A group of women in aprons stand around a table in a large white room. Each woman has a circle of gray clay sitting on a placemat in front of her on the table; the table also holds several white ceramic bowls, a few carving tools, and enough glasses of red wine for everyone. The woman closest to the camera, standing in the foreground and facing away from the viewer, is taking a sip of wine. Most of the women are wearing black aprons, but the woman in the center of the image is wearing a white one. The other women are turned to face the woman in the white apron, who is smiling at the group.
An exclusive event, such as a product launch or a private demonstration, is a good way to show your best customers that you appreciate them. — Getty Images/vgajic

The value of loyal customers cannot be overstated. Businesses that can increase customer retention rates by 5% also increase profits by 25% to 95%. Loyal customers can become brand evangelists, provide feedback on new products and pricing and even help with hiring.

The simple act of thanking your customers can go a long way toward building that kind of loyalty. Research from Zendesk found that two-thirds of consumers who believe a business cares about their emotional state will likely become repeat customers. Start showing gratitude toward your customers with these easy ideas.

Write handwritten notes

Handwritten notes are a simple and effective way to impress customers and show that you care. For instance, a thank-you card for those who placed an order online personifies your brand and lets the customer know there’s a human side to your brand.

“Taking the time to handwrite letters lets customers know you’re willing to invest more than money to keep them around. Plus, handwritten, tactile mail automatically stands out in the digital age,” wrote Shopify.

Service providers, too, can send thank-you notes to repeat customers and long-tenured clients. This outreach can encourage people to speak positively about your business to others.

[Read more: Customer Loyalty: What’s Love Got to Do With It? A Lot]

Offer free gifts

People love free stuff. And giving gifts doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, giving away unsold products is a great way to upsell.

“Move excess inventory and delight customers by repurposing unsold items as free gifts,” wrote Lightspeed. “You know that purple puppy shampoo that never sold in your pet shop? Include those bottles of shampoo in the shopping bag of customers who spend over a certain amount.”

Gifts can also take the form of free services, like gift wrapping or upgrading a subscription. Or offer free shipping to those who have spent over a certain amount. Look for opportunities to offer freebies to those who seem like they could use a little extra help—not only those who spend a lot at your business.

Many businesses celebrate their thousandth sale, their tenth anniversary, or their one-hundredth employee. Flip this model to recognize customer-centric milestones.

Upgrade the customer experience when you can

Give your customers the VIP experience as often as possible to say thank you for their patronage. “Be generous about giving upgrades, no matter what business you’re in,” wrote HelpScout. “Offer the nicest table in a restaurant to one of your regulars or give a software upgrade to a long-time customer.”

It’s not every day that most people get to experience premium service. An unexpected upgrade builds a ton of goodwill and makes your brand stand out the next time your client or customer is asked for a business recommendation.

Celebrate customer-specific milestones

Many businesses celebrate their thousandth sale, their tenth anniversary, or their one-hundredth employee. Flip this model to recognize customer-centric milestones. Show your appreciation when a customer reaches their one-hundredth purchase, celebrate five years of customer loyalty, or provide a thank-you gift for referring more than 10 customers. You can easily track these kinds of metrics using a loyalty program integrated into your POS. Or keep it really simple and just celebrate birthdays.

Host an exclusive event

Consider inviting your best customers to an exclusive event to show your appreciation. This even could take the form of early access to a new product launch, an anniversary happy hour, or simply an end-of-year party where they can shop and enjoy food and drinks. “Your event also can be unrelated to your actual sales, simply engaging customers based on their interests and hobbies,” wrote Shopify.

For instance, you could host a cooking class, a pop-up shop with products from other local businesses, or a themed event around the holidays. Just make sure to keep the focus on showing your appreciation for your customers, rather than closing a sale.

[Read more: 6 Inexpensive Ways to Thank Your Customers This Holiday Season]

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