It's that time of year—time to count your blessings. And after the last few years of the recession, I'm sure you have a lot to be thankful for. Your customers and your employees probably top the list.
But how to show your gratitude in this post-recession economy? Here are some no– or low-cost ways to say thanks.
Your customers want to be valued as individuals, not just as people who sign purchase orders. So make your thank you's personal.
- Send cards. Send a personal, handwritten note letting customers know how much you appreciate your relationship with them. Handwritten is the key! This is not the time for e-.mail.
- Pick up the telephone. Make a special phone call just to touch base and thank customers for their business. No strings attached, no selling, no special offers. Just a warm, heartfelt thanks.
- Write a letter of recommendation to your contact's manager highlighting how much you enjoy working with your contact. Be sure to mention your contact's strengths and what, specifically, you enjoy about your interactions.
- Create something personal like a custom label for a bottle of wine, a piece of pottery designed by you at the do-it-yourself pottery shop, a screen saver you created from photos of your locale, or a big bottle of root beer you made and bottled at the local brewery (private-labeled, of course!).
- Send a video. Create a video thank you from all the employees who work on each customer's account. Have some fun but keep it professional.
Good customer service stems from happy employees who want to do their best for customers. Your front-line employees make you and your company successful, so don't forget to recognize them, too.
- Send personal, handwritten letters to your employees pointing out each employee's strengths and telling them how much you enjoy working with them. Send it to their home for a nice surprise.
- Make something. What's your specialty? Cooking? Serve them lunch. Photography? Snap some candid photos and provide prints. Singing? Create a song of thanks and belt it out during break.
- Donate money or time to their favorite charity in their name. Let them know this is to thank them for the top-notch service they provide your customers.
- Give a few unexpected hours off to go holiday shopping.
- Just say thanks. Call employees into your office one at a time, ask them to sit, close the door, then tell them how wonderful they are. Period. No suggestions on how to improve. Just let them bask in the glow of your praise.
The big holiday budgets and bonuses of the past are mostly gone. Taking their place are thoughtful, creative ways to express your appreciation. It doesn't matter how much you spend. What matters is that you let your customers and employees know how much you appreciate them.