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13 Ways to Show Customers You Love Them A bigger marketing budget is great but it doesn't cost much to let customers know you appreciate them.

By Firas Kittaneh Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Big businesses can spend a lot of money to buy customer happiness and loyalty but small business have to work harder to give their users the best. Fortunately, smaller companies with more conservative budgets have plenty of creative ways to delight, surprise and evangelize users.

Investing in customer service pays big dividends. Passionate buyers have a higher average order value, purchasing frequency and tendency to tell their friends. In order to regularly "wow' clients, here are 13 things you must try.

1. Acknowledge their contributions.

In 2011, Lily Robinson, 3, wrote a letter to UK supermarket chain Sainsbury imploring it to rename its "tiger bread" to the more appropriate "giraffe bread" (based solely on its appearance). Sainsbury agreed and restocked its shelves with the bread under the new name, along with signs around the store crediting one clever customer for the suggestion.

When a user recommends ways to change or improve any aspect of your business, whether it be your website, logistics or sales cycle, be prepared to act on their best feedback. Then, let the world know who deserves credit for the innovative idea.

Related: 5 Ways to Take Customer Loyalty to the Next Level

2. Break the rules.

Leave room for serendipity. When interacting with customers, it is easy to read from a script that tells you to do X when the conditions are A, B and C. Make exceptions when your customers have uncommon issues and asking you for help. Promocode expired? No worries. Give them a new and better one. Consider yourself lucky that they would even give you the chance to deliver happiness instead of abandoning your site and falling out of your sales cycle entirely.

3. Celebrate an odd holiday.

May 25th is National Tap Dance Day. Will you post a funny gif for your social media fans and followers to see? Find a fun holiday each month and celebrate it with your customers. They will appreciate sharing the unique experience and will love how quirky you are.

4. Empower your user.

Provide customers with applications to help them be better at their jobs or in life. Offer other resources allowing them to reach their full personal or professional potential, too. For example, HubSpot does a great job by providing users with tools like Marketing Grader to identify how well their online marketing works plus areas for improvement.

5. Free extras and upgrades!

One of the simplest and least expensive ways to surprise and delight users is with complimentary perks. Express shipping and sample products generally won't bite into your margins but do increase revenue. In fact, when customers know they can have instant gratification and get the chance to try some of your other products, they are incredibly likely to make additional purchases to fulfill immediate needs and order more of the products they've already sampled.

6. Give a gift to pass on.

While referrals are one of the main drivers of growth for companies like Uber, Instacart and AirBnB, many users feel uncomfortable about the give-and-get incentive scheme. Instead, make your clients look good by giving them a gift they can only share with someone they care about, without receiving anything in return. The satisfaction of giving to others will be all they need -- not another $20 in free Uber credit.

7. Hand deliver goods.

Meet your customers in-person in a wacky manner. Come carrying an obnoxiously sized box filled with goodies or wearing an animal suit for laughs and giggles. Your most active users will cherish the face-to-face experience and will have a story to tell everyone they know later.

Related: 25 Tips for Earning Customer Loyalty

8. Invite them to hang out.

Give your best clients a behind-the-scenes experience to learn who you and your team really are, and what your product represents. Extend a special invite to some of your coolest customers to come hang out for a day at the office, at your production facility or at an exclusive mixer bringing together some of the greatest minds in your industry.

9 Make fun of yourself.

Be a bit silly and vulnerable. Self-deprecating humor can go a long way. In a blog post for Contently, Jillian Richardson lists five brands that playfully made fun of themselves. Examples include Internet Explorer's collaboration video with Onion Labs titled, "Uninstall," and Dissolve's "This Is a Generic Brand Video".

10. Offer a giveaway.

Bundle a bunch of goods together and create a sweepstakes your customers can enter. Deliver the winning prizes to a handful or a dozen users at random and give the other entrants a consolation prize. Coupon codes when users least expect it always work wonders .

11. Recognize them on social media.

Everyone loves a virtual high-five, so retweet a fan's post, reply with your thoughts on a cool article a customer shared or honor them publicly with an award you just made up. Dunkin Donuts took this idea to a whole new level by selecting some of its Twitter followers to star in upcoming YouTube commercials.

12. Share a Snapchat or Vine.

When your customers are halfway around the world, an in-person meet might not be feasible. That said, you can turn to Snapchat or Vine to share visual content that describes what you do, why you do it and the people you work with to create, produce and deliver the items your customer ultimately receives. When you tell stories about a customer's purchase, they get to fully appreciate your brand and the effort you put into everything you do.

13. Tell their story.

Your clients are real people with powerful stories. Blank Label, a menswear retailer, recently launched its Made To Fit campaign which demonstrates the transformation customers have undergone with their new, custom-made garments. The brand makes it a point to talk about who its clients are as human beings. That authenticity goes a long way to develop rapport with existing users and engage prospective buyers who might relate more with an interaction designer, medical student or 6'7" oceanographer -- real people -- instead of the aspirational male model driving around in a $100,000 sports car.

Related: Enchant Customers With the Story Behind Your Brand

What's one special tactic you use to deliver happiness for your customers and users?
Firas Kittaneh

Serial Entrepreneur • CEO at Amerisleep • CEO at OCLU

Firas Kittaneh is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of amerisleep. Most recently, he launched OCLU to improve how we record our most memorable moments.

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