7 Customer Appreciation Ideas For Your Small Business




  • November 28, 2014

    Did you know that 68% of customers leave because they feel the company is indifferent to them? Not because of slow service, not because they found a better price somewhere else, but because they don’t feel appreciated.

    And you know what?

    That’s awesome news for us, smaller businesses! We can easily use this to compete with even the biggest and richest corporations.

    Simply because for once, we have an advantage over them. We do care about our customers. We notice when they share our content, our heart breaks a little when they unsubscribe from our newsletter (or maybe I’m being too sensitive).

    Now there’s one issue though: How do we show customer appreciation without breaking the budget?

    It’s actually a lot easier than you’d think.

    The truth is, it’s the thought that counts a lot more than the actually gift. I’m not just making that up, I promise. Look at the study below!

    3 studies conducted by Frank Flynn and available on Stanford’s website show how the price of a gift matters for givers but not for receivers.

    In one study, student received either an iPod or a CD as a graduation gift. Gift givers thought the iPod would be more appreciated but receivers rated no difference in appreciation levels.

     

    Just don’t apply this theory with teenagers in your family. You will regret it…

    For customers, on the other hand, keep in mind that it really is the thought that counts.

     

    “Ok, that’s great, but should I thank EVERY customer?”

    I recently stumbled upon an amazing article by Jeannie Walters where she describes how most businesses offer incentives to new customers completely forgetting about their existing and loyal clients.

    Don’t be that guy!

    Be the one who rewards loyal customers with far better attentions than new ones. I can promise you it will make your business stand out!

    Now let’s dive into the subject: What makes a good customer appreciation gift?

    I’m not a business gift giving expert and I didn’t want to just give you a bunch of advice based on personal hints.

    So I decided to reach out to a small gift giving business owner for some help.

    7 Customer Appreciation Ideas For Your Small Business image Final robin photo.jpg 200x300About 2 weeks ago, I had a great conversation with Robin from the Thank Tank. She helps businesses express gratitude to their clients by sending beautiful, personalized gifts for them.

    Putting her insights and a few ideas of mine together, I came up with 7 original customer appreciation ideas to show your customers just how much you care.

    First, here’s an infographic for all the busy business people out there. As always, there’s way more content in the article below (and even a bonus idea, probably the most important of all).

    7 Customer Appreciation Ideas For Your Small Business image infographics 7 creative ideas to show customer appreciation.jpg

    Idea 1: The Timeless Thank You Note


    Thank you notes are not dead yet!

    On the contrary, it’s the perfect time for you to start using them.

    We’re all drowning under emails and social media messages, the only thing we don’t get enough are real good ol’ letters.

    During my conversation with Robin, she mentioned the fact that she includes personal notes with all the presents she sends out to her clients. She takes care of personalizing it with the customer’s name and more, all clients need to do is send her up-to-date details about their customers.

    This can be a perfect solution if you’re afraid you won’t have time to take care of it yourself.

    If you think you can handle writing thousands of thank you notes yourself, look at what this clothing brand did.

    Micah Solomon also wrote a great article about how HEX, a fashion tech accessory brand, built a profitable business by sending out 13,000 handwritten thank you notes like the one bellow.

    7 Customer Appreciation Ideas For Your Small Business image Screen Shot 2014 05 10 at 12.22.17 PM1.png 703x600

    This simple personal touch allows them to compete with the giants of the industry.

    Without mentioning the free publicity they got from customers posting photos of their notes on social media.

     

    Some basic rules to remember when writing a thank you note:

    • Include personal greetings with the customer’s name
    • Be precise about why you are thanking them (purchase of a specific article, sign-up to use your app, they referred a friend/colleague to you…)
    • Don’t include your business card, you are thanking them, not selling to them

    The little something that will make your note special:

    • Include a personal comment about their use of the product. Solmadrid Vazquez from MMA Somnia even draws a quick picture of the customer using their boxe gloves with a personal message along those lines “First Manhattan, next the world. Jane is ready to take on all comers in her new Cleto Reyes boxing gloves!” http://selfemployedking.com/55-customer-appreciation-ideas/)
    • Design your own branded cards without making it promotional

    Idea 2: Cookies (Who Doesn’t Love Cookies Right?)


    If you don’t know your customers that well, cookies are a pretty safe bet.

    Cookies are not only delicious, they’re also a great present to share with colleagues. Therefore leading to more people hearing about you and your brand, and offices full of new raving fans.

    In addition to helping companies show customer appreciation, Robin sells homemade cookies. According to the short description on her website, they are so delicious, people go to extreme lengths to hide them.

    You don’t believe me? Check her cookies’ page (the last testimonial is perfect).

    “How can I use cookies to promote my business?” you might ask.

    Well here’s a great example for you!

    An east coast luxury car dealer have Robin send gourmet cookies to new customers each month. Each package also comes with a personalized note and a discount coupon toward their first service or purchase.

    7 Customer Appreciation Ideas For Your Small Business image Mercedes Benz ty cookies and note1.jpg

    And guess what?

    This gratitude program has been so successful in bringing customers back, as well as providing referrals, they have introduced it into their other dealerships.

    If you are feeling a little more eccentric there are some great options for breathtaking custom-made cookies out there.

    I don’t know if you remember our Small Business Pinterest article. We had a blast interviewing 8 small businesses about their experience with Pinterest.

    Turns out one of them sells –you got it– custom cookies.

    Parker’s Crazy Cookies makes super cute cookies that look like you, your brand’s logo or anything you want. Just look at the photo of their Pinterest below to get an idea.

    7 Customer Appreciation Ideas For Your Small Business image Capture d’écran 2014 10 07 à 14.16.28.png 900x425

    This could be a great way to surprise your most loyal clients and generate some noise around your brand’s name.

    Most websites and gift brands will also allow you to customize the box.

    Take advantage of that to add a personal message for your clients (and not only your logo).

    A simple “Enjoy!” or a funny “Don’t Forget to Share ;)” will help your clients remember your gesture.

    Idea 3: Books, Courses, And Gifts To Help Customers Learn


    If you’re leaning toward a useful gift, just keep in mind that it has to be useful to your customer.

    Not to you.

    Many companies send out their favorites books or sign up customers for their favorite courses as a gift.

    This is a really good idea…

    …If your customer can actually benefit from them.

    I know Zappos gives out free copies of their CEO’s book on customer happiness at the end of their tour. That’s ok, because they are Zappos!

     

    Giving out free copy of your new ebook to customers isn’t a present, it’s regular marketing.

    Instead of thinking about yourself, try identifying pain points your customers are encountering or will likely encounter and give them a way to solve them.

    In a great article from selfemployedking.com, Ernest Adams describes how his wedding company sends brides a thank you note with a reminders of places where they should change their name and marital status.

    This doesn’t cost them much but it far more useful to customers than a $ 20 dollar book on whatever subject.

     

    How to get the perfect practical gift idea?

    Just think about your customers pain points (or even better, ask them):

    • what’s the one thing most of them struggle with
    • is there a tedious task they need to go through
    • are they losing a lot of time doing something

    Then find a way to solve those pain points. Help them save time, solve an issue, make a boring task more fun to handle…

    Idea 4: Unique Products From Your City or Country


    If you are catering to international clients like us, a little something from your region or country might be the way to go.

    You might need to add few dollars to cover the shipping cost here but believe me it’s worth it.

    People love to discover new products.

    Even better, they usually love to share them.

    The fact that it’s a local product means they don’t usually have an easy access to it.

    If they like it, you hit the jackpot! Chances are they will avidly wait for your package each year.

     

    Let me give you an example: I am French but currently living in Poland. Everytime I go back to my family in France, I bring sweets from Poland. After few trips, they even have their favorites and are asking for them.

    Why?

    Because they can’t find similar products in France.

    People love new things and they love to own unique products!

    Believe me, you can’t go wrong with a local product, even if they don’t like the food, people will have fun trying it.

     

    Idea 5: A Funny Product Associated With Your Brand


    Have you ever got a bottle stopper as a business gift?

    Ok, I don’t know about you but I haven’t.

    That’s the original gift the interior design firm, Zen Interiors sends to high-end Los Angeles real estate brokers to attract their attention.

    They partnered up with the Thank Tank to have them customized with their brand’s name and sent out with a personal note.

    7 Customer Appreciation Ideas For Your Small Business image New Zen bottlestopper.jpg
    Turns our these stoppers did exactly what they are intended to do: opening doors!

     

    Here’s another example taken from Self Employed King’s amazing list of ideas.

    Shelley Webb, a social media professional, helps customers save time on social media marketing.

    To show customer appreciation, she sends each of them a funny timer to help them track their time and be more productive.

    This is a nice and unique gesture to remind customers about how she helped them.

     

    The advantage with such a present is that it doesn’t cost much and it helps making customers feel special.

    MailChimp for example, allows customers to print and make their own paper buddy.

    This is essentially useless but it’s really fun and it gives you a sense of belonging.

     

    How can you figure out a fun gimmick for your brand?

    First, take a look at your company’s culture.

    Are you fun?

    Are you exclusive?

    Are you super serious?

    Are you friendly?

    Helpful? Hip? Old-school? Sarcastic? Too-cool-for-school?

    In other words, how would you describe your brand’s spirit in one world?

     

    Do you have a little unique something that makes you special and is instantly recognizable?

    (It can be a mascot like MailChimp’s Freddie, an accessory like Ted Rubin’s socks, your logo like Apple…)

    What problem do you help solving? Is there a product that could symbolize that?

     

    I know I asked an awful lot of questions there.

    It’s because the possibilities are truly endless but it requires a lot of creativity and outside the box thinking.

    Idea 6: A Special Gift for A Special Occasion (Birthdays, Weddings…)


    One of Robin’s clients sends out gift to customers on their birthday.

    This makes him stand out because it is a really personal gesture.

    Rather than just sending out a gift to everyone at the same time (usually around Christmas time), he sends out gifts on a day that’s special to customers.

    Were you ever asked your birth date on an online form? I’m guessing yes.

    How many times did you receive an actual gift on that date? I’m guessing very few.

    A lot of studies show that customers don’t mind sharing their personal information as long as it’s used to build a more personalized experience.

    Next time you decide to ask the customer for a piece of information, think about what you could do with it that would improve the customer’s experience.

     

    When could you send gifts?

    • Birthdays
    • Weddings (if that’s your industry)
    • Anniversaries (you can have a special anniversary for your own relationship with the customers: first time they made a purchase or signed up for your product)
    • Name Day (if your country celebrates them)

    If you don’t want to ask customers for too much personal information, you could send out gifts on less celebrated holidays like Valentine’s Day or have your own special customer appreciation day.

     

    It can also be a good idea to send out gifts to new clients after a purchase or the signature of a contract like mentioned in the car dealership example earlier.

    Another of Robin’s clients, the CEO of a marketing agency, sends a branded and personalized thank you gift within hours of every new business meeting.

    7 Customer Appreciation Ideas For Your Small Business image Likeable Combination2.jpg

    Here’s what he has to say: “Robin created a turnkey gratitude gift program for my companythat has now incorporated “thank you” as part of the way we do business. Robin and The Thank Tank do it all and we receive the „thank you.” Reliable and with passion is how Robin treats her business and her clients. All I can say to Robin is, “THANK YOU!””

    Idea 7: Put them in the spotlight


    Have you ever checked Skittles Facebook page?

    They feature a weekly BFF, Best Fan Forever, on their page. This is their special and crazy way to put their customers in the spotlight.

    7 Customer Appreciation Ideas For Your Small Business image 10247318 10153649426693475 6058019318061305007 n.jpg

    You know why it works?

    Not because people get their photo to appear on a page followed by 26 Million people.

    Because they get to be the face of a group they identify with: the brand’s raving fans.

    You don’t have to have millions of followers to put your customers in the spotlight.

    When I interviewed small businesses about their use of Pinterest, almost all of them said they were using the network to put their customers in the spotlight.

    And you know what? It worked.

    Pudges, a restaurant from the Philadelphia area, for example uses social media to highlight customers who participate in their Pudges’ challenge.

    When I spoke with the restaurant’s owner, he said that customers loved the recognition and almost always shared the photos with their network.

    If you are dealing with business clients, they will always appreciate the free publicity that goes with a small article or case study about them.

    Don’t forget that your customers are the ones keeping your business afloat. They are the ones who found a use to your product.

    Yep, they’re the real shining stars here!

     

    Bonus Daily Customer Appreciation Idea: Make yourself accessible


    Do you know how Zappos’ CEO surprises customers (and employees) every holiday season?

    He answers customer service calls!

    No crazy expensive grand gesture. He just makes himself accessible.

     

    The secret of most caring companies isn’t to pull off something huge every five years.

    It’s to be there for customers everyday, to not hide under layers of administration but to simply talk to their customers.

    The best customer appreciation tool you’ll ever have is yourself and the people who work for you.

     

    Make it easy for customers to reach your company. Train everyone to take the best care of customers. That’s it. That’s your best weapon right here!

    The bad news is, no one can take care of that for you. The good news is, we can help you be more accessible. How? With a simple live chat window.

    To sum it all up


    Your gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be memorable.

    It has to be special and feel personal.

    Always think about what the customer will get from it whether it is useful information or delicious treats or just the amazing feeling that goes with seeing that someone thought about them.

    Whenever in doubt just consider this:

    Very few businesses think about thanking their customers for their business. Even fewer actually find original ways to do so.

    Your gift might not seem like the most original, expensive or thoughtful one but remember, it’s the thought that counts.

    And don’t forget: a gift will make you more memorable but consistent awesome service will make customers stick by your side.

    How do you show customer appreciation? Did a company ever blow your socks off with an awesome gift?

    Share your stories with us in the comment section!


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