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38 Customer Appreciation Ideas on a Budget

Posted April 14, 2017 by Kristin Hoppe in Running a Business 101
You want to do customer appreciation right, but how do you do it on a budget? We’ve got some ideas.

Customer appreciation day falls on January of every year, but you don’t need an excuse or national holiday to appreciate customers who have kept your business alive and thriving.

According to a Gallup poll, B2B companies with high customer engagement scores have 34% higher profitability and 50% higher revenue and sales. Translation? Building meaningful relationships and showing your customers you care is positive for your company’s bottom line and for all parties involved.

Read on to learn why delighting the customer is important for business, along with dozens of ideas for how you can appreciate customers (even on a budget)!

Why Customer Delight Matters

At Justworks, Lisa Reynolds is an account manager. She works with administrators on everything from questions about how to pay a bonus to offering resources to set up company policies.

Lisa has helped build out the Justworks customer appreciation program with Mouth, an indie gift-giving service, with packages such as birthday in a bag or chocolate and candy assortments.

However, she knows customer appreciation isn’t just about purchasing business gifts and calling it a day. It starts out with appreciation for the customer and the ability to build a genuine relationship with them.

“Customer appreciation is really special,” said Lisa. “It’s something that our customers don’t necessarily expect when they’re paying for a service. It’s huge, though, in terms of maintaining customers.”

With that in mind, here are dozens of ways to appreciate your customers and create a long and fruitful partnership.

Customer Appreciation on a Budget

Take the Time to Talk

Getting to know your customers is both free and incredibly rewarding. As Lisa put it, “When I talk to my customers about things other than just instructions and connect on a deeper level, it makes a huge difference in the relationship that they have with me. It also establishes more trust and they feel that we have their best interest in mind, which is important.”

Send Handwritten Letters or Notes

Simple, classic, and meaningful. A handwritten note (especially one with a personalized message) shows your customers that you really do care. And with the predominance of email, seeing someone’s handwriting is equally memorable.

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Recognize Special Events

Reaching out to your customers during an exciting time is a great way to connect. Add important dates to a calendar once you hear about them, or otherwise it might be easy to forget. Some noteworthy events might include:

  • A birthday
  • Some type of personal accomplishment
  • A work anniversary or promotion
  • The birth of a child

Of course, which events you decide to recognize will depend on the nature of your relationship with the customer. As an account manager, Lisa has some close relationships with people with whom she has worked for years. For example, when one of her customers had a baby, she sent along a baby onesie with a handwritten note, and the customer loved the thought.

Take a Customer Out

Appreciate a customer in a more personalized way by going out together. It’s a great way to build your business ties and overall relationship. There are plenty of options, including:

  • Lunch or dinner
  • Drinks
  • Coffee or tea
  • A comedy show

Arrange Visits for Valuable Feedback

Are you continually building on and improving your product or services? See if you have customers who would enjoy visiting your office to give feedback. It’s a great opportunity to improve or test a new product launch while giving your customer a voice in the process.

If you do arrange a product testing meeting, provide some kind of food as well — like sandwiches, a catered lunch, or snacks and coffee. Justworks hosts monthly customer visits to get more focused product and service feedback in a one-on-one setting.

We also have a customer board that meets quarterly. Board members voice what they want to see in the company and help inform our product roadmap. It also gives them the chance to network with each other about the successes and difficulties of starting and running a small business.

Send Holiday Cards

Take note to be inclusive. Unless your customer is part of a distinctly religious organization, for example, avoid something like a Christmas card. Find general winter imagery, or include all kinds of holidays in one place.

For example, at Justworks we sent out holiday cards with a fun themed pattern and hand-written notes from account managers. Some companies also got cookies in a tin with the same pattern.

Ship Free Swag

Swag is is something fun your customers can instantly use — and everybody enjoys a free gift every now and then. Additionally, having customers tote your swag around increases brand awareness, a win-win on both sides.

Sending clothing is risky, because you don’t know if those items will fit your customers. However, there is plenty of branded swag that works for anyone. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Mugs
  • Notebooks
  • Baseball caps
  • One-size socks
  • Stickers
  • Portable phone chargers
  • Water bottles
  • Frisbees
  • Sunglasses
  • Candles

Psst...You can also check out this article about how and where to purchase the right company swag.

Offer a Discount or Perk

Does your business partner with any other companies? Consider it the perfect opportunity for everyone to win.

For example, at Justworks, we ran a special promotion for a few of our customers’ companies to receive a year of free CitiBike memberships. It was a great way to appreciate both our customers and our partner company.

If that’s not an option, offer a loyalty discount on one of your services. This could be during a special time — like a one-year anniversary using your product — or just at random. Regardless of the reason, customers always love to save money.

Set Up a Referral Program

This is another win-win: express customer appreciation while also bringing in additional customers. We have a referral program that awards customers $100 for every employee who signs up for our platform. So, if our customer refers someone who has a 34-person company, for example, the customer receives a $3400 check just for making the introduction.

If you can’t part with that volume of cash, consider other types of referral awards, such as:

  • A vacation getaway raffle
  • Complementary product offerings or services from your company
  • A gift card to a popular restaurant
  • Free concert tickets

Promote Customer Accomplishments on Social Media

Do your customers do important work? Give them a public shoutout! Whether on your own Twitter handle or the company’s, people appreciate recognition for their accomplishments.

Customer shoutouts can range from winning an award to being featured in a magazine to raising a new series funding or launching a new product. Regardless of the subject matter, a shoutout coupled with a fun GIF is a fun way to celebrate their success. And don’t forget, tagging that company or individual will help them see how you’re celebrating them.

Share Good News in Your Network

Celebrate customer accomplishments through additional mediums besides social media. For example, on Justworks’ monthly customer newsletter, we’ve created a community section to celebrate customer wins and recognize distinguished accomplishments.

On the newsletter, customers can also submit promotions or discount codes for their services, which opens up their business to more customers as well.

Invite Them to Talk to the Company

Does your company hold a weekly All-Hands Meeting or town hall? Bring customers in front of your company for a fireside chat. Your employees can get to know your customers better, and your customers will feel like their thoughts and insights are a valued part of your business. Once again, a win-win!

Splurge - Throw a Customer Appreciation Event

A customer appreciation event is a real opportunity to delight and connect with people in a fun, face-to-face environment.

Last year, Justworks threw a customer appreciation event at Brooklyn Bowl. We rented out the bowling lanes, and also hired a DJ for the dancefloor. Of course, there was also some catered food and an open bar, too.

                               

But you don’t have to even go that far or spend that much money to have a great customer appreciation event. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Throw a rooftop party at your office
  • Host a picnic or barbecue in the park
  • Take them out to a baseball game
  • Get tickets for a theater performance or musical
  • Rent out some time on a boat

If you’re hosting a customer appreciation event in your own space, take advantage and offer up free swag. Invite your partner companies, and educate customers about existing parts of your product or services by setting up a booth.

Conclusion

There are infinite ways to appreciate customers on a budget. The most important thing? Be genuine and make real connections. Authentic interactions are rewarding on both ends, and it’s also the best way to appreciate customers in a lasting and impactful way.

When you recognize someone as an individual and make a genuine connection, both you and your customers will enjoy interacting with each other that much more.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.