12 Ways to Tell Your Customers “Thank You for Your Business”
No matter the industry, there’s one thing all small businesses have in common—their customers want to feel appreciated. Roughly 84 percent of customers prefer an in-person thank you, according to a 2016 TD Bank survey. If that’s not possible, over half say that any individualized form of gratitude will do.
The trick is finding creative ways to express that appreciation (and cultivate organic brand loyalty while you’re at it). Here are 12 simple ways to tell your customers “thank you for your business.”
1. Send a handwritten thank-you note
This old-school form of communication goes a long way in today’s digital world. The average number of emails sent and received per day is expected to exceed 246 billion by the end of next year, according to a study put out by technology market research firm The Radicati Group. Finding a personalized letter written by hand in your mailbox is more likely to catch your attention.
“A small touch, often overlooked, is a handwritten note,” Penny Sansevieri, a San Diego-based book marketing expert, told LendingTree. “If someone works with us once, we’ll always send them a handwritten thank you.”
Why? She said it clearly sends the message that “I took the time to do this.”
2. Start a loyalty rewards program
Gratitude and customer retention are two sides of the same coin. In addition to making customers feel appreciated, loyalty programs play a key role in keeping their business moving. A whopping 81 percent of customers in a 2016 Bond Brand Loyalty survey said they’re more likely to continue doing business with brands that offer loyalty programs. What’s more, 70 percent reported modifying their shopping habits to maximize reward points.
There are multiple ways to structure loyalty programs, so don’t be afraid to look beyond exclusive promos and insider coupons. The driving force is making customers feel special.
“Giving them a membership on Amazon Prime or Zappos Rewards are two ways, for example, to show your appreciation,” Nancy Friedman, a St. Louis-based customer service expert, told LendingTree. “Your rewards program doesn’t have to be complex; it can be as simple as offering customers an annual discount on their anniversary.”
3. Give them a social media shout-out
Social media is a bona fide customer service channel. It’s becoming the go-to line of communication for voicing compliments and complaints—and customers who have positive social media interactions are almost three times more likely to recommend that brand, according to a 2017 report from web solutions company GO-Globe. This in itself makes it an ideal platform for thanking your clients.
“Use your business social media accounts to give your customers a ‘shout out,’ letting others know how much they are valued,” Justin Lavelle, a Virginia-based communications executive, told LendingTree. “This is a great method, as potential customers or clients may see the social media mentions, as well.”
Your company’s newsletter is another high-traffic venue to express your gratitude.
4. Send them a knockout book
The act of reading may be a solitary one, but a 2011 University at Buffalo study found that getting lost in a good story actually satisfies a deeply felt need for human connection. This is precisely what makes books such uniquely meaningful gifts.
“The best way I’ve found to say ‘thank you’ to customers is to send them a book,” James Pollard, a Philadelphia-based marketing consultant, told LendingTree. “If you have a book that has changed your life for the better, that’s the one you want to give.”
Pollard goes the extra mile, including a personal note of appreciation to customers. If you’re running short on titles to choose from, you can also opt for something that’s relevant to your business. Own a yoga studio? A paperback about the history of yoga is an appropriate choice that won’t break the bank.
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5. Throw a freebie their way
Everybody loves free stuff, but the key to customer appreciation is doling out items or promos that hold real value.
“I could send them a gift basket, and that’s nice too, but clients really appreciate a freebie of something they’re already interested in: your product or service,” Sansevieri said. “We have a few things we offer that don’t cost us a lot of staff time, but are still effective.”
The bonus add-ons you dish out will vary depending on your business. Instead of gifting, say, a branded mug, look back at the customer’s purchase history to select a more customized gift. If you’re not a product-based company, think of ways to thank your client base with more personalized services.
6. Make a charitable donation in their name
Giving makes us happier than receiving, and the science backs it up. Spending money to help others is said to improve our well-being, according to researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia.
Liz Crystal, a New Jersey-based money manager and bookkeeper, makes an annual Thanksgiving donation to a local food bank in honor of her clients. She also sends each of them a personalized note to let them know how much they’re appreciated.
“As a small business owner, I feel that the people you work with want to feel connected to you,” she told LendingTree. “When you make a genuine connection, clients stop thinking of you as being the person they pay for a service, and more of a trusted advisor who is of service to them.”
7. Offer referral discounts
A referred customer is 18 percent more likely to stick with a company over the long haul, according to one University of Pennsylvania study. Researchers say it has to do with trust. If a friend or acquaintance is bonded with a brand, we’re more likely to have a stronger attachment to that company as well. Referral programs that reward customers for spreading the word are a win-win for both parties.
Hall Brannock is a marketing manager at an Idaho-based company that provides account credits to clients if they make a referral that leads to new business.
“Referral partners have provided a wealth of value to our company, as they allow us to tap into existing networks or pipelines for sales, and they also help us to expand our brand awareness,” he told LendingTree.
8. Outsource the task
If your budget allows, hiring a marketing firm or freelancer to manage your customer service and communication tasks can have tremendous ROI. This is especially true for overwhelmed business owners.
“A small business owner’s expertise is very likely not to be handling social media or communications with their customers, but it’s such a vital part of staying alive and competing that it’s worth spending a few dollars every month to hire someone to do that,” Donna Little, center director at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at McNeese State University, told LendingTree.
“Trying to do it all themselves often means that not everything gets done—or not everything gets done well.”
9. Host a gratitude event
Customers like to feel special. A VIP gratitude event is a fantastic way to roll out the red carpet, so to speak. Drinks and appetizers are a nice touch, too. And don’t forget to snap some photos to circulate on your social media accounts.
Lavelle suggests keeping all the focus on your customers.
“At the beginning of the event, thank everyone for attending and for their continued support of your business,” he said. “During the event, circulate the room and make sure to personally stop and speak to each customer.”
10. Actively communicate
Discounts and special offers are tried-and-true ways to thank your customers, but you can take it a step further. Instead of waiting for them to make their next purchase, extend these offers semi-regularly to help nurture the relationship. Little suggests keeping in touch using the customer’s preferred communication method: text message, email or postcard.
“The more often you touch a customer, the more likely they are to stay your customer,” she said. “When you see them in real life, make a habit of saying hello and using the customer’s name. It makes them feel like a human, which is one of the reasons why people shop at a locally owned small business.”
11. Remember their birthday
Who doesn’t like to treat themselves on their birthday? Compiling a database of subscriber birthdays is a simple way to build brand recognition and make clients feel appreciated.
When compared to regular promotional emails, personalized birthday emails have significantly higher open and click rates, according to Experian data. The kicker? They also generate 342 percent higher revenue per email.
Revenue aside, dishing out birthday rewards is also just a great way to thank your customers. If possible, look back at their individual purchase history to personalize the experience.
12. Up your visibility in the community
Small businesses have a leg up over big corporate retailers when it comes to community engagement. Little suggests sponsoring a little league team or buying ads in local school programs to get your name out around town.
“Think about where your customers are and invest in that connection because it does make your customers feel appreciated,” she said. “A personal touch sets small businesses apart from the big guys and makes people willing to spend a few extra dollars for the locally sourced product.”