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6 Exceptional Examples of Brands Showing Their Customer Appreciation Even a small investment here can result in a tremendous increase in brand visibility and loyalty. So, what are you waiting for?

Edited by Dan Bova

Bloomberg | Getty Images

Your company would be nothing without your customers. But, what have you done lately to show how much you appreciate them?

Related: Host a Big Event, and Watch Your Customer Base Grow

Customer appreciation comes in a variety of forms. It starts with making a great product or performing a great service that's worth what you charge. The next level is making sure the entire customer experience is as smooth as possible, and providing above-and-beyond support for your most important (or irate) customers.

Some brands, however, go far beyond what's expected of them in these regards: They display a level of customer appreciation that's simply astounding. Or, they deliver customer experiences that are unforgettable in the minds of those in their demographic. Here are some of those companies:

1. Maker's Mark

Maker's Mark is a bourbon company that specializes in making small batches. The company currently has a popular ambassador program, reserved for some of its most loyal customers, which comes with unique perks that will undoubtedly make those customers love the brand even more.

When you sign up for the program, for instance, you get a number of benefits; for starters, your name is put on a real barrel of aging Maker's Mark bourbon, with updates as to how "your" bourbon is aging. You're also able to buy a bottle from your own batch, and you have privileged access to Ambassadors-only merchandise, to separate you from the rest of the crowd. Rumor has it that Maker's Mark also sends some free swag around the holidays as a show of appreciation.

2. WestJet

WestJet is a few years old at this point, but this Canadian airline still created one of the most impressive and creative customer appreciation campaigns I've seen. Back in 2013, around the holidays, WestJet released a video encouraging its customers to perform random acts of kindness, which it described as "mini miracles." The company has kept this tradition alive for years now; and, last year, it encouraged its customers to perform 12,000 miracles, all using the hashtag #WestJetChristmas to keep the idea going.

Related: Why Gratitude Is Your Key To Customer Growth and Retention

The brand benefits from some additional visibility here, but the campaign itself is non-promotional and serves as a brilliant way to give back to the community.

3. Picky Bars Club

Picky Bars is a subscription service that sends healthy, nutritionally dense bars designed for consumption during exercise to your house on a monthly basis. By joining the "Picky Club," you get regular deliveries to your doorstep as well as several free perks, including a T-shirt, updates and opportunities to try new flavors. Perhaps best of all are the surprise goodies the team sends (apparently whenever they feel like it).

The "surprise" factor is probably the most appealing here, since customers never know what they're going to get or when they're going to get it.

4. Pizza Hut

Back in 2013, Pizza Hut took advantage of some of the usual sentiments around Valentine's Day for a humorous and valuable giveaway program. Revolving around the hashtag #LastMinuteLovers, the campaign was directed at spouses and significant others who'd procrastinated on Valentine's Day plans and gifts.

Running from February 11 to February 13, right until Valentine's Day, the program entailed Pizza Hut giveaways of 24 gifts -- a pizza-scented perfume along with a $20 gift card -- with the promise that it would be delivered in time for Valentine's Day. The campaign reinforced the brand's playful personality and increased visibility for the chain.

5. AT&T

AT&T doesn't sell specific products the way Maker's Mark does; so, to make customers loyal,and make its brand more visible and competitive, it has had to take some drastic action. When the company hit more than two million followers on Facebook, it went out of its way to show its appreciation for its customers.

The company hired a "house band" of professionally trained musicians, then encouraged its existing customer base to send AT&T videos about why these musicians were "awesome" and why they deserved to be appreciated. The company then created more than 2,000 unique custom videos for the customer submissions it thought were best, and distributed them as personalized thank-you messages.

6. Squishable

Squishable makes stuffed animal pillows, but in its own words, the brand is a democracy. Rather than sending its loyal customers free gifts or offering discounts to long-time purchasers, Squishable shows appreciation by allowing customers to dictate what the company makes next. Specifically, its Facebook page has ongoing running polls where users vote about what animal images will go into production next.

This has been running for years, and apparently fans appreciate having that choice. Certainly, giving your customers a voice is never a bad thing; it shows you care about them and doesn't cost a thing. Sometimes, the most powerful displays of appreciation are the simplest.

The ROI of customer appreciation

There's no right or wrong way to show you appreciate your customers -- as long as your customers see and value the gesture. You can spend thousands of dollars on a campaign or just spend a few minutes writing a thank-you note. Use these examples to spark your own creativity and dream up new ways to show your customers what they really mean to you.

Related: 5 Ways To Thank Your Customers Before Your Competitors Do

Even a small investment here can result in a tremendous increase in brand visibility and loyalty among your current customers -- so don't waste the opportunity.

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