With so many different options available for customers, it’s important to recognize and acknowledge the consumers and clients who choose to do business with you. Showing some customer appreciation not only helps people feel valued, but also engages your employees, as it strengthens the relationships between customers and your staff.
There are countless ways your company can show gratitude to its customers, and many of these ways cost little more than your time. To find out what works best, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members the following:
Q. What is one way businesses can show gratitude to their customers or clients? How does customer appreciation ultimately build better relationships for the future?
1. Hold giveaways for customer appreciation
We hold seasonal giveaways for our customers where we offer great discounts, free products, gift cards, and much more. I think this is a great way to show gratitude because people love the idea of winning a prize, so they are likely to enter our contest on social media. We set rules as part of the entry process where consumers can subscribe to our email list, share the post with friends, and follow us on social media for additional entries. This tactic helps us secure future lines of communication, which ultimately helps us build better relationships and rapport with our customers. —John Turner, SeedProd LLC
2. Share new products with customers early
When you are testing a new product, in the final stage before bringing it to market, try sharing with existing clients. My digital marketing agency develops digital products frequently for search engine optimization and search engine marketing, and one way that we show gratitude is through product premier onboarding specials. Integrating new products creates a symbiotic relationship with our clients, and when we launch the final product, we always offer a discount to clients who were in the final product test round. We gain users for new products, we show our clients that we are always improving our digital offerings, and that we value their input as more than a test group or just clients—they become an extension of our team. —Matthew Capala, Alphametic
3. Show customer appreciation by surprising them with gifts and personal notes on special occasions
On special occasions like birthdays that are saved on their profiles, we send random surprise gifts with small personal notes written by me. It builds better relationships knowing that we care and we know their birthdays. We value our customers and make them feel they’re not just a name who orders our products, but a person with value and we are grateful to them.—Daisy Jing, Banish
4. Teach customers something useful
Help them learn something new, for free. Sure, you can send them a box of candies or invite them to a corporate event, but offering them your niche knowledge is something no one else can give. Host an online seminar, send out an e-book, or even put on an informational lunch-and-learn to teach your customers something they can take and apply to their businesses. It actually gives them something that could exponentially grow their own business, and it shows that you care about their success and are willing to do what is necessary to help out. They will remember you for it and view you as a far more valuable company to deal with. —Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
5. Follow up with your customers
You don’t have to go to great lengths to show your customers gratitude. A simple thank-you email or follow-up call can go a long way. Following up with your clients shows them that you care, and that you look at clients as people, not just commission-generators. Your clients will look elsewhere if they think you don’t want to meet their needs. Also, people talk. Word-of-mouth is still an effective marketing tool. After all, you’d probably trust a friend rather than some website when it comes to referrals. In your follow-up communications, ask your clients if they’re happy with their service and take their feedback into consideration. They may think you’re doing great and will appreciate you contacting them, or if you need to make a small tweak, that’ll keep them around for years. —Jeff Pitta, Medicare Plan Finder
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6. Be transparent
To show gratitude to your customers, you must first always practice honesty. Being transparent as a company, especially today, is essential because the truth always finds a way out eventually. Even for smaller cases, it’s important to be honest with your audience. If you can’t meet their expectations, let them know. Being upfront saves you both time and money, and they’ll thank you for that. —Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
7. Customer appreciation means respecting their time
We all can agree that building relationships with clients is a top priority for every business regardless of the industry. Giveaways, occasional discounts, and thank-you notes are awesome, but there’s something else you can do to express gratitude to as many customers as possible in a way that matters: that’s showing respect to their time. Whenever you come up with a newsletter, make sure it’s worth opening. Whenever you’re about to share a post on social media, make it a good one. If you can share some value, do it. We’ve started a YouTube channel where we answer the most common questions asked by our customers. Also, we’ve just created a digital marketing podcast to share knowledge absolutely for free. Be helpful. That’s a pillar of strong relationships. —Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
8. Implement a tiered loyalty program
Reward and loyalty programs are always an effective way to show customer appreciation. It’s important that rewards are tiered so that your best customers are rewarded in proportion to their purchases. Incentives may be free products or services, coupons or gifts. You can also do this informally by giving gifts to customers. However, a loyalty program has the advantage of providing an incentive to customers as they earn points every time they buy something. This is the model used by the airline industry, but it can be applied to almost any type of business. —Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
9. Give customers solutions, even if it’s not your own
Show your customers that you appreciate them by helping them with suggestions and referrals for those things that you can’t directly solve for them. When they see you aren’t always offering your own solution but have a network of other ways to help them, they will see you appreciate them for who they are, rather than what they might buy from you. —Angela Ruth, Calendar
10. Find little ways to show an “attitude of gratitude” every day
As a B2B service provider, customers are the lifeblood of our business, and having an attitude of gratitude towards each of them can be an everyday occurrence. For example, customer service calls can close with a simple, “Thank you for doing business with us today.” We follow our customers on social media and share their posts when applicable, helping them grow their brand. Periodically, we also host customer appreciation events that may include a happy hour, sporting event, or other team activity. Additionally, we have partnered with our customers on some of our giveback initiatives, which has resulted in deeper relationships as they see us living our company’s vision. —Michael Kurland, Branded Group Inc.