“Feeling gratitude, and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

It’s the holiday season, full of good cheer! Peace on earth, good will toward men (and women!).

It’s also the most hectic and (sometimes) most stressful time of the year, so you want to make sure your business or your employees do not add to the stress of your customers.

You want your customers to remember you for all the good and right reasons, not the bad, as this will make your holiday, and indeed your whole year, that much happier and more profitable. Repeat Business and Customer Loyalty will always positively affect your bottom line (and your stress level) any time of year!

Here are 12 ways to say “Thank You” and brighten someone’s day during the stressful holiday season, as well as any other time of the year.

1. Say “Thank You”. Say it in person, say it in an email or e-card, say it in a handwritten thank you note or even a thank you video. It goes a long way and doesn’t cost much money at all. Many times it’s free! Be careful—when you say it, make sure you mean it. People can see right through insincerity.

2. Personalize your service. Depending on your business, get to know your customers on a personal level (not too personal, that’s just creepy). What is their profession, do they have kids, are they active in the community? Knowing the answers can help you personalize a product or service that you offer. And you might get to know some pretty interesting people!

3. Publicly thank your customers on social media. If you have a Facebook page, Twitter presence or Instagram account, thank special customers with a “shout-out” or photo wall. You can also post something on your company website.

4. Endorse or recommend a customer’s business. If you know one of your customers has their own business, and you have no problem endorsing or recommending them to your community, that is a great way of building good will. And with any luck, they will do the same for you.

5. Offer gift cards, discount codes or upgrades. It doesn’t have to be for everyone, just your most loyal customers. A great way to say “thanks”.

6. Donate to a charity in their name. Let your customers know if you have any favorite charities, or find out what theirs are, and let them know you will donate in their honor.

7. Host or sponsor an event. It can be a fundraiser for a specific cause or person or just a holiday party for the kids of your employees.

8. Pay attention to details and anticipate customer needs. Try to be pro-active and see if there is anything your customers (or you) may be over-looking. For example, are the items in stock, will the shipping dates be okay, are the return policies in their best interest? Will they need more memory or an extra charging cable? It never hurts to ask, and it may lead to more sales. Because they are so stressed, they’ll appreciate you looking out for them.

9. Never pass up an opportunity to “wow” your customers. People remember the small, unexpected, usually inexpensive things. If you close up shop at 5:00 pm, and as you are walking out the door at 5:03 pm someone rushes up, telling you traffic was a mess, their kids wouldn’t stop screaming and they meant to get there at 4:30 pm, is your policy to nicely tell them you will open again at 9:00 am the next morning? Or do you open up again right then even if it means you might be there another 30 minutes?

10. If you mess up, take ownership. Apologize and make it right, even if it ends up costing you money. You will probably re-coup the amount and more, as according to Lee Resources, 70% of customers will do business with you again if you resolve a concern or complaint in their favor, and in a timely manner. So do it.

11. Do something funny or out of character. Everyone likes to laugh. Do something self-deprecating, or create a funny holiday video, i.e. Jib Jab e-card.

12. It’s okay to (sometimes) break the rules. I was at the airport checking in for a flight. My luggage at home weighed in at 47 pounds, but at the airport the scale said 50½ pounds, ½ pound over the weight limit! As you can imagine, the person behind the counter made me take out a half pound of crap (I mean a present for my family) and put it in my carry-on luggage. Seriously? It’s the holidays! It’s all still going on the plane. Empower your people to be human and use good judgment.

So have a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! And if you don’t celebrate either of those holidays, have a fantastic December, and a Joyous New Year! You’ll feel great showing gratitude to and for your customers!

Paul Rutter is a customer loyalty, repeat business and customer service expert, a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and business author. He has had the unique opportunity to live with his customers and co-workers for months at a time traveling the world, and shares his experiences with land based businesses. For more information on More Than Perfect® Service, contact Paul at Paul@PaulRutterSpeaks.com, follow him on Twitter on @RealPaulRutter or visit him on Facebook/PaulRutterSpeaks.

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