a blog from CenturyLink

6 customer appreciation ideas for small businesses

by | Feb 19, 2021


Why do your customers choose to shop with you or use your services? Maybe your business offers stellar products or services, or you provide great customer service, or your location is the most convenient option for them. Maybe you’ve used marketing or other acquisition tactics to build your customer base. Either way, it’s time to show your customer appreciation using these fun ideas.

Showing your customers appreciate can be as simple as giving them a freebie

Why should you show customer appreciation?

Whatever the reason for their initial interest in your business, acquiring a customer is only the first step. Many businesses experience customer churn, or the event where customers stop buying or using your products or services. Research suggests that feeling unappreciated or unvalued by a business can lead to customer churn.

Losing customers can be hard on businesses, especially since the cost of acquiring a new customer can be high. Showing your appreciation can help you retain your customers, increasing their lifetime value and helping you build advocates for your business.

1. Send a handwritten small business thank you note

Up first in our list of customer appreciation ideas is the simple thank you note. It may not seem like much, but the value of a personalized thank you note cannot be understated. It’s not only an inexpensive way to demonstrate your gratitude, but it’s also an opportunity to personalize a message for your customer and make them feel special.

Start by including handwritten notes in customer packages after purchases. Or send a note after they’ve come in for an appointment or service. You can also send them on Thanksgiving or Customer Appreciation Day. But don’t feel limited by those special days. Thank you notes can be effective throughout the year. You can also surprise your customer with an unexpected and genuine thank you out of the blue.

2. Create a special promo offer

Surprises are fun – and they have a demonstrated impact in driving positive interactions and soliciting attention for brands. Dazzling your customers can be as simple as including a small gift with a purchase, offering an unexpected discount or upgrade, or including a free sticker or t-shirt along with a thank you note. Or send them a special discount code, just for them.

A personalized thank you note is a great way to show your customers how much you appreciate their business

3. Celebrate milestones

Show your customers how well you know them and how much you care by marking important milestones. Many businesses celebrate their customers by sending birthday emails, which happens seamlessly using information from your customer database and email automation. This is a great opportunity to thank your customers, whether it’s a discount, free birthday gift, or gift card.

Another customer appreciation idea is to celebrate the one-year anniversary of when they became a customer to let them know how much you appreciate them. Or give back to your customers on your 5th, 10th, or 25th year of business—they are, after all, the ones who helped make your success possible!

4. Ask for feedback

Customers want to know they’ve been heard and that you’re truly engaged, whether they’re gushing about the fabulous food or service or logging a complaint. Getting feedback from your customers can be valuable. Not only will you learn how your business, products, or services are impacting people, but it will also give your customers the opportunity to sound off.

To get their feedback, you can send customers a survey or reach out via phone call to learn more. It’s equally important to respond to comments people leave about your business on social media, Google reviews, or other feedback forums. You can take this a step farther by asking longtime or regular customers to participate in user groups or to demo new products or services first. Getting feedback is also an opportunity to gather testimonials from your biggest fans or develop other ideas for customer appreciation.

One way to show customer appreciation is including a free gift in their next purchase

5. Reward their loyalty

A customer loyalty program is designed to make one-time or occasional customers into repeat purchasers by offering rewards after a certain number of purchases. The most familiar type is the punch card program used by coffee shops and pizza places alike. But many other businesses can set up a similar program designed to drive customer loyalty. Thanks to computerized point of sale systems or online tools, much of the program can be handled automatically.

Loyalty perks could include discounts or free items at your business, complimentary upgrades, free shipping, or access to exclusive sales. You can also reward members after they’ve spent a certain amount of money with your business, offering rewards at $50, $100, or $500 of purchases.

6. Make VIPs feel special

Your longtime customers are often your most valuable, so give them the VIP treatment. As an example, offer special return policies to your regular customers or members of your loyalty program. For example, if your standard return policy is 30 days and the receipt is required, offer 60 days with or without a receipt to VIPs.

Whatever you choose, a surprise is a great way to stay top of mind and to generate buzz about your business by creating experiences that are worth sharing

You could also create a VIP Facebook group, Slack channel, or Discord community. Give them special access to a dedicated customer service team or an exclusive sale. Another tactic is to use user-generated content on social media and share the posts that your customers make about your business, products, or services.

7. Host fun and informative events

Every July 11, national convenience store chain 7-11 celebrates by giving their customers free Slurpees. It’s a fun and free event that their customers look forward to every year. Ben and Jerry’s does something similar with Free Cone Day on April 18 on Customer Appreciation Day. You can create your own annual celebration for your customers to show them how much you appreciate them.

Another customer appreciation idea is to throw a full-on customer appreciation week. B2B businesses may want to support their customers with webinars or other informational sessions from industry experts and thought leaders, while B2C businesses could host daily promotions for their customers.

8. Support a cause your customer cares about 

One of the best ideas you can use to show off your customer appreciation is to celebrate the causes your customers care most about. You can find out by surveying your customers or asking your VIPs what causes they support. From there, you can host a fundraiser for the cause or donate on your customers’ behalf. Try this customer appreciation idea especially if your customers support a cause that’s local to your community. It’s a great way to show community support.

Last words

Customer appreciation ideas can help you boost customer retention and create both brand affinity and brand loyalty. And it doesn’t have to be expensive—even a simple thank you note or remembering their birthday can go a long way. When you go to express your gratitude, be sure to convey that you and your employees truly appreciate your customers’ business. Your company grew and thrived because of their patronage, so let them know how important they’ve been to your success.

Want to learn more about small business? Visit the CenturyLink Discover blog today for more articles on small business and the technology that helps them run.

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