Many consumers choose small businesses over bigger names simply because they want to support their community. Others appreciate the personalized service small businesses provide.

However, if it seems as if the business is undervaluing them, these customers may not stick around. In fact, 68 percent of customers cite feeling as if the business is indifferent to them as the reason why they switch to another company.

This Thanksgiving, show your appreciation by making sure you thank all of your best customers.

Why You Should Thank Customers

Without loyal customers, it is much harder to run a successful business for a few reasons:

  • It is easier and less costly to retain customers than attract new ones.
  • Developing relationships with customers create brand advocates.
  • Thanking your customers adds a sense of personalization to the service. This puts you ahead of big corporations, which are rarely in the position to show that they care about their customers as individuals.

How to Thank Customers

Just saying “thank you” is insufficient. These words alone are empty — you need to show that you mean it.

Give a gift

When it comes to thanking customers, it really is the thought that counts. There is no need to offer anything lavish. Choose something your customers will benefit from and is customized in some way. Examples include a book that influenced you, homemade treats, or a gift card. Gifts should just be for your top customers — if you offer one to everyone, it loses its meaning.

Send a handwritten note

Even if you have a very limited budget, you can thank your customers. For instance, if you have just a handful of loyal customers, send out handwritten notes to everyone. The effort you put into this will mean much more than an email — and it is less likely to go unnoticed. Make each note personal, even if this means you need to send fewer.

Hold a competition

If you have enough in your budget for just one amazing gift, hold a competition with the chance for just one lucky customer to win. Give the contest a name that ensures participants are aware you are holding it thank them.

It is best if you can make the competition revolve around your brand. For example, you could ask customers to tell stories about how one of your products improved their lives. Use social media to garner more attention for your business.

Post photos

Another way to utilize social media is to post photos of your customers (with their permission) on your pages. As well as allowing you to thank customers, this will show real people interacting with your products and using your services.

Make a charitable donation

Advertise your brand’s values by making charitable donations in the names of your customers. Choose a local organization or a charity that has some link to your industry or business.

Teach them something new

Knowledge is priceless. Consider what problems your customers have and offer solutions. The opportunities for distributing your knowledge are endless. If you want to keep things in the digital sphere, you can send an ebook, webinar, or infographic or even invite customers to an online knowledge center. If you want to interact with your customers in person, hold an event that gives them the chance to learn something new and useful related to your offerings.

Throw a thank-you event

Another way to bring all your top customers together is to hold an event with the sole purpose of thanking everyone. There is no need to invest much — just a few refreshments are fine. You may well end up making a few sales in the process.

If you’re not a local company, this idea can still work for you. Invite everyone to a live webinar or Facebook video where you can thank them.

Sit down and talk

If you’d rather have more personal interactions, schedule one-on-one sessions with a few customers. This is a great opportunity to find out what people like about your company and what you could be doing better. Meet customers over coffee or invite them to lunch.

Begin a loyalty program

Add customers to a new loyalty program after they spend a certain amount or visit your business a certain number of times. Rewards can be special offers, discounts, or freebies.

Reciprocate with support for other local businesses

If some of your customers have their own companies in the area, you can show your appreciation by supporting their businesses. Go beyond simply choosing them over their competitors — you can recommend their products and services in your store, refer your customers to them, mention them on social media, or even reach out about collaborating on a future event.

Offer an upgrade

If you provide a service at different levels of quality, surprise a few of your top customers with an upgrade.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to express your gratitude, but it shouldn’t be the only time you thank customers. Incorporate customer appreciation into your strategy year-round to make sure your customers always know how much they mean to you.