of gratitude are rewarded when customers refer your business to coworkers and friends. 

7. Teach Your Customers a New Skill

Teaching your customers a new skill is a fun way to demonstrate expertise in your craft and build and strengthen relationships with your customers.

For example, if you own a brewery, invite your regulars for a lesson on what they would need to brew beer at home. If you own an arts and craft store, you could host a scrapbooking class. The list goes on. 

8. Share a Great Book

Consider giving an inspirational book or industry-specific best-seller as a customer appreciation gift. It can facilitate a dialogue between you and your customer.

You’ll be able to talk about the insights each of you has gathered and will hopefully continue learning more about how your business can support them.

Depending on your level of familiarity, writing a personal note on one of the title pages can add a nice touch. 

9. Spotlight Your Customer

Make your customer feel special. Whether you’re a local coffee shop owner or a major coffee bean distributor, featuring your customers on your social media accounts, newsletter or as part of some larger initiative is a great way to show you’re grateful for your patrons. It shows that you truly value them as part of your business and want the world to know about it.

10. Do Something ‘Just Because’

Do something special for a special customer. For instance, send a massage therapist their way to help ease workplace stress. Or, if they’ve been snowed in, hire a plow service to clear their driveway. Think of thoughtful, creative ways you can acknowledge them. 

While your motivation should be taking care of your customer, the residual impact could be getting additional attention through word of mouth or social media sharing.

11. Create a Rewards Program Worth Talking About

Developing a loyalty program that people want to sign up for and continue using can be challenging. While it’s advantageous for businesses to collect emails and phone numbers, your business needs to provide enough value that people keep coming back.

As a way to thank customers and encourage brand loyalty, physical retailers can offer a punch card with a “Buy X, Get Y Free.” This is a simple way to drive repeat business, as long as the buying cycle provides enough incentive for the customer.

On the other hand, online retailers may be better off using personalized discounts on the products customers buy most.

12. Start a Referral Program

When you work with a customer you like and appreciate, sometimes the highest compliment can be to send business their way. If you own a business-to-business company, this can mean connecting one customer with another in order to solve a specific need.

In contrast, a business-to-consumer company might give long-term customers unique coupons to hand out to friends for special discounts. 

Since consumers are more likely to trust the recommendations of a peer or an online review, having these types of referrals coming through your business helps build social proof.

13. Celebrate Your Customers

Offer congratulations and well wishes to a customer who is celebrating a birthday, retirement or another major milestone. You can also send a personalized gift to commemorate the occasion (e.g., custom glass or plaque).

14. Check In to Say Hello

When was the last time you communicated with your customer? Not to sell them anything, that is, just to say hello. A call, a text or an email to say hello shows you’re thinking of your customer and you value your relationship. 

15. Make Life Easier

Ultimately, customers do business with you because you provide a service they can’t perform themselves or because you offer more efficiency and convenience. But sometimes, even the companies who make our lives easier go above and beyond their product descriptions.

For example, the pet retailer Chewy.com has improved the lives of customers across the country with its no-questions-asked return policy. Powered by a world-class customer service department, Chewy gets issues resolved in minutes.

16. Offer an Account Upgrade

We’ve talked a lot about surprises throughout this list. Perhaps one of the most valuable things you could do for your customers is upgrade their account. Online shoe retailer Zappos has been known to do this for customers after just a second purchase.

If you’re not in retail, you can still find a way to upgrade your customer accounts. As an example, a produce vendor could upgrade a loyal customer’s account by providing faster delivery options or allowing restaurants the chance to choose their goods. Whatever upgrade you offer, the act will show your appreciation. 

Beige background with graphic of a cell phone with a notification that says Giveaway Alert

 

17. Hold a Customer Appreciation Contest

Who doesn’t like a good raffle or giveaway with a little competition mixed in? Create an “Enter to Win” contest, whether online or in-person. Think social media versus dropping a business card in a bowl.

Or automatically enter your clients in a contest each month for a chance to win a prize. Prizes could be tickets to a sports game or live performance, a gift certificate to a local restaurant, a spa day or something else you know would be a hit. 

18. Listen

Listening goes a long way. And it doesn’t just have to be face to face. Take to social media and see what your clients and target audience are saying online. You’ll be able to identify what they care about. You’ll also be able to hear how your small business is doing in their eyes. 

19. Go Above and Beyond in the Everyday

As a small business owner or salesperson, you can do many things to show your customers that you care. But it’s often in the everyday interactions that you can do something to garner a positive impression and improve customer retention.

For example, in the retail environment this could be remembering their favorite item, greeting them by name, engaging in pleasant conversation or offering them a drink while they shop. 

Following Through on Customer Appreciation Promotion Ideas

While there are plenty of gifts, events and promotions you could offer, ultimately, the best customer appreciation strategy is to provide a consistent experience that delivers what your clients expect when they expect it. 

When you’re ready to implement a specific customer appreciation idea, consider creating an annual customer appreciation month or quarterly customer appreciation week to highlight your top clients, promote exclusive sales or host private events. 

Extend your gratitude to your newest clients as well as the ones who’ve been with you since day one. You won’t regret it.

Erin Ryan Staff Writer and Editor at Fast Capital 360
Erin has more than 15 years’ experience writing, proofreading and editing web content, technical documentation, instructional materials, marketing copy, editorials and creative content. In her role at Fast Capital 360, Erin covers topics of interest to small business owners, including sales, marketing, business management and financing.
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