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Finding the perfect program.

Customer Appreciation Ideas To Say Thank You: Gifts, Events, Programs & More

Customer appreciation is a phrase that seems to have both attracted significant attention and yet simultaneously lost some of its luster. Many companies pay lip service to customer appreciation and service but unfortunately, don’t follow through when the moment comes to pass.

As social media evolved, customer service became one of the staples for savvy companies. The businesses who focused on serving their customers in these brave new forums not only learned how they could improve their products or services, they had a chance to learn who their customers actually were. These two-way conversations were new, exciting, and full of promise for both the business and customer.

Before we go into how you can show your thanks for your customers, let’s dig into the psychology of simply saying thank you.

The Power of Saying Thank You

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

Saying thank you might seem like such a simple, uncomplicated thing to do, but the impact it can cause in someone’s day (even their life) is profound. According to a University of Texas at Austin study, people seem to downplay the effect of receiving a thank you in any capacity.

“People tend to undervalue the positive effect they can have on others for a tiny investment of time”, says Dr. Amit Kumar, the lead of this study. No matter how big or small expressing our gratitude goes a long way.

Let’s take a look at 21 ways your business can begin to show your customers just how much you appreciate them.

21 Awesome Customer Appreciation Ideas to Better Your Business

  • Write a Handwritten Thank You Note

    “Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it all into words is all that is necessary.” -Margaret Cousins

    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 immediately tech world, noticing that someone has taken the time to handwrite a letter of thanks is touching.

    Customers aren’t expecting to receive a letter from the business they just purchased a new winter jacket from, let alone from the restaurant where they just had a terrific meal.

    These notes don’t need to be anything earth-shattering. With only a few sentences you can make your customer’s day by merely acknowledging that you are grateful they’re your customer.

  • Send a Gift They Really Want

    Conducting business in 2018 and beyond means that you 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.

    Through these data points and interactions, you and your team can take note of a gift that could really bring them value, personally or professionally, or send them something that will simply bring a massive smile to their face.

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

  • Hold an Exclusive Event Just for Them

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

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

  • Make a Donation in Their Name

    More and more, customers are spending their dollars with companies who align with their values. Knowing this, companies should be paying close attention to what their customers are really most passionate about.

    For example, if you run a business with a close connection to natural resources, you can feel confident making a donation to a water conversation charity in a customer’s honor. Or, if you operate a local grocer, donating a meal in the name of your customers during the holidays can be a great way to both serve the community and strengthen the bond between you and your customers.

    Even if it’s not the exact charity or organization your customer would choose, the gesture and action will make them feel about what’s being done by the businesses they’ve chosen to work with.

  • Plant a Tree in Their Name

    Similar to making a donation, planting a tree in honor of your customer is a fantastic way to increase loyalty. Not only is it a positive impact on the environment, but it’s also a great way to tangibly show how much you appreciate a specific customer.

    Depending on where the tree is planted, you and your honored customer can always look at the tree and be reminded of how grateful you are for working with you.

  • Thank Them with a Personal Video

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

    This trend was intensified around 2014 when the online eyewear company Warby Parker began responding with personalized videos to customers looking for opinions on the frames they were trying on.

    Original Tweet:

    Video Response:

    Scaling this type of customer appreciation program would certainly be a bit tricky, but it won’t take much to make an impact. Warby Parker doesn’t respond to every customer with an artisanal video, but the attention they’ve received from them has made a lasting impact on an entire generation of socially savvy bespectacled shoppers.

  • Treat Them to Lunch

    Is there anything more fun than a free lunch? How about a surprise free lunch?

    Regardless of whether you send lunch unannounced to a client’s office, invite them to a customer appreciation luncheon at a local restaurant, or send them a gift card to their favorite sandwich place, picking up the check is a welcome and wonderful treat.

    Sharing a meal goes a long way, especially when your customer shares the story with their coworkers and friends. It could be the most delicious word of mouth marketing you could ever receive.

  • Teach Them Learn a New Skill

    Much like investing in your employees, providing the opportunity for your customers and clients to better themselves makes them more likely to reciprocate.

    For example, if you own a brewery, invite your regulars in for a lesson on what they would need to brew their own beer at home. Teaching your customers a new skill is a fun way for you to demonstrate expertise in your craft and can help you build and strengthen relationships with your customers.

    The first time your customers try to apply their knowledge they’ll forever be grateful that you shared this gift with them…as long as you taught them well, that is.

  • Share a Book You Love

    Regardless of where you work and the job you perform, continuing to learn is important for everyone. Giving a book as a customer appreciation gift not only gives you the ability to share your favorite lessons and ideas, it opens an ongoing dialogue between you and your customer.

    By sharing the excitement you and your company have in a book, you’re indicating that you hope they find the book just as helpful and influential. 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.

    Writing a personal note in one of the title pages shows the the level of familiarity your company has towards each customer.

  • Turn the Spotlight on Them

    While some folks are shy, everyone likes to feel special. Whether you’re a local coffee shop 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 honor. It shows that you truly value them as part of your business and want the world to know about it.

    This recognition be sincerely appreciated and will also strengthen the bond you have with your customer.

  • Do Something ‘Just Because’

    If you’ve ever received a gift out of the blue, the feeling of joy is tangible. Sending a card, gift basket, or physically doing something for a customer can leave a lasting impact.

    Once they get over the initial surprise, they’ll be so thrilled that you were thinking about them that they’ll tell everyone they possibly can. 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.

  • Create a Rewards Program Worth Talking About

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

    For a physical retailer, a punch card with a ‘Buy X, Get Y Free’ might be the simplest way to driving repeat business, as long as the buying cycle provides enough incentive for the customer. An online retailer would be better off using personalized discounts on the products your customers buy most as a way to thank them and make sure they keep coming back to you.

  • 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. For a B2B business, this can be connecting one customer with another in order to solve a specific need.

    A B2C company, on the other hand, would be able to use unique and coupons that the business knows only are given out by their long-time customers. 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 you build social proof.

  • Celebrate Them

    Much like turning the spotlight on them, when a customer is celebrating a birthday, retirement, or any other major milestone in their lives, putting additional focus on them is a great way to share your company’s congratulations and well wishes.

    Creating a special video, sending a personalized gift that you know they’ll love (like a custom glass or plaque) will make their special moment that much more significant.

  • Check-In to Say Hello

    When was the last time you spoke to a customer? Not to sell them anything, that is, just to say hello? Simply sending an email or a handwritten letter to say hello not only shows that you’re thinking of your customer, it clearly shows how much you value and care about them as a person.

    Cultivating relationships in business is an ongoing endeavor, but working with customers you know and trust makes the process so much easier and more enjoyable.

  • Make Their Lives Easier

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

    For example, the pet retailer Chewy.com have improved the lives of thousands of customers across the country (including our CEO) by implementing a no questions asked return policy. Powered by a world-class customer service department, Chewy gets issues resolved in minutes and puts a smile on the faces of those who they work with that last for days.

  • Make the Mundane the Magnificent

    Coffee shops have been doing this for years with their incredible latte artwork and fun accoutrements. Taking a page out of their book, consider some of the essential things your business needs to do for your customers that might be considered ‘boring’. What among those details could be accentuated?

    We’ll let your own imaginations wander here but to give one last bit of inspiration, think of the restaurant videos that end up going viral on social media. We’ve seen everything from an eccentric chef sprinkling salt over everything in a strange but captivating way to a simple pasta dish finished and sauced by mixing it into an entire wheel of cheese. Sometimes the magnificent can be a bit much but it’s still more impactful than the mundane.

  • Upgrade Their Account

    We’ve talked a lot about surprises throughout this list. Maybe one of the most valuable things you could do for your customers would be to upgrade their account. Zappos commonly does this for their customers after just their second purchase, enabling them to get even more advantages than they already provide.

    For a company outside of the retail space, you can still find your own way to upgrade customer accounts. As an example, a produce vendor could upgrade a loyal customer’s account by providing faster delivery options or allowing restaurant’s the chance to choose their goods. However you’re able to upgrade your customers, it will surely show them how much you appreciate their business.

  • Anticipate Their Needs

    We live in a world of data. Every company, even a local deli who’s been in business for decades, has access to more customer information than they realize. For the deli who may not have access to the same level of sophisticated systems that a larger company may have, they can still look back through their records to see when their customers are most likely to order their favorite sandwiches.

    Imagine walking into your go-to lunch spot and they already had your food ready to go without you even calling? That might seem like magic, but it’s a compliment to the deli for paying attention to their customers to make sure that their needs are met, if not surpassed.

  • Listen to Them

    Listening goes a long way. Since Americans spend so much time on social networks (more than 11 hours per day consuming media according to market research company Nielsen), be active on social media is a wise investment for businesses.

    By listening to what your customers or target audience are talking about, you’ll be able to identify what they care about and more appropriately. While a lot of the broadcast reach from social media no longer exists for smaller businesses, there is still plenty of value that can be gleaned from these sites.

  • Match Their Enthusiasm

    When you’re fortunate enough to have customers marketing on your behalf, it’s important to them (and your business) to be just as excited as they are. Cultivate their enthusiasm, bottle it, and use it for all it’s worth. They’ll be a great source of inspiration for continually improving your company as well as finding new ways on how you can properly thank and appreciate all of your customers.

Following Through on Customer Appreciation Ideas

There are plenty of customer appreciation quotes and ideas out in the world. Ultimately, the best thing you can do for your customers is to provide a consistent experience that delivers what they expect, when they expect it.

The gratitude you feel for your customers should be felt by everyone, from your newest client to the one who’s been with you since day one. The same goes for your employees. Without them, none of the wonderful things we’ve described can be accomplished or scaled. Show them how much you appreciate their contributions and the entire business will be one, big appreciative family.

The common thread in all of these customer appreciation ideas is businesses that go above and beyond for a customer will likely have a customer for a very long time – and that sounds like a rewards program we’ll sign up for every day.


Jon Steiert

Jon Steiert

Content Manager at Fast Capital 360
Jon Steiert is Fast Capital 360's Content Manager, focusing on making business and financial information accessible to any business owner. A born and bred Philadelphian, Jon loves hockey, comedy, and great customer experience. He’s always on the lookout for fascinating stories that just haven’t been told properly.
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