Customer Appreciation

Showing customers that you value their business is a simple and effective way to gain customer loyalty and develop long-term relationships. Customer appreciation is the act of expressing gratitude and thankfulness to your customers for continuing to choose your business. 

Importance of customer appreciation

In today’s world, your customers have a lot of other choices for where they spend their money and time. Acknowledging this fact directly with your customers is important to show you understand how valuable their patronage is. After all, your customers continuing to purchase with you is the only way to stay in business.
Appreciating customers makes them feel valued, and not disposable. Reassuring customers that you care about them builds trust and a better relationship with them, just like other people in your life. They know that your business will keep them in mind when making decisions. 
This is the importance of customer appreciation. By spending just a little bit of time expressing gratitude to your customers for their business, their support, and their feedback, you can build stronger customer loyalty

Appreciate customers

20 Amazing Customer Appreciation Ideas

Customer appreciation doesn’t need to cost a lot or take a lot of effort to do well. Even the smallest token of appreciation can have a positive impact on a customer’s perception of your business. Here are 20 amazing customer appreciation ideas that you can use to show your customers how much you truly care about their business. 

1. Handwritten Thank You Notes

This classic way of saying thank-you works so well because it feels like something from another time. Because so few people send handwritten letters anymore, taking the time to write out a physical note really stands out. It’s more meaningful than a bulk email, but it’s still a cost-effective way to provide a little something extra. 
Use nice, high-quality stationery, and personalize the content. Sometimes non-branded paper is even nicer than something with your logo on it because it feels more personal. 

2. Discount Codes

Loyal customers tend to spend more money, more often than new customers. They already trust your product or service and understand the value of it. Why not reward them for continuing to come back? Whether it’s for a customer appreciation day, a bonus for being with you for a year, or a total surprise, a discount code is a great way to express appreciation. 
Customers love finding discount codes in their inbox. Plus, it works to boost sales too! Customers with a discount code might splurge on something they wouldn’t normally buy.

3. SWAG

SWAG, sweet-as giveaways, schwag or branded gifts - whatever you call it, these are pretty special gifts to get from companies. Swag can be anything from a sticker to a water bottle or a t-shirt that features your company branding and makes your customer smile every time they see it. 
Don’t skimp on the quality because you want to make sure your customer actually uses what you’re giving them. High-quality t-shirts and fashionable socks are often some of the most desirable swag out there. To conserve costs, keep the best-branded gear for your highest value customers to give them a little extra appreciation. 

4. Customer Dinners

Perhaps a more expensive way to appreciate your high-value customers, but definitely a valuable experience that means a lot to your customers. 
If you’re visiting a city where a few customers are located or attending an industry conference, host a small dinner for customers. Not only do they feel special, but you also can talk to them in an intimate setting and learn more about what they need. That’s a bond that pays off in the long run. 

5. Shoutouts on social media 

Featuring customers on social media is a pleasant way to say “we see what you’re doing and we support you!” Whether it’s to say thank you for joining, retweeting their success story or sharing an initiative they need help promoting, talking about your customers has so many advantages. Customers are thrilled for the exposure, it’s essentially free for you and you also get some benefit from being tangentially involved in the success of your clients. 

6. Beta programs

Your power users love seeing new and upcoming features that can help them be more successful. It’s even better if they get early access to these features through a beta program. 
What better way to say you appreciate your customer’s insights and opinions than letting them help bring a new feature to market? They will feel flattered that you thought to involve them, and feel more invested in the success of your product. 

7. Free upgrades

Anytime you can move customers up to a higher tier with an upgrade is a great way to say thank you. For example, even though it costs you nothing, offering free seat upgrades to loyal airline customers is an easy way to make someone’s day. This works for a variety of industries too. For example, companies can upgrade a customer to one-day shipping as a way to say thank you. 

8. Invites to events

Got a few extra tickets kicking around for an industry event? Give them away to loyal customers to thank them for their business. They’ll feel honored to be your guest, and you can treat them like VIPs while they are with you. 

9. Surprise and delight

People love pleasant surprises. When you’re not expecting something, a gift has an even more positive effect. For your company, this might take many forms, like a handwritten note, a gift card to a coffee company or a free upgrade. Regardless of how you do it, the important part is the surprise. While it’s nice to thank customers right after they purchase, it’s even more unexpected when it comes out of the blue. 

10. Holiday cards

Remembering your customers on the holidays is a fun way of appreciating them year round, even if they haven’t recently purchased from you. Whether you’re sending Mother’s Day Cards, or winter seasonal cards, taking the extra time to personalize each one can go a long way to making your customer feel special. 

11. Personalization

Treat every customer as an individual by thanking them personally, with something that is unique to them. Personalized gestures are a great way to tell the customer you care about them. Do you offer a product or service that can be personalized? Customers strongly identify with something that was made just for them - whether it’s an embossed leather product or a gift basket with their name on it. Personalization can even be as simple as just taking the time to have a conversation with them about a shared interest when they email in for help. 

12. Celebrate milestones

If you run a social media account, take the time to thank your fans and followers when you hit milestones. For example, when you acquire your 30,000th follower on Instagram, share a discount code for 30% off on your website. Or do a giveaway with all of your followers when you’ve been in business for a year. Taking the time to say thank you to your biggest fans rewards them for being with you from the beginning.

13. Personalized videos

Videos are gaining popularity as a common way to personalize interactions with customers. They feel very genuine because they can’t be “faked” or even automated. Customers know that you took the time to record something just for them, and that feels special. 
Use a video to say thank you for their recent purchase or to respond to a customer service question. Make sure to personalize it and speak directly to the customer for maximum effect. 

14. Birthday specials

Birthdays are a big opportunity to make someone feel special! If you can offer a discount code, a freebie or even a cupcake, it’s a nice way to shine a little extra attention to a customer. And they will likely be flattered that you remembered! 

15. Samples

Free samples are one of the greatest things to toss in order for a customer on its way out the door. Everyone loves getting free things, and they can test out new products before they commit to buying them. You might even get a few reviews from customers trying them out, so it’s a win-win. 

16. Job board

Help your customers grow their skills by offering networking connections. A job board (or even just sharing new opportunities) from within the industry can help with your customer’s professional development. Elevating the careers of your customers is a nice way to give back to them. 

17. Sponsorship

There are so many different initiatives you can sponsor for your customers. Whether it’s a fundraiser for a cause close to their heart, an industry event or meet-up that’s looking for help or a community non-profit - giving back to your customers is a great way to say thank you for supporting your business over the years. 
Put aside a budget for sponsorship and some criteria for using it. Do you only want to support your local community? What kind of interests will your company give to? Do you only want to sponsor existing customers? By having guidelines set up, it makes responding to sponsorship requests really straightforward. 

18. Support their businesses

Find ways to cross-promote and partner with your customers. Especially if you work with small business customers, anyway that you can help them grow their business is a lovely way to give back. If you can purchase their products to use in your office or in your workflow, they will appreciate your business! 

19. Listen to them

Nothing says that you appreciate your customers more than asking for their thoughts, and then acting on them. Respecting the opinions of your customers shows how much you value their continued business and their authority on what they need. Customers provide feedback all the time. Instead of telling customers what they want, listen to them - it’s one of the easiest ways to show your appreciation. 

20. Say thank you and mean it

Finally, the easiest way of appreciating your customers is to genuinely thank them, as often and as enthusiastically as possible. Build a culture of gratitude into your business that recognizes the importance of customers, especially those that come back often and recommend you to their friends and family.

A genuine expression of appreciation is specific, personal and heartfelt. It draws attention to a specific thing that the customer did and explains why you are so grateful for it. For example:

  • Thank you so much for flagging this bug for us. We really appreciate your time to work with us on getting it fixed.
  • I really appreciate your recommendation to Paul at TopGadgets. We’ve already talked about how we can help with his business, and it’s going to be a great partnership going forward. 
  • We’re genuinely thankful that you continue to purchase your office supplies from us. Thank you so much. 

Developing a customer appreciation strategy

Instead of being sporadic or casual about your customer appreciation strategy, take the time to put into writing exactly how and when you’ll thank your customers. Formalizing your strategy for gratitude might sound counterintuitive, as many of the best thank you’s are spontaneous, but it has several advantages.

Accountability

Having a schedule of when and how you’ll appreciate customers makes sure that it actually happens. If you don’t have anything written down, it’s easy to think you’ll get around to sending that note or ordering that swag tomorrow. Because customers aren’t contacting you asking to be appreciated, it’s often the first thing to slip, but it’s also one of the biggest opportunities for improving customer loyalty.

Financial Responsibility

Without a dedicated plan, it’s tough to budget for customer appreciation. How much money will you put towards sponsorship this year? Which department actually needs to pay for the new stationery? A customer appreciation strategy helps dedicate funds to the projects that need it.

Measurability

If you approach customer appreciation randomly and inconsistently, it’s impossible to measure the benefits of it. Tracking your customer appreciation activities will help show the return on investment of your time and money. It will show you what appreciation activities have the biggest payoff, and which ones don’t necessarily work for your customers.

Questions to address before putting together an appreciation strategy

The first step to putting together a customer appreciation strategy is to decide how you want to thank your customers. There are several questions to ask to determine which ideas will work best for your business.

Understanding what your customers will value is the first part of determining how you can thank them. Then, look into what you have available to offer as a thank you. Matching what your customers' value with what you can provide is the key to an effective appreciation strategy.

Budgeting for customer appreciation

Once you’ve taken stock of what you’d like to offer customers, it’s time to put it in your budget and make sure you can afford it. For each type of appreciation tactic you’d like to explore, decide how much it would cost for one customer (ie. the cost of 1 sticker or free shipping) and then decide how many customers you’d like to appreciate with that specific tactic.

Knowing your profit margins is really important when it comes to offering discounts. A 30% discount code might be more than you can afford on some of your products or services. If you share a discount code to all of your followers on Facebook, plan for many of them to take you up on it and don’t discount products below cost.

Make sure to plan for a variety of ideas, from the very frugal (like just saying thank you in an email!) to discounts to more high-value activities like customer dinners or sponsorships. There are ideas to fit every budget because appreciating customers don’t always have to be expensive.

Delivering on customer appreciation

You’ve made a plan and know that you can afford it. Now you actually have to make it happen.

Getting your team on board usually won’t be too difficult, because doing nice things for customers feels nice. But even if everyone agrees in theory, it can be hard to remember and make time for delivering on customer appreciation tactics. This is why building in time and processes for thanking customers is the key to making it happen.

Decide who on the team is responsible for each tactic. If you need to write handwritten cards, is that something that everyone on the team does themselves, or do you have an “appreciation” person who manages the process? Can you build free samples into your shipping process? Any way that you can incorporate gratitude into your team’s workflows can help.

Another option is to make customer appreciation part of your team’s key performance metrics. Include gratitude on ticket quality assurance rubrics or set a quota for every team member to send out five handwritten cards each quarter. What gets measured gets done, so set a target for your team and make it happen.

The more normalized customer appreciation becomes, the more frequently you’ll see it happen. It’s all about creating a culture where anyone in the company feels empowered to surprise and delight customers using the processes you’ve set up for customer appreciation.

Measuring the success of customer appreciation

Customer appreciation is key to developing customer loyalty and increasing customer retention. In order to measure the impact your customer appreciation strategy has on your business’s financial metrics, you’ll need to look at the associated changes in retention and sales.

For example, does offering a discount code to a loyal customer increase their order size or the frequency of their purchases? That increase is the direct result of any investment in customer appreciation. If you’re genuinely thanking customers in support inquiries, do you see customer satisfaction and customer retention increase?

You could also measure how much positive buzz or social media activity your customer appreciation strategy generates by tracking online mentions. Customer appreciation is great PR.

To measure how customer appreciation improves loyalty, choose a few metrics that you want to impact by appreciating customers and track them both before and after your strategy goes live.

Appreciating customers is good customer service

Being grateful to your customers isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s good customer service. Customers who feel valued by your company will continue to come back, continue to recommend your products and services to their community and continue to offer up advice and feedback to make your company better.

By building in customer appreciation tactics to your everyday workflow, you can start building a culture of gratitude in your customer service team and throughout your company. You’ll build a happier, more enthusiastically satisfied customer base.