In the first season of Game of Thrones, there’s a scene where the Dothraki chieftain played by Jason Mamoa tells his Queen, Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys, that she’s the “moon of his life”.
It’s pretty good as far as romantic one-liners go. And as you can imagine it works a treat. Not only does it succeed in making her feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it shows that he values her and strengthens their connection.
Showing this kind of appreciation doesn’t just work in fictional relationships—it works in your real-world customer relationships too. Simply by showing you value your customers you can strengthen brand loyalty, boost customer retention and do wonders for customer satisfaction levels.
But how do you do it short of saying “thanks”? In this guide, we’ll look at 13 proven strategies you can use to express customer appreciation without breaking the bank.
Customer appreciation is any gesture your business makes to show customers you value them. It’s about letting them know you’re grateful they chose your business over the hundreds (if not thousands) of others within your niche.
Appreciation looks different for every business. For example, if you own a cafe you might offer a customer a free slice of banana bread, but if you’re a SaaS company... that would be kind of weird. Branded swag will be more in your wheelhouse.
How you choose to manifest your appreciation doesn’t really matter. As long as you make sure customers feel valued—by doing so you give your customer relationships a solid foundation and keep satisfaction levels high.
Appreciation becomes a tool to express customer value and build stronger relationships. In turn, your business will see a whole lot of short and long-term benefits.
Customer appreciation isn’t just a buzzword. It has real implications for the lasting success of your business, whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an enterprise-scale business.
Appreciation generates customer loyalty. And loyal customers are extremely valuable for your business. Studies show that even though “loyal customers” only make up around 20% of most customer bases, they account for around 80% of a business’s profit margin.
So let’s take a look at the benefits showing customer appreciation can have for your business.
Steady income: Customers will keep coming back again and again to a company when they feel valued. Repeat customers bring a more steady income, easier sales, cheaper acquisition costs and more profit for your business.
Differentiate your brand: Unique products or services aren’t the only way to stand out from the pack—providing a special customer experience can be a point of difference for your company. It gives you an advantage over your competitors that isn’t easy to replicate.
Make more sales: Selling to a steady base of existing customers is more easy and cheap than selling to first-time buyers. Existing customers also tend to spend more with each purchase and increase their spending over time.
Improve your reputation: The first thing most people look at when researching new companies is online reviews. When customers are valued (and feel your product/service provides value to them) they’re more likely to leave positive reviews and generate word of mouth referrals.
Cheap marketing: Grand gestures of customer appreciation can be a cheap form of indirect marketing that leads to long-lasting returns. For example, say you send a card to a client on their birthday. This sort of “wow” moment builds brand loyalty and works great for social media engagement.
Have a positive impact: Sometimes things go wrong. It could be a poor customer interaction, a glitch in an internal system… or a global pandemic. When you appreciate your customers you’re able to better support their needs in any situation.
There’s more than one way to show customers you care. From invites to exclusive events to a simple shout out on social media, here are 13 awesome customer appreciation ideas you can use to spread some love.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. What simpler way is there to show you care than to write a handwritten thank-you card?
Handwritten notes have a level of meaning attached to them that no amount of emails or social media interactions can ever quite capture.
Hi Mr Wick,
We wanted to send you a message to say thanks for your business over the past year. We’re so grateful to have you as a user.
We started Paperform to take the hassle out of building beautiful online forms, and we’re so glad to be able to help you achieve exactly that. Great customers like you motivate and inspire us to create the best product we possibly can.
Thanks a bunch!
The Paperform fam
In the world of text messages and Slack and Messenger and Zoom people love receiving notes written with an actual pen by an actual person. Plus it’s a win-win—you won't find a cheaper option to brighten up someone’s day.
Sometimes appreciation is best shown through words. Other times it’s best shown by knocking a few bucks off your products or services for your valued customers.
There are a few ways to approach discounts. You can:
Either way, we all love when a discount code pops up in our email, whether we use them or not. For an extra touch, you can accompany the discount with a brief message of appreciation to drill the message home.
Swag isn’t just something that rappers have. In the business world, the term refers to branded gifts companies send out to customers—usually things like stickers, water bottles, tote bags, t-shirts and pretty much any other item you want to slap your company logo on.
You don’t have to break the bank. It can be as simple as offering free company stickers like Product Hunt:
The key here is to avoid cheap stuff people are just going to throw away. Try to make sure your customer will actually use whatever you send. There are even companies that help build a box of branded swag that you can send out, though this can be costly.
In fact, the whole swag thing can be an expensive enterprise. It’s best kept to a few items that you only send out to your most valued customers on special occasions. Most companies stick with high-quality shirts and hoodies, USB drives, bottles and, for some reason, socks.
Giving your customers a shout out on social media is a super quick way to acknowledge what folks are doing with or saying about your business.
You can do it in a variety of ways. The quickest would be to retweet a post shared by a customer, but you can also whip up a post of your own giving notable customers a shout out, or sharing something they've created.
It can be as simple as a Retweet to promote a customer's work to your own followers:
Customers are stoked for the recognition and promotion. The best part? It only takes you a few minutes, but lasts forever. We try to give shout outs as often as possible when we come across cool things online.
Customers are always excited to be noticed. Plus it often leads to insightful interactions that strengthen your understanding of your customers (we see new use cases all the time) and shares your brand with folks who might not be aware of it.
As a business one of your main goals is always going to be making money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look for ways to help your customers in certain difficult situations.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a great example. Lots of businesses around the globe stepped up to help struggling people adjust to “the new normal”.
At Paperform, for example, we decided to offer financial relief to help small businesses in affected industries. We aren't Superman and we couldn't solve all the worlds problems, but we could contribute in our own unique way.
Consider how your company can give support to people that could use it. It doesn’t need to be a complete freebie—maybe it’s a few bucks off for certain users, say, teachers or students, or an extended free trial in trying times.
(Another example of this would be our "pay what you can system" we offer to Non-profits and charitable organisations.)
Every healthy relationship is a two-way street. Providing your customers with an opportunity to chat—over video, text or even in-person—is a fantastic way to show they’re more than just a number.
These chats are a platform for you to touch base. They offer an opportunity to get feedback and better understand the various ways folks interact with your products and services.
You don’t have to invite customers down to a local cafe either (though that’s not a bad option if you have a local customer base.) Run office hours, connect over social media or invite them to join you for a digital catchup on Zoom.
The days where customers are happy to be kept in the dark about a business's comings and goings are well and truly over. It’s all about transparency, baby.
Customers want to be kept in the loop with a steady stream of:
Say you run a wine subscription service. You could share content on social media giving a peek behind the packaging process or publish guides on how you source wine. Customers will love it (and you’ll draw in a bigger following too!)
Sharing this kind of information keeps customers engaged and strengthens your connection with them. It transforms customers into a community that stays loyal to your brand.
Sometimes businesses can get caught up speaking about their customers and forget that each one is an individual with their own unique beliefs, interests, preferences and favourite pizza toppings. 🍕
Whenever possible, try to personalise your service or customer experience based on what you know about your customers. At Paperform we do this by enquiring about what customers want to use our platform for and offering custom solutions based on that use case.
We can then offer solutions or templates to make their goals easier. Pricing is also a way to give folks personalised options. Our tiered subscriptions make it simple for people or businesses to select the option that best suits them.
Obviously if you own a restaurant rather than an eCommerce business things are different. But if you’re attentive there are plenty of opportunities to create “wow” moments. Say you notice a table celebrating a birthday? Send over a freebie or clear your singing pipes and belt out "happy birthday".
Rules and processes are in place for a reason. Totally. They’re important. Yes. They should be strictly adhered to. Mostly. Just one caveat: you need to be willing to tear down the red tape every so often to do something special for your customers.
This one’s tricky to guide you on because, well, you have to use your instincts. So we’ll use an example. Zappos is an American apparel brand that’s grown a reputation for customer support that goes beyond above and beyond.
On one occasion a customer service rep found out that a loyal customer had forgotten to mail back a pair of shoes she’d planned to return after a death in the family. Not only did they allow her to return the shoes beyond the return window, but they also sent her flowers.
99 times out of a hundred you’ve got to follow internal processes. Stick to the rules. But if you spot an opportunity to do something like this—take it. You’ll earn yourself a customer for life and a lifetime of word-of-mouth marketing.
A lot of your customers will have businesses or side hustles of their own. Why not support their ventures by buying a product, engaging with their service or just sharing a worthy cause across your network?
Our “Conversations with Paperform” YouTube series is a perfect example of this dynamic. We have many incredible NGOs, charities and businesses that use our platform, so we decided to highlight them in our content.
In our video with Pachamama Alliance, we were able to shed light on a cause we feel passionately about (building a more sustainable future), while also showing our customer how much we value their patronage.
This kind of reciprocal relationship is great for building loyalty and forging a deeper connection with the folks who do business with you. It doesn’t have to be a common occurrence, but if you come across something that sticks out, give it a whirl.
Here are just a few ways you can support your customer’s work:
Try to ensure your company values align with those who you broadcast to avoid any trouble. As a rule try to avoid causes (political/social/sexual) that may alienate customers or stir up unnecessary controversy.
This is another win-win. With a loyalty program, you can incentivise repeat patronage by offering rewards for every purchase or engagement, while also giving your customers more value.
Rewards programs are simple: the more people buy, the more value they get. It’s about adding additional benefits, usually, through exclusive deals, extra features, unique products or special events for people who sign up.
Loyalty programs don’t just add value (e.g. freebies or discounts), they make customers feel valued each and every time they earn a reward.
The only people who know your business better than you are your customers. Sometimes they can even know it better, especially when it comes to finding improvements that could be made to your products or services.
Asking for customer feedback is a no brainer. In a broad sense businesses are about:
Why not skip the middle man and ask customers directly? Just ask and listen to whatever it is they have to say. Then you can decide whether it's valid, or if you should take it with a grain of salt.
You’ll be blown away by the things you learn. Plus, as well as receiving ideas and feedback that you can use to improve your business, you show customers you value their insights.
Be ready to make changes based on feedback you receive and let your customers know when you implement them. They'll be stoked to have played a part in the evolution of your product or service.
For a grand display of appreciation, hold an event to show customers how much you value their business.
Some companies even hold a customer appreciation week where they feature notable customer stories, run giveaways and host in-person or virtual events.
Knock around some ideas with your team and think of some fun ways to show your thanks. By making it a structured day you can plan and build excitement in advance—and if the reaction is good, you can turn your appreciation event into a tradition customers can look forward to.
Side note: this is also a sneaky opportunity for a little marketing boost. A customer appreciation day is an ideal time to run referral programs to draw in new customers and a special discount for returning ones.
It doesn’t matter if you’re seventeen or seventy-two, everyone loves getting gifts. Why not send your customers a small gift on their birthday or around the holidays to show you care?
You don’t have to break the bank. It could be a bit of swag or a discount code sent to their email inbox with a message. There's no need for extravagant gift baskets or handing out fancy new products—as with any gift, it's the thought that counts.
As with all entries on this list, it’s not a competition to see which company sends out the most expensive birthday or holiday gifts. It's about going the extra mile to express gratitude. Your customers will love it.
Forget the free gift cards and VIP goodies. None of it means anything unless a culture of client appreciation is baked into your business. Without that, all the fun freebies and “happy birthday” messages are just empty gestures.
Think of it like a personal relationship. If you don’t visit your girlfriend for a month and then turn up with an Amazon gift card and a nice note do you think she’ll smile and say thanks? No way. You’ve got to show appreciation every day, not once in a blue moon.
In the same way, customer appreciation needs to be expressed through your everyday interactions too. In every support chat; sales call; social media message and LinkedIn update.
Make sure everyone within your organisation recognises the importance of customers and is grateful for their business. It might seem like a basic idea, but you’ll be surprised how much of an impact adopting this kind of customer service philosophy can have on your business.
It’s something that even the coolest personalized gifts can’t reproduce.
Valuing your customers isn’t just a nice bonus—it’s an essential part of providing great customer service.
But the benefits flow on to the rest of your business. By putting appreciation at the forefront you’ll boost retention, build a more loyal audience and see a variety of benefits that are great for your bottom line.
Get the ball rolling with Paperform. Create customer feedback surveys, build a landing page for a rewards program, set up your own company swag store, or integrate with all popular CRM apps to better manage clients.
Get started today with our 14-day free trial— no credit card required.
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