The 4 best ways to thank your customers (& why it works so well)

Oliver Bridge

99% of businesses undervalue the impact of thanking customers, and as a consequence spend far too little time doing it.

This is a shame, because it’s such an easy thing to do.

In this post we reveal:

  • Why thanking customers is overlooked and undervalued
  • The 4 key benefits of thanking customers properly
  • The 4 best (and least boring) ways to thank customers

Why thanking customers often gets overlooked

If you don't have a great system in place for thanking customers, don't worry, you're not alone.

One detailed study revealed that thanking customers gets overlooked for two key reasons:

1. Underestimating the impact it could have on the recipient

2. Overestimating how “awkward” the recipient would feel receiving it

Let's take a look at the first one of these.

In short, people and businesses will only say thank-you, or send personal thank-you notes when they know that the recipient will feel positive (and not awkward) about their thanking.

Most companies put in minimal effort, because they expect (and possibly fear) minimal outcomes. They set up an automated thank-you note, often via email, and leave it to run ad infinitum.

In essence, the sender removes themselves from the customer thanking equation, and lets the customer relationship run on autopilot. This is unfortunate, because the alternative route is so easy, and so much more effective. (More on that later, as we reveal the 4 best, and most impactful ways you can thank customers.)

Now, let’s address this point about awkwardness, because it bears thinking about properly.

To picture the “awkward recipient” effect in real-life, think of the last time you wrote a birthday card. You sit down to write it, think up all of the wonderful words you want to put down, fret about the order and meaning of those words for 10 minutes. Then when you finally write it, you pare it right back to something a lot less sentimental than the thing you had in your head.

To picture another scenario. Who hasn’t written a thank you note to a departing colleague in the furthest corner of the farewell card in fear that their message will look silly or overly gushing?

Thanking people can sometimes feel awkward and icky, but if you can overcome that initial fear and put in place a proper system, you'll unlock so many compound benefits.

The 4 key benefits of thanking your customers properly

Let’s look at the positive impacts thanking can have on your business, and discover 4 easy ways to level up your thanking game.

1. Thanking doubles your customers willingness to engage with you

A 2010 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that thanking people increased the likelihood of further actions by 100%.

The study investigated the effect of students thanking a mentor for helping with a cover letter. In a controlled experiment, those that sent back a letter just confirming they had received the CV vs. a group sending a letter thanking the mentor, were half as likely to be offered help the second time around (33% vs. 66%).

So the act of thanking doubled the recipients’ willingness to engage again. Imagine this thanking power translated into your own business and you can see the potential rewards for thanking your customers for their orders:

- The probability of new customers engaging with you shoots up dramatically

- Your ability to get positive reviews from those customers increases

- Their propensity to purchase from, or donate to, you a second time is much greater

- Their willingness to tell friends and colleagues about your product or service increases two-fold

In fact whilst writing this article, one of our long-time customers, Tim McElravy (Camp Director at the Lake Wenatchee YMCA Camp) posted this message in our private Bonjoro Facebook community (see image below) - he sent ONE thank you video to a past donor to his camp, and got an extra $3000 donation overnight! How's that for doubling engagement and outcomes, from one simple 2 minute thank-you video!?

Tellingly the same study showed that the effect of thanking is more powerful for people that we don’t know. So when it comes to your business, thanking customers for their orders, or thanking clients for their business, is an even greater use of your time and energy. Just as Tim found out.

2. It actually makes you (and your team) happier & healthier

Multiple studies have shown that being thankful, and thanking, can have positive physical effects on the sender, not just the recipient.

This study from two psychologists from the Universities of California and Miami, showed an association between gratitude and a person's wellbeing.

Participants were asked to write a few sentences each week focused on particular events. One group were asked to write things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. Another group recorded daily irritations, and a final group were told to record events that had affected them, with no emphasis on positive or negative.

The research concluded:

"Compared with their less grateful counterparts, grateful people are higher in positive emotions and life satisfaction and also lower in negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, and envy. They also appear to be more pro-socially oriented in that they are more empathic, forgiving, helpful, and supportive than are their less grateful counterparts.”

Another recent study uncovered similar findings:

"Gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait—more so than even optimism, hope, or compassion. . . Grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness and optimism. . . [They] can cope more effectively with everyday stress, show increased resilience in the face of trauma-induced stress, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health." 

We hear about this effect all the time here at Bonjoro. In fact, over 500 Bonjoro customers have sent more than 100 thank-you videos using our platform, and many of them report that as a team activity it has boosted morale and day-to-day productivity within their team.

Taking the time as an organisation, or as a team, to think about your approach to thanking customers can clearly have enormous benefits on internal company health.

3. It’s good for the recipient

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."  
-- Albert Schweitzer

Whilst this quote can apply to love, family, chance encounters, support in a time of need, I think it's also applicable to simple thanking. We are so often disconnected from the companies we buy from, that something as simple as a thank-you note delivered with your package can light a flame inside you, make you feel valued, and make you feel that spark of human connection in what might otherwise be a faceless online interaction.

In fact, multiple studies have shown that thanking increases the wellbeing of the recipient. In August this year, the University of Texas released a paper on thanking the showed that "The gesture [of thanking] improves well-being for not only letter writers but recipients as well."

Think back to the last time someone thanked you properly, and it's not difficult to see why you should be thanking your customers, and sparking that little flame within them.

4. You set off a positive chain reaction

The 2010 study referenced earlier, showed that people who were thanked not only experienced stronger feelings of self-efficacy and self worth, but were motivated to engage in more 'pro-social' behaviour.

In effect, you thanking your customer for their order can set off a chain reaction where they feel compelled to pass on your message, or thank others themselves. Your 30 seconds sending a thank-you video to one customer, might cascade into 100 customers all thanking their customers too.

From the study:

“When helpers are thanked for their efforts, they stronger feelings of self-efficacy and social worth, which motivate them to engage in prosocial behaviour. In Experiments 1 and 2, receiving a brief written expression of gratitude motivated helpers to assist both the beneficiary who expressed gratitude and a different beneficiary.”

The 4 best ways to thank your customers

This is all fantastic, but how do can you translate these findings into your own business in a way that is both scalable and impactful?

Here are 4 quick tips we compiled for you, to help you thank your customers in a more systematic way. Check out our 8 best tools for delighting customers, and our customer delight white-paper for other potent approaches to delighting customers.

1. Use Bonjoro to send personalized thank-you videos:

We’re not going to lie, when it comes to thanking customers as a way of achieving positive business outcomes (like 5 star reviews, and repeat purchases), personalized videos is the number one most scalable, and powerful, thing you can do.

Just this month, we had two customers contact us to share how using videos to thank customers for orders had dramatically impacted their own business growth. One company, Munkstore, told us how Bonjoro videos had helped them get to #1 on Trustpilot for their category. You can watch an example video by MunkStore here - you can see how engaging and delightful this approach to thanking customers can be, hence the incredible outcomes they are seeing.

2. Throw in a little extra surprise! (aka: "package inserts")

This is something we’re seeing more companies doing. When someone buys from you, add a little extra surprise to their package to inject a bit more delight into the whole experience.

Shopify has an excellent blog on how to approach Ecommerce packaging inserts here. And this needn't just be the domain of Ecommerce - this applies to agencies, consultants, software companies, creatives, creators, charities and all sorts of entrepreneurs. A fairly small investment financially, but one that will make a big impression on your customer, and encourage trust and loyalty from Day 1.

3. Put your customer thanking in the most unexpected place

Some customer actions can get overlooked. You don’t just have to thank customers for spending their money with you. As a software company we like to surprise customers with little sprinkles of thanks at some more unexpected moments.

This GIF of our Chief Technology Officer, Mitch, took us 10 minutes to make, but when used as part of our Live Chat messaging it generates masses of engagement with customers, and provides a constant stream of insight from our customers which helps us build a better product.

Hey, and if you're a little unsure about GIFs, and how to use them in the business environment, we put together this bumper guide to using GIFs for sales and marketing 👍.

We even send bear-onesies to customers who hit 1000 videos sent. It’s silly sure, but the message is “we see you, we value you, and we want to show that we care!”

4. Systematise your approach to thanking

Here at Bonjoro, we do a thing called Thank-You-Thursday - every Thursday we send thank you videos to customers just as a way of showing appreciation.

It keeps us all aligned and ensures customers don’t fall through the cracks when it comes to appreciation. As our Founder Matt wrote last year, customer appreciation is critical to customer retention, so you better make sure that customers feel valued and loyal. Thanking them is just one way of ensuring this.

So, pick a day when you're going to thank your customers, and stick to it. You'll have a whole lot of fun, and you'll feel refreshed, energised and more connected with your customers than ever.

Let’s start thanking our customers more!

Have a little think about your own business. Is there a moment of your customer's journey that gets overlooked? Why not dial it up with a little thanks, because as the old adage goes: "a little thanks goes a long way". And this couldn’t be more true in business.

Growth tips
About the author
Oliver Bridge
Growth Grizzly
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