This morning I had to get a haircut. Nothing overly exciting about that for anyone, but as I was leaving the salon my hairdresser did something very special. I purchased a pile of shampoo and other weird and whacky potions and as she told me how much it all came to, she stopped and told me that she was not going to charge me for the most expensive product. In her words "this is just to say thank you for being such a wonderful client of mine for so long."
I was very touched by this offer. I didn't expect it, but I most certainly appreciated it. It made me recall the number of times people have done nice gestures like this in recent times and how much closer I feel to the business and to the business owner. Not so much because they gave me something for free, but because they told me how much they appreciated my business.
This gift giving is very different to things like a coffee loyalty card. As a customer, when we've reached our bonus, we feel like we've earned it and we deserve it. Do we really feel a sense of loyalty and connection? I'm not so sure. I think we feel entitled to our reward because loyalty has been "gamified".
I think we need to be doing far more "random acts of thank you". We need to say thank you to our customers and clients when they least expect it. We can do something, or give them something to say how much we appreciate them and most importantly of all, when we actually say the words - "I really appreciate you and value your business."
I also believe that "random acts of thank you" can be applied to any business. Give your loyal customers a free product or service, when they pull out their credit card, tell them to put it away. At the end of a meeting, to avoid any awkwardness, give them something to show your appreciation. There are many situations where the opportunity will arise.
If you are doing your monthly billing for a client, maybe do one item for free every now and then and on the invoice, put down that you are doing it for free to say thanks. I've done this a lot over the years, and in reality, I think I get more out of it than my customers. But I really do genuinely appreciate and value them.
So my advice is to look for ways where you can introduce "random acts of thank you" into your business. The idea is to make them spontaneous, unstructured and of value to the client. Don't be mean, that just gives people a sense of resentment in you and your business. Be generous with your spontaneity.