How critical is customer appreciation? A study by Eloqua found that merely putting the words “Thank You” into email subject lines increased open rates and their click-through rates.
And that’s not all. According to another study, 68 percent of customers leave because they feel the business doesn’t care about them.
When it comes to good business, “Thank You” is a truly magical phrase.
In this Blue Paper we’ll discuss the who, what, when and why of thank-you gifts for customers. We’ll also offer a few tips on what kind of gifts to give, when to give them (spoiler alert—make it a surprise), and why the power of gratitude brings customers back again and again.
Why: Reaping ROI of the warm fuzzy
In a world of email, text messages and instant messengers, the idea of a handwritten thank-you note might seem archaic. And yet, multiple studies have shown handwritten thank-you notes have an impressive return on investment.
For example, the staff of Donors Choose opted to send handwritten thank-you notes to half of their recent first-time donors. The results? Thirty-eight percent of people who received a note were more likely to donate again. Not only that, they donated an average $41 more per year. All told, those handwritten notes raised an additional $3 million.
On the for-profit side, Wufoo® sent 800 thank-you cards to customers, which resulted in 50 percent fewer customers leaving the company, compared to those who did not receive cards.
Now that you’ve seen the power of the simple thank-you note, let’s talk about whom you should be thanking—and when.
Who: Choosing which customers to thank
While finding ways to thank all your customers might not be practical, it’s always worthwhile to show gratitude toward customers, even with a small token of appreciation.
For companies that work primarily in the B2B sector, it’s considered good business to send corporate thank-you gifts to every one of your clients at least once per year. It’s a best practice that Evansville Auto Repair in Evansville, Ind., does regularly. The shop offers a Hot Rod Vent Stick Air Freshener to customers after every service and finds that offering thank-you gifts for customers helps them build and maintain connections.
“We wanted something to offer the customer we did a service with to remind them that if they need to come back, this is where they went,” said Office Manager Lindsay Roberts. “You need return customers to stay in business. And if they trust you for the little stuff like oil changes, they come to you for the big (stuff).”
Ensuring you stay top of mind is critical when it comes to turning a one-time customer into a repeat customer. After all, 60 to 80 percent of satisfied clients don’t go back to the company they worked with—often because they can’t recall the name of the business.
However, for companies with a limited budget, it may not be practical to send gifts, or even notes, to every customer. Should you need to select a smaller segment of your customers to thank with a gift, consider thanking:
- Repeat customers
- High-value customers
- A randomized selection of customers who recently used your services—making the thank-you gift a complete surprise
Once you’ve selected the customers you wish to thank, you’re ready to determine when to thank them.
When: Picking the best time to thank your customers
One of the most common times to thank your customers is the holiday season. While that’s traditional, it can also mean that your gift might get lost in the shuffle of incoming thanks and well-wishes. Instead (or maybe in addition to), Forbes® suggests sending a gift when it’s least expected.
Here are a few corporate thank-you gifts that might make your gratitude more memorable:
Recognize holidays celebrated by your customers
If you’re aware of your customers’ background and beliefs, there may be a more appropriate time to send them a gift than at Christmas, for example. Bonus: knowing your customers’ preferences and beliefs shows them that you genuinely care.
Celebrate an unexpected holiday
Pairing your thanks with an offbeat holiday not only helps reinforce your brand, it can also help get you more attention on social media. So take a look at a list of unusual holidays (June 8 is Best Friends Day, for example) and send a gift that will get your customers talking.
Remember personal anniversaries
Do you know what day your client’s company was founded? Or the date of your first sale to them? Much like acknowledging holidays that are special to your customers, remembering them on special days is sure to help them remember you.
Thank them for almost any reason at all
An unexpected discount, gift or note is sure to surprise your customer when you send it simply out of pure gratitude. Did the client give you a referral? Did you gain a new customer from that referral? Has it been a long time since you spoke to your customer? These are all excellent reasons to send a corporate thank-you gift.
Regardless of the time frame, connecting at least once a year helps ensure your customers remember you the next time they need your services.
Evansville Auto Repair frequently repairs local fleets, keeping heating and air conditioning and plumbing vans in tip-top shape for several local businesses.
“We use the air fresheners and a few other gifts to make gift bags for our larger fleet accounts,” Roberts said. “They are perfect for a simple thank you as well as getting our name out there. We always make sure to include a business card.”
The gift bags and business cards are especially helpful to remind fleet customers of the company’s night services. “They know that they have someone they can call if they want to get their service van fixed and have it ready for work the next morning,” Roberts said.
What: Gifts that offer a personal touch
The best thank you has some degree of personalization. Whether you write a note, give a gift or both, sending them something that considers their business needs or personal likes and dislikes is going to have a much stronger impact.
A few ways to personalize the thank-you gifts for customers might include:
Be specific in your notes
Rather than just sending a card that says, “Thank you for being our customer,” take a moment to pick out a detail that’s specialized to the work you do together. Thank them for an exceptionally large order. Send them a note thanking them for being a customer for one, five or 10 years.
Or reference something more personal, such as a recent life event, like a vacation or birth in their family.
Inscribe every book you send
If you send a book like the Good To Great Book, inscribe a note about why you thought the book was valuable, or how it influenced your business. Or, write a personal note on the inside cover of a journal.
Send them referrals
If you’re working with a great company, why would you want to keep it to yourself? There may be no better way to show how much you value another company’s products or services than by recommending them to others.
Get to know them
In a long-term business relationship, you’ll eventually come to learn about the lives of your clients. Taking the time to select a personal gift will not only demonstrate that you value the business relationship, it will also show your clients that you care about them on a personal level. Offer them a Terry Knit Baby Bib for their new baby or a Woven Cat Leash for your cat-loving client.
Attorney Mary J Gaziano of Rockford, Ill., found a way to make a pen highly personal. She gives a Gala Stylus Pen to her clients when they come into the office to sign documents. She then leaves the pen with them as a thank-you for their business and as an easy way to locate her contact information if they require further information or assistance.
“I decided to get [promotional] pens at the request of one my clients,” Gaziano said. “He said he enjoyed collecting them. So, when mine arrived, I wrapped some up in a bow and presented them to him personally. He asked me if he could have a few more because he didn’t want to undo the bow!”
Gaziano spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect pen. “I really made an effort to choose a pen style that my clients would use because I wanted them to know that I wasn’t giving them ‘just a pen,'” she said. “This one was sleek, the color set off my imprint so that it looked great and was easy to read, and clients love that it has a stylus tip. I’ve had multiple clients say, ‘Do you have some of those pens? I want to give them to some people.'”
Gratitude makes great businesses
Showing your customers gratitude by sending them thank-you gifts for customers will help your customers know how much you value them. And a valued customer is much more likely to be a return customer.