Customer Gift, Making Right Gesture | Woman with Gift Box

Customer Gifts: Making a Nice Gesture the Right Gesture

As many regular readers know, we purchased a new house at the end of last year. The builder did a good job overall, giving great customer service in some areas but failing to deliver the house on time, which diminished the overall customer experience.

Last week, after many months living in the house, the maintenance supervisor dropped by the house and presented us with a gift: a framed certificate stating that we have a Energy Star® certified home.

Now, we love the fact that our home is energy efficient — good for the wallet and the environment — and we appreciate having a formal certificate showing the Energy Star® certification. However, this certification is something that we would place in a file — not in a frame on a wall.

Perhaps some people would like something like this in their home, but based on the few people we asked, it seems as if most people would feel as we did.

The gift was a nice gesture, but it got me thinking about how important it is in customer service to make the right gesture not just a nice gesture.

One Shot at a Customer Gift

Customer Gift, Making Right Gesture | Woman with Gift BoxIf you are going to make the investment in customer gifts, it behooves you to make sure that you are giving a gift that your customers actually want. Few companies do gifts beyond the typical branded swag like pens and hats; even fewer companies have the budget allocated to do multiple gifts.

In many cases, you get one shot at making your gift count.

The ultimate form of customer gift is one that is customized to the customer’s individual preferences and desires. Of course, customization is easier said than done and is much easier in certain industries than others.

However, even non-customized gifts should be mass-customized to what you know about your customer base. And more importantly…

Customer gifts should be about your customers, not your company. (Tweet this)

When we received the framed energy certification, here were our thoughts, in order.

  1. What a nice gesture.
  2. What a strange gesture. It seems more appropriate for a business client, not a residential one.
  3. It’s almost like they want us advertising their energy efficient homes.

The gift seemed to be as much about the company as about us.

Customer Gifts Done Right

Ironically, to give an example of customer gift giving done right, I need go no further than our same builder.

When we closed on the house, we were presented with a nice outdoor doormat with the initial of our last name. It was a nice gift, a useful gift, and customized enough to give it a hint of personalization.

It was a gift that fit the relationship between us and the company and that we almost certainly needed.

In the absence of a truly personalized gift, it was a thoughtful gesture that was also the right gesture because it added value to our lives (one less thing we had to buy for our new house). We appreciated the gift more because we found it useful.

Customer gifts are opportunities to make impressions with your customers. Make sure the the gift you give sends the right message and makes the impression you want it to make.

What is the nicest gift from a company you have ever received? Have you ever gotten one that missed the mark?


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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