Five Creative Ways to Show Customer Appreciation

For most businesses, it’s not enough to make a sale or sign a customer – you want happy customers, repeat customers who will gladly return for more. Whether you’re selling a product or a service, keeping your customers satisfied is a key part of a sustainable business model.

Finding creative ways to show your customers you really appreciate their business – going beyond a simple “Thank you” email – is a smart investment for several reasons:

  • Word of mouth is often more valuable than professional advertising, marketing, and PRpeople trust their networks more than companies. Giving your customers some perks is a good way to get them talking about you, and hopefully recommending you to friends and family.
  • More and more buyers look for online reviews before making a purchase. Generally, people don’t bother to write a positive review unless service really goes above and beyond. Thanking your customers creatively is a great way to get some raves on sites like Yelp.
  • Guess what? The recession isn’t really over yet, and that means every customer in your database is precious. You can’t afford to lose them, and investing a little time and money into keeping your current customers is likely far more cost-effective than replacing them.

The truth is, you probably don’t need convincing on this point – you know it’s important to show clients a little love. But you may be short on ideas for ways to thank them that don’t seem tired and routine. Below you’ll find five creative solutions to the problem. Give these approaches a shot and you’ll get buzz, referrals and happy customers in return.

Reward with Expertise

Not all gifts need to be monetary. You’re an expert in your field, and you customers have come to you to buy a piece of that knowledge. Many businesses have built a loyal following by regularly sharing unique, informative content in a newsletter. The trick is not to use the newsletter strictly for promotional purposes. If you’re really offering useful information, customers won’t hit the “Unsubscribe” button, and by continuing to engage with your brand, they’re more likely to shop with you again in the future.

Creative Rewards Programs

There’s a great Mexican place near my parents’ house that we’ve been going to for decades. Recently, they initiated a kind of rewards club for frequent customers. My parents now get regular coupons in the mail with great deals like 2-for-the-price-of-1 dinners or free drinks with a meal. It’s a really clever way to keep regulars like my parents coming back again and again, and to give some incentive for new customers to become regulars. This is a no-brainer approach that works for restaurants, bars, and all kinds of services businesses – think salon, spa, car wash.

Unique Corporate Gifts

Swag printed with your corporate logo – pens, vests, mugs, etc – is an old standby in the world of customer appreciation. You’re giving your customers a token of appreciation and strengthening your brand at the same time. For a more unusual twist on this theme, how about custom logo cookies – yummy treats printed with the image and text you provide, in edible ink! Your clients likely won’t have seen these before, and since they clearly weren’t lying around in a storage room for months on end, it shows an extra level of effort and appreciation.

Spotlight Your Customers

If you’re a B2B company, a great way to show your customers some appreciation is to highlight them on your site or in your newsletter in a “Customer Spotlight” capacity. Showing how a client used your product or service to good effect is a great marketing tool for you – you might consider using video or photos to create a more visually appealing version of a case study. And you’ll also be passing business and free PR on to that customer. Not many businesses would turn that down.

Perks for Feedback

Asking your current clients for feedback, and offering them something in return, kills two birds with one stone. You get great tips on ways to improve your offering from the people who count, and boost their opinion of you in the process. Depending on how many clients are on your list, you may be able to offer a small reward to anyone willing to respond to a survey. If that’s impossible, you can enter survey respondents into a drawing for a prize. In addition, you could offer a reward of some kind for providing a testimonial. This could be as simple as a link to the client’s site, discounts on products or services, or a gift certificate.

Hopefully these ideas will get you started. When it comes to customer appreciation, the only real mistake you can make is not showing any! So make some room in your budget and schedule for strategies that will build a devoted following.

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Author: Stephen Pazyra (1 Articles)

Stephen Pazyra

Stephen Pazyra is founder and CEO of 1-800-Bakery, an online bakery that delivers premium baked goods with a commitment to quality and freshness.

Comments

  1. i like this post.i will learn from this steps cause im planing to enter in the flower shop business.

  2. Positive word of mouth advertising is certainly invaluable. (I make an effort to give props to exceptional businesses where possible.) Businesses that shows their customers that they care enough to take that extra step (clearly) have a much better chance of success, so it’s interesting to note how few of them actually do it.
    Thanks for the creative tips.

  3. Hey these are some very positive words! Thanks for sharing such a great opinion openly on the web. Today you don’t see many activists taking charge of their debates but truly Small Business Branding has the right ideas!

  4. Thank you for the tips, I think will use some of them for attracting customers.

    BTW, in my opinion creative (and useful) gifts is the strongest tool to create a positive image of your company.

  5. Bravo! What an interesting post. I discovered your blog amongst the listings at twitterpower150.com and I am glad I did. Recently we did “spot light” a few of our key customers! Reading your post re-assured me that my staff was on the right track. I’ve contacted my social media director and encouraged her to post a few of your articles on our Facebook business page. We also will pipe in a few more of your postings via our other social media outlets using Shareaholic! Here’s to 2011 being your best year Ever! Cheers.

    DL Turner
    SysCorp Worldwide LLC
    St. Louis | Chicago

  6. Great article some ideas really hit the spot!!

  7. Unique corporate gifts are much appreciated, but if you want to do something particularly substantial, you can “adopt” a partner community where your consumers are based and do charity work with them.

  8. All the ways are interesting and it is easy to practice them. it is really important to satisfy the customers.

  9. We have recently printed a little 1/3 page sheet printed with our Facebook info on it, and then we ask the most satisfied patients to write a review for us on Yelp, Google Maps, and/or Kudzu. We will see how it goes!

  10. Businesses that shows their customers that they care enough to take that extra step (clearly) have a much better chance of success, so it’s interesting to note how few of them actually do it.

  11. These are good examples of customer appreciation techniques, but I don’t know that any of them are really all that new or creative.

    Believe it or not I’ve already seen my fair share of helpful corporate newsletters, restaurant coupons, edible ink cookies, customer spotlights, and survey prizes. I would go so far to say that these ideas are already a little tired.

    At the end of the day, real customer appreciation doesn’t have to be all that creative. For today’s customers I think you just need to go above and beyond on a regular basis service-wise and you’ll see those positive reviews start to roll in.

  12. Customer Service underpins business growth, this tends to be forgotten by a lot of businesses…

  13. Marlen Komar says:

    I really agree with the “creative rewards program” bit, when a customer feels individually valued by the business, no matter how big or small, they will definitely come back. One great way to give out rewards is through Twitter. The reason I say this is because almost everyone is on it and most have it on their phone so they’re always connected to it. Just take the example of SouthWest Airlines- they give out exclusive discounts only through Twitter as a reward for their customers following them. Now that shows appreciation.

    Marlen Komar

  14. I run a small B2C website and we’ve found the best way to show our customers we appreciate them is to trust them when they have a complaint. If a customer says a product arrived defective, we ship a new one no questions asked. If they are angry that an order placed late Friday night with Next Day Air shipping didn’t arrive Saturday morning, we refund the shipping. We have found that the customers that become our best advocates are the ones whose orders had problems. When we fix these problems easily and quickly, customers (particulary ecommerce customers) become very loyal.

  15. I agree that rewards should not be limited to high buying customers but also to those willing to give a quality testimonial. We are going to implement a contest to solciit the best video review which should be a win win for both sides. Customers get the thrill of competing in a contest and the company hopefully gets a good amount of quality videos!

  16. This post was really good, it is time for businesses to do things different. Some really good idea’s

  17. Great post. Thanks for the insight. Much appreciated.

  18. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

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