How to Hold a Customer Appreciation Day that Pays Off

Show your gratitude to the people who keep you in business — your customers — on a day devoted just to them.
Show some love to the people who make what you do possible — your customers. (Photo: Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock)

Your customers have plenty of other places they could shop, but they chose your business. Why not return the love with a customer appreciation event?

“A lot of businesses don’t even think about showing customer appreciation in some formal way. They’re so busy internally, just doing what has to be done day to day, that they don’t stop to consider the idea,” said Chuck Gumbert, founder and CEO of the Tomcat Group in Wichita, Kansas, which coaches and mentors owners of small- and medium-sized companies. “But that’s a mistake. The people who do business with you want to feel special.”

Hosting a customer appreciation day may be just the ticket. Gumbert offered these tips.

Choose a quiet time of year. The holidays might seem like a prime time to show gratitude, but save the event for a slower time when people are more available. If space is tight, have several smaller events throughout the year.

Issue invitations. “An email or a phone call letting your customers know the date of the event is great,” Gumbert says, “but if you want to make it extra-special, send paper invitations, preferably handwritten ones.” You’d probably get writer’s cramp if you did this for your entire customer base, but make the effort for your best customers.

Make it a party. Clean, organize, and hang some decorations. “Act as though your mother-in-law were coming over,” Gumbert advised. You want your clients to feel you’ve rolled out the red carpet for them — not that they’re intruding on your space.

Don’t forget the party gifts. Whether you offer special discounts or promotions or physical gifts (pens, note pads, refrigerator magnets, bottle openers or other useful items, with your company’s logo of course), customers should feel rewarded for showing up.

Consider providing food and drinks, especially if the guest list is small and exclusive.

Provide a look behind the scenes. “Give a tour,” suggested Gumbert. Or simply let customers meet some of the people who make your product or provide services. “Especially if your customers have mainly dealt with your staffers over the phone, it’s nice to put a face with a name,” Gumbert said. The goal: Give customers a good feel for your business.

Share some knowledge. Have knowledgeable and enthusiastic staffers share interesting facts about the steps that go into providing your product or service. Or give an overview of interesting trends you’ve seen. Anything that gives people more insight into your business — or helps them with their own lives — can be entertaining and enlightening.

Steer clear of salesmanship. The event isn’t a time to make a pitch; it’s about giving back to the people who have given you their patronage. That doesn’t mean you won’t get extra business as a result of the event, of course.

Speak up. Share some words of gratitude for your customers’ patronage, and perhaps include some thoughts about how you differ from your competitors. Giving a brief history of the company, as well as your hopes for its future, can make your customers more inclined than ever to keep supporting your business.

Reach out to remote customers. Got a few special customers who live too far away to make it to an on-site event? Send them a handwritten note along with the party gift, saying you were sorry to have missed them but wanted them to have a token of your appreciation.

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