Your customers are the most important factor in your company’s success - and you probably are very grateful for them. But do they know that? And can they feel that gratitude and appreciation on a regular basis?
If not, then you should be investing in customer appreciation. When done right, this can help your business strengthen relationships with your valued customers and keep them loyal for life.
The opportunities to appreciate your customers are nearly infinite - but here are 17 of the most effective and useful ideas to inspire you.
What is customer appreciation?
Customer appreciation is how you show your customers that you are grateful for their loyalty - it makes them feel seen and valued.
After all, your customers likely have many choices when they go to make a purchase, and they’ve chosen your company. Letting them know you see and feel grateful for their business is what customer appreciation is all about.
Why is it important?
Why is customer appreciation important? There are many reasons it’s something every business should invest in.
The numbers don’t lie - customer appreciation has a strong impact on retention and loyalty. Sixty-nine percent of customers choose where to purchase from based on where they can earn customer loyalty points and rewards.
Appreciating the customers you already have can also help you gain new customers. More than 70% of consumers are more likely to recommend a company that offers a loyalty program they like, giving you increased word-of-mouth marketing. And these referrals can also build authority and trust in your brand among current and potential customers.
In a crowded and competitive marketplace where it’s increasingly difficult to stand out from your competitors based on products or price, customer appreciation can be an important differentiator. Customers these days expect a higher level of service and care - and your customer appreciation program can help you deliver.
At its heart, customer appreciation is all about building stronger relationships with your customers.
Qualities of effective customer appreciation
Effective customer appreciation looks different for every company, depending on your industry and your customers. But there are a few universal qualities of great customer appreciation every business should strive to deliver.
Memorable and meaningful: delivering a generic experience copied from one of your competitors isn’t going to do the job - your appreciation must be distinct and memorable to reap the benefits
Unexpected: simply delivering what you promise is essential to good customer service, but it doesn’t show customers that you care - appreciation needs to be unexpected to have an impact
Sincere: customers these days are savvy and can sniff out insincere attempts to win them over - be sure your appreciation program is authentic
Wallet-friendly: appreciation doesn’t need to be extravagant - in fact, that makes it harder to reach more customers
17 high-value customer appreciation ideas
How do you appreciate loyal customers? Here are 17 of the most effective ways to show your customers your appreciation and gratitude - choose one or more that work for your unique business and be sure to put your own spin on it.
#1 Give special attention to loyal customers
With the advanced access to customer data most businesses have these days, you probably already know a lot about your customers - so why not put that data to use for them? You can go out of your way to offer your most loyal customers special deals and discounts.
For example, the next time one of your top customers checks out your online store, you can offer them an extra discount on an item they have bought frequently - even if it’s not in their shopping cart yet. This can encourage an extra purchase while rewarding customer loyalty.
#2 Give special attention to not-so-loyal customers
Special attention can be given to customers who have made one or a few purchases and failed to return as well. Try sending those customers an email or card that says “We miss you!” with a discount or special offer and see if they come back to make a purchase.
#3 Don’t overlook small gestures
Customer appreciation doesn’t need to be over the top to be effective. The smallest gestures can actually make the biggest difference.
Greeting customers in a friendly way when they enter and leave your store, even if they don’t make a purchase, creates an inviting atmosphere. If you run an ecommerce business, you can use your website to create the same effect.
#4 Offer a birthday reward
If you have a CRM or other customer data system, there’s a good chance you know when your customers have a birthday coming up. Sending out a note via email or mail wishing them a happy birthday and offering a reward or discount to celebrate has several benefits.
It makes customers feel seen and cared for - you’re showing them you pay attention to the details. And getting a treat on their birthday can encourage them to return to your business to pick it up and make an additional purchase, increasing customer retention and loyalty.
#5 Write appreciation notes
Customer appreciation letters and notes can be inexpensive and effective ways to show customers you care. It’s a personal way to demonstrate your genuine appreciation to customers.
You can include a small hand-written thank you note with purchases, especially if it’s a first-time purchase or a significant one. Or it can be sent at a time that’s meaningful to your company, such as an anniversary or on a big milestone, thanking them for helping you grow to get where you are today.
Just be sure to make it all about the customers - not about your business.
#6 Share customer photos on social media
Customers love to see their favorite brands sharing their pictures on social media platforms. If a customer takes a great picture of your product or while at your store or location, share it and tag them!
It helps you to get authentic content out to your followers, and makes your customer feel great as well. And it can increase your reach as your customers share more photos in the hope of being featured - free and effective advertising for your business.
#7 Share expert tips and knowledge
Customers appreciate feeling like your business is rewarding them for their loyalty by providing them with expert advice and knowledge, often just as much as discounts or rewards. In fact, this is a great alternative if loyalty programs and discounts aren’t feasible for your business.
You can start a newsletter for your customers sharing the latest industry wisdom and advice to help your customers succeed. Videos are also a great medium for sharing this kind of actionable expert content. Content for a SaaS business could be in-depth industry advice, or cooking tips and tricks for a cookware company - the possibilities are endless.
The only investment here is the time it takes to write or film a quick video, and your customers will feel that you’re invested in their success. That’s an incredibly valuable form of appreciation.
#8 Create a loyalty program
If it works for your business, a loyalty program can provide many benefits. It can encourage customers to return over and over to get the rewards they’re promised, increasing retention significantly. And if your rewards are valuable and targeted to the needs of your most loyal customers, your customers will feel appreciated and valued.
There are many levels of customer loyalty programs. One of the simplest to set up is the classic punch card system - buy nine ice cream cones/massages/landscaping sessions and get the tenth free, for example. Or you can create a more advanced customer loyalty program with various levels based on spend or referrals.
#9 Throw in a free gift
Everyone loves a freebie, even if it’s small. And this can be a great way to get rid of inventory that hasn’t sold as well as you hoped. Or it can be an effective way to introduce customers to a new product you hope they’ll try and love.
Including a small customer appreciation gift with purchase is a tried-and-true retail tactic for a reason - customers love it. You can encourage customers to spend more by tying the gift to a certain dollar threshold, or simply add the gift into their shopping bag or box before it’s delivered.
#10 Have a client / customer appreciation sale
If your business has a slow season, you can celebrate your customers while increasing revenue by holding a customer appreciation day sale. Invite all of your customers to the sale and offer them extra discounts if they bring a friend too, increasing your reach.
#11 Send out coupons or discounts
Mailing or emailing out discounts and coupons to your customers shows that you appreciate their previous purchases and rewards them for returning, increasing retention and loyalty. Plus, it may encourage some customers who haven’t bought in a while to make a new purchase if the discount is tempting enough.
#12 Donate to charity
People like to purchase from companies that give back to their communities and the world - it makes them feel good. That’s why many companies donate a portion of their sales on behalf of their customers.
This tactic can give your customers an even better feeling when they visit your store, and can encourage them to spend a bit more as well. Ensure you’re communicating these donations clearly in your store or marketing materials, including what percentage of sales you’re donating.
#13 Release pre-sale notifications
Treating your most loyal customers like royalty with VIP access makes them feel valued for their contributions to your company. Increase this feeling by giving them access to your sales before everyone else with pre-sale notifications.
This rewards the customers who shop and spend the most, ensuring they’re happy with how your company treats them so they’re not tempted to go elsewhere. You can also use pre-sale access as a hook to get customers to sign up for your loyalty program or newsletter, increasing your reach.
#14 Choose a customer of the month
Telling the world how great your customers are and celebrating them makes your customers feel good - and it makes your business look great as well. You can create a monthly customer spotlight that you post in a video, on your website, on Linkedin, or in a newsletter.
This kind of spotlight shows customers that you truly value them, and shows potential customers that you care about the people who buy from you. Plus, it gives you interesting content to share on your platforms that could connect with future buyers.
#15 Offer future-use coupons
When a customer makes a purchase, you can thank them for that and encourage them to return by offering them a discount on their next purchase. You can give out these discounts after a customer makes their first purchase to encourage them to return, or perhaps after they spend a certain dollar amount to reward your biggest spenders.
#16 Run a giveaway or contest for current customers
Businesses tend to run giveaways and contests to bring in new customers - but you can also use them to reward your existing ones. You can send an email to customers in your database or CRM, run an in-store giveaway, or ask customers to show their products or purchases on social media so you can be sure you’re rewarding your current customers.
Giveaways and contests can be a fun way to reward and engage your customers so they keep coming back. They can even encourage repeat business or user-generated social media content you can use for authentic content creation for your platforms.
#17 Surprise and delight customers
Recognizing unique opportunities to surprise and delight a few selected customers can yield big results. You can treat an unsuspecting customer to a free item, upgrade, discount, gift, or a totally unique experience with your company, like Delta giving a frequent flyer a tarmac transfer via Porsche.
The key element here is surprise - and ensuring it’s a surprise that will resonate positively with your customer base. This gesture can win over the customer being delighted, and when you share it on your social channels, it can also create a memorable moment for other customers who see your company going above and beyond for people like them.
Examples of customer appreciation
What does customer appreciation look like in the real world? Here are some examples to inspire you.
Honda: with their #HondaGivesBack campaign, launched when they reached 1 million likes on Facebook, Honda takes pictures of employees doing things for customers that customers have done for the brand. It shows that Honda genuinely appreciates their highly loyal customers
Sephora: beauty retailer Sephora gives customers who are members of its Beauty Insider free loyalty program a choice of two birthday gifts every year to show their appreciation. This gift is available no matter how much the customer spent in the last year, in addition to rewards customers can earn based on their spending
Pinterest: by sending out holiday mailers to their top clients with goodies like sweet snacks and scented candles, Pinterest showed customer appreciation at the right time. The personalized thank you cards included were a genuine touch as well
Zappos: in a company famed for its commitment to customers, Zappos has many ways they show customer appreciation. In fact, if a customer mentions on a call to a customer service agent that they have recently lost a loved one, Zappos will often send them flowers to show their empathy and support
Nordstrom: this customer-focused retailer gives its credit card holders (who are typically the biggest spenders at the company) early access to its yearly sales. This ensures they get the items they want while rewarding their loyalty to the company
Customer appreciation quotes
Looking for motivational customer appreciation quotes to inspire you even further? Here are five quotes of appreciation that can apply to customers.
“If you give appreciation to people, you win their goodwill.” - William James
“There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer.” - Shep Hyken
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” - John F. Kennedy
“People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.” - Dr. Maya Angelou
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo Buscaglia
Showing your customers genuine appreciation and attention makes them feel seen, heard, and valued - and that can win you customers for life. How will you know if your appreciation efforts are resonating with your customers?
The best way to find out is to ask them. Use GetFeedback’s agile customer experience platform to gather, understand, and act on customer feedback.