Customer gratitude all year long

Last updated
Apr 26, 2024
10 ways to show your customers you care all year long, not just during the holidays.

Showing appreciation for your customers should be a year-round priority, not just a holiday tradition. Gratitude opens up the opportunity for emotional connection with your customers – and an emotionally connected customer is worth 306% more in lifetime value.

What does it mean to show gratitude to customers?

Customer appreciation or gratitude simply means acknowledging and thanking customers for their business and support. It’s more than just sending a "thanks for your order" email – it's an intentional mindset backed by tangible actions that convey your gratitude. It comes down to actively showing customers you care about them and their wellbeing, because that's why you're in business – to help people.

The risk of not deliberately showing customers you care, is that they may perceive your company as not caring about them. Make it obvious to show that you care and you'll see immediate and long-term changes in your customer retention rate.

Why is perceived indifference so risky?

An often-cited stat comes from Dr. John Gattorna, an expert in supply chain strategy and logistics. He performed a study in 2008 while teaching at Macquarie Graduate School of Management that showed an alarming statistic: 

68% of customers will leave a business due to perceived indifference. -Dr John Gattorna

This stat has done a lot of heavy lifting over the years. It's often cited but the original publication is not findable online. I reached out to Dr. Gattorna for comment on 12/21/23.

The 68% figure is so staggering in part because price and product don't even hold a candle to perceived indifference. We want to be cared about by brands after all?? What's more, brands don't often know when and where they are ignoring the customer, and instead of this having a neutral effect, it comes across as neglect.

Reasons for customers leaving

  • 4% Natural attrition (ie. died or moved)
  • 5% Went to a competitor
  • 9% Switched for price
  • 14% Not satisfied with the product
  • 68% Perceived indifference

There is no neutral here. If you aren't showing your customers gratitude throughout key moments in the customer experience, they may start to think you just don't care or value their business.

Loyalty is a fragile thing. When customers perceive that your brand is indifferent toward them, you erode that trust they have in your products and services, and will look elsewhere.

Similarly, gratitude helps negate the effects of slip ups

No customer service team is perfect. You can't make every single customer happy. Yet an even stronger warning comes from customer experience expert Shep Hyken: "96% of customers after willing to leave after one bad customer service experience." Wow.

So if your customer service is not on point and you're not showing gratitude, you're going to have a pretty big hole in your bucket.

Why gratitude matters all year long

Customers have more choices than ever when deciding where to spend their money. Showing appreciation year-round differentiates you from transactional competitors. Nurture meaningful relationships that inspire customers to stick with your brand beyond the holidays.

The holidays are already saturated with messaging, offers, and a total mind-barrage of advertisements. People are also trying to carve out time and money to support nonprofits on Giving Tuesday.

Delighting customers is more cost efficient than acquiring new ones. And loyal customers tend to convert more often because they already know, like and trust you. Appreciating both new and repeat supporters all year long is a proven growth strategy.

Example: TD Bank gets it

This example is delightful: TD Bank started "TD thanks you" in Canada in 2014, and it has since evolved into almost a decade of showing appreciation. One year, they turned the ATM into an "Automatic Thanking Machine" and presented ATM users with treats like $20 bills and flowers: 

A woman stands in front of a TD Bank ATM, where she is presented with a vase of roses to show customer appreciation and gratitude to her.
Source: TD Bank

12+ year-round ways to show customers you care and appreciate them

Small gestures go a long way when executed consistently. Here are 10 ideas to delight your customers anytime:

  1. Responsive and empowered customer service. Customers value their time and want issues resolved quickly. Empower service staff to immediately assist rather than putting people on hold or transferring calls. Respond to inquiries promptly, resolve complaints efficiently, and surprise customers by exceeding expectations.
  2. Handwritten notes. Mail thank you cards or postcards when customers make a big purchase, refer others or mark an anniversary.
  3. Loyalty perks. Offer perks for taking action, like deals, discounts and freebies, or VIP events based on purchase activity tiers. Surprise repeat or big spenders with random perks. Make high-value customers feel special through VIP services.
  4. Spotlight social shares. Reshare or feature testimonials, product photos or reviews from happy customers on your website, social pages, and other marketing materials. Ask satisfied customers to leave reviews. With permission, detail how you solved issues.
  5. Appreciation gifts. Gift customers something special like discounts, gift cards, holiday customer notes. Or surprise loyal customers with small presents year-round. Gestures demonstrating you value the relationship make impressions.
  6. Personalized promos. Gift customers special discounts on upcoming purchases or repeat purchases.
  7. Customer surveys. Solicit feedback via email surveys or phone calls to uncover pain points and improve experiences. Follow through and let them know when you have closed the loop and made improvements.
  8. Co-created content. Invite customers to submit ideas for new offerings or collaborate on content themes.
  9. Milestone tracking. Acknowledge meaningful thresholds like anniversaries, customer birthdays, 10th purchase, 5-year anniversary, or company birthdays.
  10. Loyalty rewards. Offer redeemable points that convert to discounts or free products over time.
  11. Values-aligned partners. Spotlight the brands customers would appreciate at that point in the journey.
  12. Thank supporters. Just like customers, donors want to be authentically appreciated. Give them a gift when they donate to any cause you're providing matching funds for.
  13. Community engagement. Support charitable causes your customers care about. Sponsor community events. Encourage employees to volunteer. Customers take pride associating with socially conscious companies.

While not every tactic will be right for your brand, incorporating a few year-round customer appreciation practices deepens connections in a distinct and memorable way. Even small businesses can bake simple gestures into regular interactions (more emojis for everyone! 🤗).

The more value you provide, the more loyalty you inspire. When customers feel genuinely appreciated, they pay that feeling forward with referrals, repeat sales and glowing word-of-mouth. Gratitude is truly a gift that gives back.

About the author
Adrienne Kmetz
Adrienne is a marketing expert with a career history of working in startups of all sizes, from early stage to series A. She has 17+ years of experience writing about business, finance, and entrepreneurship. She went to Colorado College where she majored in skiing.
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