Customer appreciation is the art of expressing gratitude towards your customers. It should be a consistent and fair approach towards engagement that conveys each customer is important to your success.
Prioritizing customer appreciation is the best thing to do, but it also sparks a positive spiral that can uplift every aspect of your business. Feeling and showing gratitude has psychological advantages for team members and contributes to an uplifting work environment where people come first.
By acknowledging customers each day, businesses strengthen the relationship that translates to higher retention and referral rates.
Some of the most significant effects of customer appreciation aren’t significantly measurable with metrics, though. Thanking customers can make them feel recognized, heard, and valued. When you acknowledge these people from day one, you build positive momentum to carry you and them forward.
Some of the Best Customer Appreciation Ideas
1. Send a handwritten note.
In texting and social media, people tend only to send handwritten notes for serious or special occasions. Maybe you’ll get a thank-you note for a wedding gift you gave a friend or a condolence note after losing a family member.
Given that email is the primary way companies connect with their customers, it isn’t necessarily a meaningful way to thank you. Alternatively, take out a pen and write a thoughtful thank-you card. The pleasure someone feels when they get happy mail is as tangible as the paper in their hand.
Make sure to get precise about what you’re thankful for and candid about what it means to you as a person. Businesses are groups of people; mentioning how their being a customer makes a difference to you, not just your business or company, is particularly meaningful.
2. Give back to causes close to customers.
You can also build out this idea at scale, so it’s an integral part of the way you do business. Mascoma Bank, a New Hampshire-based bank, donates 10% of its income to organizations in the local communities.
Doing good in the world is a gift to customers who want to purchase your products and services, and they’ll appreciate knowing how far you’ll go to make sure it counts.
3. Enlighten your community every day
At Toast, a point of sale and restaurant management software company, the team soon realized those restaurant owners had no clear curriculum for managing their businesses.
Given that gap in the market, they began a new publication called On the Line to guide their customers through their jobs’ toughest parts. Instead of shying away from complicated issues like sexism, layoffs, and mental health, they offer well-researched, compelling articles with actionable guidance.
When you’re good at something, it’s easy to forget just how much wisdom you can share. Educating customers is one of the rewarding ways to say thank you. The more creative you get, the better.
If you’re a dog walker, consider sending out an educational video to your clients with some tips for leash training their dogs. If you run a wine bar, collaborate with a local chef on a cooking class and wine tastings. Don’t undervalue your expertise — your customers will thank you for it.
4. Notice when customers go above and beyond
Have you ever spoken to a customer on the phone who was exceptionally kind, courteous, and attentive? No matter how many tough customer issues were lined up in the queue that day, did this one person’s positivity and graciousness press “reset” on your day? Or maybe someone wrote in with such a detailed query that you had all of the information you needed to make it right?
Next time that happens make sure to thank them for being so kind or diligent. Not only will it help you hold onto the warm and fuzzy feeling, but it will also make their day. Here are some things you can say:
- I know this is an exceptionally frustrating issue for you. You have been kind and patient on this call, and I’m grateful. I speak to people all day, and when someone makes an effort like this, it makes it much easier to solve the problem.
- I appreciate how thoughtful you’ve been. Typing up all of this information must have taken you a significant amount of time. It meant we could cut straight to the solution with no time lost, and I’m grateful. How else can I help?
- Wow! You’ve been so nice—what a bright spot in my day.
5. Offer a free service during a challenging time.
When people began to feel the impact of coronavirus and social distancing, some companies went above and beyond to help people adjust to a difficult new reality. Loom, for example, decided that their shareable video software could help organizations and schools collaborate remotely — and they didn’t want to profit from a global pandemic.
They decided to remove the recording limit on their free plan, more than doubled the length of paid product trials, and cut the price in half, too. Plus, they’re offering their paid plan for free to any students and teachers.
6. Take the time for face-to-face conversations.
Ultimately, people want to be seen and heard. Engaging with them in a conversation over video chat or, better yet, in person is a wonderful way to thank them for supporting your company every day.
Instead of going into the conversation with a plan, ask to hear more about their experiences with your business — and beyond it. Understanding the landscape of their lives more broadly builds the relationship and ensures that you can help them with greater clarity moving forward.
If your business isn’t anchored in a geographical community, take advantage of work travel. When you’re attending a conference or taking a meeting in a new place, see if any customers are located nearby and make an effort to connect with them in person.
7. Give a thoughtful gift.
Yes, tons of companies give their customers swag. But a thoughtful gift is a different kind of thank you. The gift can be related to your company or entirely separate from what you do for your customers daily.
For example, let’s say you run a coffee shop, and one of your best customers popped in before moving out of town. You could hand them a cup of coffee and their favourite pastry — on you. Or, you could buy them a gift certificate to another independent coffee shop in their new city or give them a to-go mug.
But there are other gifts, too, unrelated to your business: You could give them a book from the shop next door about their new city or offer to introduce them to a friend who lives near their new home.
The most important thing about a gift is that it’s personal and aligns with your client’s values. If they’re vegan, don’t give them a leather bag or local honey.
And no matter what you choose, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the gift’s worth to your customer aligns with the amount of money you poured into it. That’s not the case—the thoughtfulness you put into the gift matters far more than its monetary value.
8. Support their interests, work, and businesses
The best relationships are mutual. If your customers manage their businesses, ventures, or side gigs, support them any time you can. Buy their products or services and engage with their initiatives as often as possible.
Here are a few ways to say thank you while supporting their work:
- Partner with customers’ businesses on co-marketing campaigns.
- Highlight their work on social media or your blog.
- Ask a customer to teach a workshop for your team.
- Support a cause that they champion.
- Refer people to customers’ businesses.
- Host a virtual or in-person event together.
- Hire a customer for a position at your business.
Your customers show up for you every day, and there’s nothing they’ll appreciate more than you showing up for them and their work.
9. Bend the rules for a customer
Sometimes, a customer would knock on the door with a pained face just as I started to lock the door at the end of a day. They were usually looking for a gift or a birthday card.
Bending the rules for a customer and staying open for a few minutes longer was the right thing to do. It only took five minutes, but it made the difference for that person.
Customer-focused businesses give their team members the leeway to use their best judgment in helping customers out, even if it veers from the formal policy. Maybe someone asked for a refund a day too late, or a customer missed an appointment because their family member was in the hospital. It’s in these moments you can say “Thank you for your business” by making an exception to the rule.
10. Give someone an unexpected upgrade.
Imagine that you’ve taken yourself on a solo trip. It’s not your honeymoon or a celebratory vacation, just a long weekend for a little time away. You step up to the check-in desk at your hotel, and someone hands you a glass of champagne and a free upgrade! Are you excited, or what?
Little do you know, the hotel gives a random customer an upgrade every day — and today is your lucky day.
The best part of giving customers an upgrade is that it knocks people off their feet, and it doesn’t cost much. A hotel is not losing out, for example, by making sure someone enjoys a top-notch experience if their best suite is still available.
Be generous about giving upgrades, no matter what business you’re in. Offer the nicest table in a restaurant to one of your regulars or give a software upgrade to a long-time customer.
I hope that you find this blog useful and help you understand customer appreciation better.