In the spirit of the holidays, many businesses want to show appreciation for their customers via special communications or gifts. But often these actions either get lost in the holiday hustle bustle, or misinterpreted as marketing gimmicks. Here are a few tips to make your efforts truly express your thanks:
- Look for ways to get out of the noise and mail piles. From now until year-end, marketers are filling inboxes and mailboxes with advertisements and offers. Consider sending your appreciation notes at a less noisy time, such as January or Spring.
- Be as personal as possible. A hand written note, a personal call from a staff member or even a heart-felt email customized to that customer all make the difference. Even companies like Zappos with many, many customers find ways to connect on a very personal level. Empower your customer-facing staff to be able to spend the time, care and personalization needed to truly “serve” customers. (My favorite local Italian restaurant always brings my teens and me our favorite beverages, even before our order. That care and personal touch keep me coming back more than any coupon or free dessert offer.)
- Be unexpected and surprising. Research on the psychology of rewards shows that reward when expected and stated up front (like “refer a friend and get a discount”) are processed as “payments” or expected “tit for tat”. Rewards given at unexpected times and not tied to an action (like a purchase) are instead processed with delight and surprise and feel more like a true gift.
- Tie gifts to your value. Rather than a straight discount or generic holiday basket, think of ways your gift will serve as a reminder of the value of your relationship. One firm I know delivers a beautiful plant to their customers with the note “Here is to our continued growth in the New Year.” Other companies give contributions to related or local non-profits in the name of their clients.
And here is a great free eBook from HelpScout: 25 Ways to Thank Your Customers.