We appreciate our customers and we all know it is important to thank them. Yet, do we do it in the best way and at the best time?
Asking clients about their level of satisfaction and thanking them for their business should be part of our routine. I believe in thanking people throughout the year in different ways. This also gives me an opportunity to ask them for a referral.
When Do You Send Gifts of Thanks?
Many companies like to give gifts during the holidays to show their appreciation. Believe it or not, this is a tradition I avoid. I am going to tell you why I think giving gifts during the holiday season is a bad idea.
In sales, we always want to differentiate ourselves. When we send a gift or card during the holidays as a thank you, we risk getting lost in the sea of gifts and cards that are deluged upon everyone. Most of us don’t need another gift basket between Thanksgiving and the New Year. There’s already too much holiday food at the office during this time of year and no place left to put another card. Now, I am not writing this to make you feel bad if you are one of those people who send holiday cards or delivers gift baskets. And if you want to do it and it makes you feel good – keep doing it. I am here to tell you that it is tough to differentiate yourself from the masses and your thank yous may get missed or have less impact than if you deliver it at a different time of year.
I’d like to suggest that you be more creative when showing your appreciation for clients (vendors and employees) thus differentiating your company and getting more notice. I got this idea from reading a wonderful book called, “I’m in Charge of Celebrations.” It gives you permission to celebrate anything you want, anytime you want.
A fun time to appreciate your customers might be Valentine’s Day. One year I bought heart cookies from one of my clients to give to all my other clients with a note that said, “Alice Heiman, LLC loves their clients.”
Different Ways to Thank Your Clients
1. Call and say thank you
You can do this anytime and it doesn’t cost much, just a bit of someone’s time. Plan what you are going to say and then pick up the phone and call. “I called to say thank you for your business. We really appreciate you.” If you get their voicemail, you can leave a nice message.
2. Send a Note
Again, you can do this anytime and it doesn’t cost much. I purchase beautiful note cards from a local artist. They have seasonal photographs of the area and some of our famous local events. I write a personal note in each card and send it off. I do it all year long and send to different customers, past customers and prospects. I send about 5 a week.
3. Deliver a Gift
This is the one we all seem to be stuck on doing during the holiday season. Valentine’s Day is a great time to deliver a gift. You can send candy, chocolates, cupcakes or flowers! 4th of July might be fun. Send a basket of goodies for munching while watching the fireworks. You could deliver a gift to a different client each month of the year, which might be easier on your budget. Choose which customers you will deliver to and skip December. Don’t forget about promotional products as gifts. According to American Business Solutions, promotional bags are kept up to 9 months which gives your brand plenty of impressions.
4. Hold an Event
I usually hold a customer appreciation event once a year and invite all of my current and past clients. This can be done in conjunction with a trade show or conference or anytime, except around the holidays when there are already too many events. I usually hold mine in the late summer or early fall, when the weather is still nice, so we can celebrate outdoors. You could also offer promotional items in conjunction with your event. For example, if you’re throwing a BBQ for your clients why not get some reusable promotional to-go cups.
5. Offer Specials or Discounts
Often companies offer their prospects deals to get them to purchase, but what about loyal customers? How about a customer loyalty program or an annual customer special with a buy some get some free? Another idea would be to have a customer appreciation month and offer a discount for orders placed during that month.
6. Send them Referrals
Your clients will love to get referrals from you, it’s the nicest gift of all. It may not be possible to refer to all your clients or to do it all the time but think about it. Is there a way you can refer people to any of your clients?
7. Give a Great Read
Look at the books that you’ve read that have made a big impact in your life or business. Give one as a gift to your clients. This offers your clients insights about your company culture and gives you the opportunity to open the line of communication for future discussion about the book. Don’t forget to write a personalized note that goes inside or with the book, so your clients know it’s a thank you meant just for them!
8. Spotlight Clients
Give your clients a shout out on social media. You can send them a tweet and tag them and their company. This gives them publicity and lets them know how much they mean to you! You can also feature clients on your website. This makes them feel valued and gives them a sense of pride in being your client.
9. Give a Charitable Gift
You could reach out to your clients and let them know you’d like to contribute to their favorite charity in their honor.
You could do any or all the above to show your appreciation and say thank you. It’s best to sit down with your team and discuss your customer appreciation plan. Choose from the ideas above or come up with your own. Customer appreciation is important, but it doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or during the holidays.