Take stock of your customer relationships when choosing how to say "Thanks."
If you have customers, you have people to thank. But how? What's the protocol? Who do you thank? What if you don't know your customers well? What if you have too many to buy gifts for?
Take a deep breath, don't stress.
Where to Start
The big Google, of course! No, really. Just search the topic and you'll get a ton of articles and lists that will help you get the creative juices flowing. Heartwarming ideas such as giving a hardback book (yes, they still make those) on a customer's favorite topic or author with a hand-written note on the title page. Or, sending a far-away customer a gift card to a local coffee shop with a note that says, "I wish I could have coffee with you and chat about life, as you've made me feel like a very close friend. Thanks."
What you do is up to you, and the gift is really in the giving, not the receiving. Just keep a few things in mind when considering your choices for sending out some customer love:
Cater to Your Business
The way you acknowledge your customers should mirror two things: your brand and your personality. Make your gift giving from the heart, with real sentiment.
Some businesses will use gift giving as an opportunity to promote their agenda and market their brand. Let's hope that's not you. Marketing is marketing. Genuine giving is an expression of appreciation, period.
Be wary of customers whose companies have policies that prevent vendors from giving gifts, as they could be interpreted as incentives or kick-backs. This is typically to discourage vendor bias and keep contract negotiations democratic. Honor your customer's company policies, and there's nothing wrong with asking first if you're unsure.
Share the Impact
My customers have had a big impact on my business, mainly because they have remained loyal to me year after year. When I think of what my business would look like had they jumped ship, I realize on a whole new level how special they are. I always let them know. How have your customers changed your business?
It's easy to slip into business mode 24/7 with your customers since you are there to serve them. But don't devalue the importance of a gesture such as a personal phone call, caring conversation or offer of kindness. It goes a long way in creating a deeper bond that will promote a lasting relationship. Plus, you have the added benefit of making someone feel very special.
Only you know the best way to thank your customers, because you know your customers. And if you don't know them well enough, maybe you could take a few minutes out of your day to ask them, "Hey, how are you really doing?" and patiently get to know them better.
Your time and interest in your customer is a true gift, both to you and them.