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20 Inexpensive Ways to Surprise and Delight Your Customers

There's a lot of noise out there right now. It's hard for a business to break through.

But let's say you do and someone is trying you out for the first time. How can you not only exceed their expectations but delight them in a way they'll be talking about you later. Here are a few ideas on how you can make a big impression:

Making a big impression on a new customer means doing something that stands out, something they haven't experienced before. If that sounds costly, know that it doesn't have to be.

While each business is different, and you should analyze your own to see how these ideas or even better ones fit in, most businesses present these types of opportunities that can be customized to make an impact on your customers. Things like improving the wait or surprising them in little ways are particularly effective.

Try these ideas for your businesses:

1. Add a surprise to what they're buying. This could be a sample or a quick tissue-paper wrap inside the bag. When they open their bag, they'll be thrilled to find that special something.

2. Add an invitation/instructions for them to upload a picture of themselves and their new item or share a pic on your social media platform of choice with a specified hashtag. Give them a future discount for doing it.

3. Offer free samples in store, such as a warm (or cold) beverage or warm cookies. Not only are those special treats when shopping but they make your business smell delicious.

4. Engage them in conversation and then make a suggestion for something in your business that you think they may like based on what you know about them.

5. Have a smile for everyone and make them feel welcome.

6. See every customer as someone you can learn from. It's amazing what you can discover when you adopt this attitude.

7. Ask if they'd like to sign up for receiving notices about sales and coupons. Then send them a thank-you postcard with a discount. Send them one for a friend too.

8. Make the exterior and interior of your business warm and inviting. Setting has a lot to do with how long someone stays and browses.

9. Email them to check on their product. Are they enjoying it? Do they have any questions? Don't ask them to fill out a survey. These things are getting too widespread. They are now detracting from customer experience. Now even calling your credit card company with a name change elicits a survey.

10. Walk them out. If they just made a big purchase with you and you can spare the time (meaning there's no line at your cash register), walk them to the door like you would a guest. Thank them again for their business. Give them your card, if they don't already have it.

11. Compliment them or their selection. Or both.

12. Hide a fun fortune or inspirational quote in their package.

13. Offer a loyalty program that you keep track of for them. Punch cards, key chains, and mobile apps can be tiresome to customers when they need a unique one for every business they patronize. Instead, keep track of it for them.

14. If you offer discounts like AAA or AARP, ask them if they have the membership. Since asking about AARP can get you into hot water, you may want to instead tell them the discount programs you offer and let them share with you which they belong to.

15. If you see someone trying to decide between two things, why not offer them a discount if they get both? It's the type of thing they'll remember and might inspire them to buy more each time.

16. Throw something in for free. This is different than the little surprise mentioned earlier. For customers who spend quite a bit with you, give them a little something free. You can keep a handful of things at the register and offer them their choice as a thank you.

17. Tell a story about the item. Purchases are generally emotional things. Stories can help with that.

18. Have treats for their special loves. Keep dog treats and treats for kids on hand. Offering thee sorts of things can keep people shopping longer.

19. Hand out a fresh flower to everyone who comes into your business.

20. Always explain next steps. The next step might be as easy as telling them to go home and enjoy their purchase and come back to see you soon or reexplaining the delivery process. Whatever the next step is in the customer relationship, make sure they are clear on it. Your website has a call to action. You want to leave them with the next step in your business relationship.

Finally, it's not hard to make an impression on a customer. Often, it's the little things that make the biggest differences. These suggestions should give you some ideas of how to delight your customers. Now look over these and brainstorm how you can make them an even better fit for your business.

Christina R. Green is a writer and speaker who helps small businesses and chambers reach their audiences through content (without exclamation points). Her advice on crafting a memorable business story and creating content that resonates with customers has appeared in Associations North magazine, Association Now, and Event Manager's Blog. She is a regular blogger on



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