It’s almost Thanksgiving, but gestures of gratitude — especially those you extend to your customers and employees — should not be reserved for the month of November.
Here are 24 ways to make people feel appreciated any time of the year.
1. Send a thank-you note. Emphasis here is on the word “note.” It’s easy to send an email, and that is why you should not do it. Put time and effort into your expressions of gratitude: Hand-write a personal thank-you note and send it in the mail.
2. Give a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It does need to be thoughtful, appropriate, and personal (something that shows you know them and the things they like).
3. Provide free shipping. People hate paying for shipping. It’s an added expense for them, but it can be a relatively inexpensive way for you to add value to your customers’ experience and demonstrate your appreciation for their business.
4. Offer a cash rebate. Who doesn’t like to get money back? According to Jimmy Fallon (and Capital One), only babies. Send a rebate coupon to customers ahead of time as both advertising and a way to encourage business.
5. Donate to a charity of their choice. Most people like to help others but sometimes lack the resources or the time to do as much as they would like. Donate to your employees’ favorite charities — in their names.
6. Throw a customer-appreciation party. Designate a day to celebrate. Offer food, contests, and, of course, special “customer appreciation” prices.
7. Promote people in your newsletter. Devote a section in your company newsletter (or periodic emails) to featuring your top customers and/or employees. Provide contact information for businesses.
8. Acknowledge people in social media. People love public praise. Give shout-outs to your employees and special customers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
9. Make a referral. Send someone new business and you will likely gain a customer for life.
10. Take people out to dinner. Treat your top employees or customers (and their significant others) out for a special meal.
11. Bring in an expert. Outside experts can appeal to customers and employees alike. For example, if you run a coffeehouse, bring in a java expert for an educational event and tasting.
12. Spoil somebody. Go over the top. Pick your best (or most vocal and connected) customer and spoil them with a gift sent to their home, a vacation, or something equally nice. Make it impressive enough that they will talk about it with everybody.
13. Send a treat. A box of cookies or a bouquet of flowers sent to an employee’s home can put even the most difficult person back in your corner.
14. Plant a tree. Organizations such as the Arbor Day Foundation allow you to have a tree planted in someone’s name. They’ll even send a card to the honoree.
15. Give a half-birthday gift. If a customer’s birthday is in January, send a half-off coupon in July.
16. Discount a purchase. You can’t do this for everyone, of course. Tie the discount to special populations on special days, such as birthdays, Veterans Day (veterans), Valentine’s Day (newlyweds), and important game days (sports fans wearing sports apparel).
17. Take an interest in people’s lives. Learn the names of your employees’ family members. Go the extra mile and attend one of their sports games or concerts.
18. Attend church. If you know people are passionate about their church, and you’re comfortable with religious activities, support an activity such as a bake sale, rummage sale, or even bingo night. Attending a special church service or event is also a great way to get to know employees outside of work and customers outside of a business transaction.
19. Be a not-so-undercover boss. Work right alongside your team members as an employee not a boss. Show them you value their work by doing their job(s) for a day.
20. Grant a few hours off. Perhaps the holidays are coming up and your employees could use a little time to shop. Amid a particularly busy time of year, reward everyone with a paid day off.
21. Provide personal praise. Nothing goes further than sincere, face-to-face praise for a job well done. It costs nothing and means a lot.
22. Ask for an opinion. Show employees and customers that you care what they think — especially as it pertains to your business. If you have a new idea, conduct an informal watercooler focus group with people who can help you troubleshoot the idea before you announce it publicly.
23. Listen. Everybody goes through rough patches in life. Pay attention and be there when an employee or customer needs a shoulder.
24. Be consistently thankful. Don’t make saying “thank you” a special occasion. Make your customers and employees feel valuable every day. Remember: Kind words and other expressions of gratitude generate positive results.