The 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S. employ millions of people annually and comprise the 64-percent of new jobs created in the country. Of these million small businesses across the country, more than half have laid off their employees and are in danger of permanently closing.
Small businesses engaged in accommodation and food services are among the sectors vulnerable to permanent closure. Although consumers have not forgotten their favorite restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, and yoga studios, visits to these establishments have dwindled in the light of shelter-in-place orders and social distancing.
Nonetheless, surveys have shown that 68 percent of consumers are willing to support small businesses in their community to keep jobs and the local economy afloat. Customers offer their support and loyalty to their local small businesses by ordering takeout, increasing tip amounts, and even purchasing gift cards.
As a simple token of appreciation, you can reciprocate this kindness and support. Apart from a simple “thank you,” there are other ways of showing gratitude to your customers, such as giving appreciation gifts. Not only will customer appreciation show your gratefulness, but it is also a marketing maneuver to increase customer loyalty and brand awareness.
Bag of Treats
Cookies, popcorn, and dried fruits and nuts are some classic customer appreciation gifts. They are mouth-watering, eye-catching, and delicious. No wonder they are all crowd favorites. Chocolate chip cookies, caramel popcorn, dried berries, almonds, and peanuts are the best bets. There are also plant-based varieties of these treats for your vegan customers.
You can create your treat bags with cellophane, cardboard box, ribbons, and tags. You can even make personalized labels and add your business logo. That way, every time your customers grab a treat, they would think of your company. Moreover, who does not love free food, right?
Nowadays, cool swags are more than just a cheap company pen, and customers are expecting you to step up your game. Freebies do not have to be expensive to be appreciated. Reusable straws, bamboo toothbrushes, mugs, and bottle openers are some items that customers can use daily.
Giving out coupons is another classic way of showing some love to your customers. It is a proven mechanism to drive more customers to your business. Especially with food stores, customers will not only buy those discounted items but even non-discounted ones.
The disadvantage of using coupons is that it will cost your small business money. But with the right strategy, you can show your appreciation to your customers and increase your sales.
Loyalty Programs and Rewards
Another common way to show customer appreciation is loyaltyprograms. Rewarding your customers for repeated buying or your product or service makes excellent customer service, resulting in positive feedback and brand loyalty.
Depending on how much you are willing to spend, loyalty rewards can be reasonably simple or sophisticated. Customers earn points, which they can use to buy several products or services.
Paying It Forward
Over the past years, the pay-it-forward method has become popular. However, instead of one customer paying for the other, why not randomly cover your customer’s purchase on occasion? As Maya Angelou had said, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
Make your customers feel special. It would not hurt your small business’s budget. Who knows, perhaps that customer whom you are treating is in dire need of money, and your kindness will help him save even a bit. With this pandemic likely to stay a bit longer, a little kindness goes a long way.
Say It in a Video
Most customers still prefer getting thanked in person. Unfortunately, in light of the pandemic, this is quite impossible since most establishments are mandated to stay closed until further notice.
Using your small business’s social media account, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Tiktok, or your company’s website, you can get all your staff involved and make a thank-you video ━ but, of course, with social distancing protocol observed.
No matter how you show your appreciation, remember that your company’s goal is to make a lasting and memorable impression on your customers. Making your small business feel more “human” makes your company more relatable and trustworthy.