Customer Appreciation: 13 Easy Things to Do Today (Guide)

This guide is all about the practice of customer appreciation!

We’re going to look at what customer appreciation is, why it’s important and different ways of showing your customers that you appreciate them.

We also give you some tips to make the most of your customer appreciation strategy in 2021.   

We know you appreciate your customers – they’re the lifeblood of your business, after all. But do your customers know that?

Do they feel like you genuinely care about them and value their patronage? Or do they feel like they’re just another order number to you?

The internet means that convenience is no longer linked to proximity and our options are endless.    

In a world where we can have just about any product or service, from a plethora of different providers, we’re looking at more than just good products and great service.

We’re looking for businesses that share our values and that value us in return. We’re looking for human interaction in a digital world. We’re looking for a connection.  

Customer appreciation is how you, as a business, nurture that connection and strengthen that relationship with your customers.

A good customer appreciation strategy will help you retain customers, boost customer satisfaction and earn customer loyalty.

Ready to learn how? Let’s dive right in!

What is Customer Appreciation?

Customer appreciation is the practice of actively communicating your gratitude to your customers for their support and patronage.  

How this works in practice varies from company to company, depending on the nature of the business and the size of the company.

For small, customer-facing, businesses it is often expressed in person and does not necessarily involve tangible rewards or gifts. When you’re seeing the majority of your customers in person and fairly often, it is much easier to foster a warm, human connection and express your gratitude informally.

However, for larger companies and online businesses, it is much more difficult to let each customer know that they’re seen and valued by you, as an individual. Fostering an emotional connection and a lasting relationship is much more difficult.

Customer Appreciation - Image Text Says "practicing customer appreciation, in an intentional and structured way, allows you to bridge the gap and from meaningful connections with your customers"

Even small businesses can struggle with this and a customer appreciation strategy can make all the difference!

There are many great ways to thank your customers and make them feel appreciated. Common practices include sending thank you messages, gifts, discount codes/coupons, branded swag or offering other free tokens of appreciation.

Practicing customer appreciation, in an intentional and structured way, allows you to bridge the gap and form a more meaningful connection with your customers.

Check out this short video by Derek Van Schaik Biz on YouTube for a quick snapshot of four useful thinks to know about customer appreciation:

Why Customer Appreciation is So Important

In the digital age, the competition is fierce. No matter what you do or how well you do it, every customer has a plethora of options to meet their needs.

Standing out and grabbing attention is difficult but keeping a customer’s attention and earning their continued support and loyalty is even harder.

Customers expect a great product and easy, efficient, and attentive service. However, having the best product and the best service doesn’t automatically translate into happy, loyal customers.

In an ever more online and impersonal world, forming human connections and relationships with your customers is essential.

Customer appreciation is one of the best ways to make your customers feel seen, heard, and appreciated.

When you take the time to thank them and let them know that their purchase was important to you, you’re telling them that they’re more than just an order number to you.

When your customers feel seen and valued, they’re more likely to keep using your company and to buy more from you each time. They’re also more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

According to G2, when customers have an emotional connection to a brand, the average customer lifetime value (CLV) goes up by 306%. And, the rate at which customers will recommend you goes up from 45% to 71%!

Ensuring that your customers know just how much care about them is key to retaining customers.

Customer Appreciation - text says "68% of customers will stop doing business with a company if they believe it does not care for them"

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 68% of customers will stop doing business with a company if they believe it does not care for them, while only 14% stop doing business with a company based on product dissatisfaction.

Clearly, making sure your customers know you care about them is very important!

13 Easy Ways to Show Your Customers That You Appreciate Them

Customer appreciation doesn’t have to be overly complicated or expensive. Here are 13 easy and inexpensive ways to show your customers just how much they mean to you:

1. Send a Personal Thank You Message

One of the easiest ways to express your gratitude is to send a simple message thanking your client for their support. You can send an email, a written letter, or a thank you card.

Make it as personal and sincere as possible. Use their name and include some details that distinguish them from other clients, such as a brief mention of the item they bought or a personal interaction you had with them.

 It is important not to include any promotional material or sales pitches here. Keep it about them and your gratitude to them.

Segueing into a sales pitch will come off as though you’re only thanking them to sell them something else and will defeat the object entirely.   

However, you can include a gift certificate or coupon or discount code to use on their next purchase with you or at another company you would like to support or you feel they would value.

Just make sure that you’re sincere and genuine, and make it about saying thank you – no strings attached.

Customer Appreciation - Screenshot of a hand written thank you note from Instagram

2. Spotlights, Features, and Shout-outs on Social Media

Featuring your customers or their businesses on your company social channels can be a great way to say thank you to them for using your products or services.

You can ask customers to send you photos and their information to include in the post and include links to their social channels or website. This generates some free marketing for them and gives you great content at the same time.

This works especially well if your businesses are aligned in some way or if there are common values you can highlight. On the other hand, if you’re a fast-food chain and they’re all about clean eating and fitness, it might not be the best idea!  

The Branded Beauty Bar does a social media post of the “BBB Client of the Week”, in which they spotlight loyal customers on their Instagram account.

Screenshot of the Branded Beauty Bar's customer of the week post from Instagram

3. Send Them a Personalized Gift

Personalized gifts are a great way to show your appreciation. If you have a customer’s purchase history and some basic information about them, you can choose something from your collection that they would like.

You can also purchase gifts from another company and send those if your company if you’re a service-based business.  

It doesn’t have to be expensive. As long as the gift is relevant and useful or valuable to your customer, it will be appreciated. The important part is to include a personalized note. Make it clear that the gift has been selected for them, as an individual.  

Chewy.com, a pet food retailer from Florida is great example of a company that uses personalized gifts for customer appreciation. They keep an eye on their customer’s social media pages and surprise them with unexpected gifts that are completely unique – painted portraits of their pets!

Customer appreciation - Screenshot of an Instagram post showing an owners Chewy Pet Portraits and the card they came with.

4. Send a Gift Card, Coupon, or Discount Code

You can reward your customers with a discount or special offer as a token of your appreciation for their support and a way of ‘giving something back’.

A percentage off the next purchase, an exclusive buy-one-get-one-free offer, or a gift / complimentary service are some ways to do this. You can also give gift certificates for other businesses, such as coffee shops or restaurants.

Text says "great customer appreciation is personalized, sincere, contextually valuable"

It is important to make sure that it is contextually relevant and valuable to your customer. Think about who they are and what they need, what they like, and where they are located.

Sending a Starbucks gift certificate to people where there is no local Starbucks or sending men a coupon for a female beauty treatment won’t work well at all!   

5. Offer a Free Upgrade

If you’re running a business that does subscriptions or different SaaS packages you can offer customers a free upgrade to the next tier. You can also do this if you have a tiered rewards program, like a loyalty or referral program.

This is a great way to thank them and show them that you value their patronage. It gives them access to greater value from your product or service and shows them that you’re invested in keeping them around.

Another example of free upgrades is when airlines or hotels upgrade a client to first class or a better room for free. Those kinds of surprises are universally loved!

Customer Appreciation - Instagram screenshot of a happy woman who had her ticket upgraded to first class

6. Gift Them Free Swag

People love swag! Free t-shirts, water bottles, caps, and key chains with your branding on them are an ever-popular way of thanking customers. These work especially well if your customer base is a young and casual demographic.

Combine your swag with a thoughtful, personalized, message to make it meaningful to the customer as an individual. Make sure you explicitly thank them, individually. Let them know that you have given this swag as a token of appreciation, rather than part of a generic promo.  

Energy bar makers Verb Energy, made swag packs for the holidays and posted them to social media with a thank you message and instructions for customers to enter the giveaway. This combined a traditional giveaway with customer appreciation to make a fun way to engage with customers.

Customer Appreciation - Verb Energy Swag Giveaway Screenshot off Instagram

7. Host an Event or Throw a Party for Your Customers

A dedicated event, just for your customers, is a great way to connect with them and strengthen your relationship. If the event can double as a valuable networking event for them, that is great too. Try to include guests or speakers who are relevant to your customer base and will add value to their lives.

It doesn’t have to be anything overly lavish or complicated. The important thing to make it a celebration of your customers, with them and their needs front and center.

It should be about providing a great experience for them, rather than a great promotional opportunity for you.

David Serpa, a real estate agent in Temecula, CA, organized a country music festival as a customer appreciation event – it brought his community and customer base together in a truly memorable way!  

8. Invite Them to Join Your Customer Loyalty or Referral Program

Customer appreciation, referral programs, and loyalty programs are a great combination! Loyalty and referral programs are not aimed at selling to customers but rather at rewarding them for staying with you and for sending their friends to you.

These programs make rewarding customers easy and straightforward, which can tie into your customer appreciation efforts well.   

Your invitation should be personalized and make it clear that you’re inviting them to join because you appreciate them.

It should also set out clearly the program can benefit them, without asking them to buy anything. The invitation can include a discount or gift if you would like to give one.

You can also tie a customer appreciation promotion into your loyalty program and offer your most loyal customers additional rewards or discounts.

An example of this is how Habitat for Humanity ran a discount sale for their Customer Appreciation Week with additional discounts for rewards card holders.

Screenshot of the Instagram post for the Customer appreciation week sale by habitat for humanity store in rio valley

9. Give Them Exclusive Early Access

For your most valuable or loyal customers, you can give them special or early access to sale events, access to invite-only product launches, or allow them the first choice for new sought-after items in your inventory.

This is one of the cheapest and most effective rewards you can offer. All you’re doing is allowing the buyers who buy the most from you, to get the VIP treatment they deserve.

Quirky fashion and accessories store Skinnydip uses “exclusive access” for loyal customers as an act of appreciation. They offer early access to sales and promotions for customers who spend more than £500 a year and are member of their tiered rewards program.

Customer appreciation - skinny dip rewards program

10. Give to the Causes That Matter to Your Customers  

Your ideal customers have similar values to your business and vice versa. People want to know that they’re supporting a business that shares their values and supports their ideals.

A great way to demonstrate this is to make donations to charities that matter to them. A small donation, made in their name, to a cause that is close to their heart is a great way to show your appreciation.

You can send them a personalized ‘certificate’, verifying the donation. Add a sincere note thanking them for their patronage and for helping you to support a worthy cause.

A great example of charitable giving on a customers behalf is Uncommon Goods, who donate $1 for every purchase made to a charity of the customers choice. Since they began the program in 2001, they have donated over $1,000,000!

Customer appreciation - screenshot of uncommon goods post stating that they donate 1 US Dollar for every purchase

11. Bend the Rules or Go the Extra Mile for Them  

In customer-facing businesses, there will be many, many opportunities to make a small exception for a loyal customer. Letting them in when they arrive 2 minutes after closing time or moving tables around to accommodate them when they didn’t book ahead can make all the difference.

It says that you know them and you appreciate them as a special customer, someone who isn’t just another face in the crowd. It says that they matter to you.

The best part about this kind of customer appreciation is that it’s free! It might cost you a little effort and a few minutes of your time, but the benefits in the long term are so worth it!  

12. Help Them Out in Difficult Times

The global Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the businesses that went out of their way to help their customers and communities during the pandemic.

There have been many great examples of businesses that put their customers first during this time. From large software companies that made their solutions freely accessible to schools and learners for distance learning; to smaller companies that allowed payment flexibility or waved interest in late payments when people were facing lockdowns and loss of income.  

Video recording and sharing service Loom made Loom Pro free for teachers and students at K-12 schools, universities, and educational institutions. They also cut the price for Loom Pro by 50% to help businesses and brands across the board.

The companies that went out of their way to help their customers will have those customers for years to come. Especially those that also took the time to connect with their customers on a personal level, at a time when people were so isolated and being forced to do most of their business online.  

13. Recognize and Acknowledge When Your Customers Go Out of Their Way for You

Occasionally, you will have a customer who works with you to solve their problem by giving you information to make your job easier or being extra patient while you work it out.

These customers are usually the ones that already have a connection with your business and will cut you some slack when you need it. It is very important to acknowledge these efforts and show your appreciation.

A short message or a quick call to say thank you and express how much that interaction meant to you, is a great way to nurture that relationship. The more your customers feel like you see them as people and appreciate them as individuals, the better!   

5 Quick Tips to Make the Most of Your Customer Appreciation Strategy

To make the most of your customer appreciation efforts, here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

#1: Personalize your communication

Use their first name and include specific details that let them know you know who they are and what they bought from you. Appreciation that feels generic won’t get the same response as genuine appreciation that is specific to them as an individual.

#2: Segment and tailor your offerings

Consider demographics, interests, and location when you’re choosing what you will gift to your customers. The more relevant it is to the customer, the more they will value and appreciate it. Many options may seem universal but can actually be completely useless and even frustrating to the wrong demographic or location.

#3: Make it about them

Customer appreciation is about recognizing and acknowledging them and how much you appreciate them. It is not about squeezing in a sales pitch or asking them for something. Talking about yourself here will detract from the core message.

#4: Be genuine and humanize your appreciation message

When it comes to saying thank you, you want to be sincere and as human, as you can be. You’re making a connection with an individual. A more casual tone and humble attitude will come across as a sincere expression of gratitude. When you say ‘thank you’ for a customer’s patronage, you’re acknowledging that you need them and their support is valuable to you.

#5: Make it share-worthy

In the age of social media, anything and everything we say or do is bound to end on social media. A happy client is likely to snap a photo or screenshot and post it for their friends to see.

Keep this in mind make it attractive! After all, it’s going to be out there and associated with your company name.

A beautiful card or email image and nice packaging are more likely to be shared than plain text and bubble wrap.

The same goes for events – create a gorgeous backdrop (with your branding on it) for photos so people can take their selfies and share them!   

Wrapping Up

In this guide, we defined customer appreciation and discussed why it is important. We went over 13 easy ways to show your customers that you appreciate them and ended off with five tips to make the most of your customer appreciation strategies.

You now have the tools to start your customer appreciation practice today!

References and Useful Resources

All Business: With Customer Appreciation, You Have the Advantage

Belly: Why Is Customer Appreciation So Important?

Acquire: Why Gratitude Should Power Your Customer Appreciation Strategy

Super Office: What Is A Customer Appreciation Strategy, And Why Do I Need One?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Customer Appreciation?

Customer appreciation is the practice of actively communicating your gratitude to your customers for their support and patronage. Common strategies include sending customers thank you notes, gifts and discounts as tokens of appreciation. There are many different ways to show appreciation to customers, check out the full guide for more info.

Why is customer appreciation important?

Customer appreciation is very important for nurturing and strengthening customer relationships, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. When done properly, customer appreciation develops personal connections between the customer and the business, creating a strong affinity between the customer and the brand.

How can I show my customers that I appreciate them?

There are many different ways of expressing your gratitude to your customers. Something as simple as a hand written note or a personalized email can let your customers know you appreciate them. Check out the full guide for more ideas.

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