Have you ever gotten a really bad thank you? An email from a colleague that seems forced or a gift from a company that you immediately gave away — maybe a quacking stuffed duck from your insurance broker or an ugly fleece in the wrong size from a vendor at work?

Although well-intended, these thank yous feel generic. Instead of bringing a smile to your face, they remind you of the obligatory card you had to write your great aunt after she gave you $20. When it’s mandatory, appreciation loses its charm.

But genuine expressions of gratitude are meant to be shared. There are so many unique ways to thank your customers that there’s no reason why your appreciation shouldn’t delight, even when it’s done on a shoestring.

Free PDF: 25 Ways to Thank Your Customers

Free PDF: 25 Ways to Thank Your Customers

Ready to turn customers into advocates? Download this handy guide to building a loyal customer base.

These gestures don’t go unnoticed either. When you thank customers in unique ways, they’re likely to share it publicly. With the holidays around the corner, consider our favorite ways to surprise a customer with a thank you:

Feel-good gifts

The Grommet

The Grommet

This e-commerce website is dedicated to supporting independent artisans and makers. Their “Gifts under $25” section is chock-full of kind ways to thank customers — and you can even sort their 100 options by do-gooder status. If you want to buy the same gift for everyone, bulk order from their team.

A small donation

Slack Shop

Nothing says thank you like a thoughtful donation to someone in need. Slack, for example, gives the proceeds from their Slack Shop to the non-profit The Last Mile, which offers in-prison software engineering training. Take their approach a step further by donating a small amount in honor of each customer. You can send a personalized note to every member of your community describing the gift and make everyone’s day.

Spontaneous surprise

It’s tough to imagine giving a spot-on thank you if you don’t know the recipient. For a real surprise, take time to dig around in your customers’ social media accounts. Look for clues about their interests and passions. Maybe they’re obsessed with their dog or can’t live without a big mug of coffee in the morning. Ship them something specific, like a dog toy or some coffee beans from a local brewer. People are astounded when you make the effort to give them something personal that they’ll love.

Conference thank yous

Straight cash

Imagine someone giving you a wad of cash at a conference. You’d take some, right? Cintell included giant buttons in their attendee bags with a card that read, “Wear this pin, and you could win cold hard cash.”

Their team spent the conference walking around and handing out money to pin-wearers. Not only did they get a zillion leads, they genuinely made their customers’ lives better with this unexpected gift.

A photo booth

Photobooth at SupConf 2016

Help Scout sponsored a photo booth at the first SupConf in May 2016. Clearly, no one had any fun at all.

Gone are the days of giving out framed photos. Instead, offer your customers the 21st-century version: a professional photo booth at industry events. Whether attendees want a formal headshot or a goofy photo with their favorite teammates, they get a fun and personalized thank you.


Companies like The Danger Booth, 2 Dudes & a Booth, and GIF-booth company Phhhoto do all the work for you (including sending the photos and GIFs to guests). If you want to go even bigger, consider turning the best photos into Fracture frames and send them to superstar customers.

Unexpected office supplies

Monogrammed notebooks

Appointed custom notebooks

In the ’90s, everything was monogrammed: key chains, wallets, L.L. Bean backpacks. This trend is back in style for office gear. Companies like Shinola and Appointed will personalize their gorgeous notebooks and ship them to happy customers for you. Field Notes makes it easy to add a logo to their vintage-style notebooks too! The American-made gifts from these three companies are super sophisticated and practical.

Themed coloring books

Last year, American adults bought $12 million worth of coloring books! Coloring shares some of the same mindfulness effects as meditation and yoga, but with a dash of childlike whimsy. Ride the trend by surprising your customers with branded coloring books like the ones from Mailchimp.

A quick thanks

“Just Because” discounts

If you really want to invoke a warm and fuzzy feeling from your customers, give them a discount for no reason. In this age of endless promotions, a “just because” deal feels remarkably human. It reminds customers that we’re all people, and not every promotion needs to be about the bottom line.

Handwritten cards

Lovepop cards

Nothing beats an old-fashioned handwritten note. We like to send Lovepop cards. Developed by a team of engineers and designers, these cards “pop” into enchanting paper sculptures. If you don’t have the bandwidth to write one yourself, Lovepop’s staff can do that for you.

A budget-friendlier option is a simple but heartfelt thank-you note on nice stationery. When you write customers, pass the card around and have your entire team sign.

Appointed custom notebooks

Free stickers

We love giving out our Humans of Support stickers. Sticker Mule makes it easy because of their speedy turnaround and free shipping. Misadventures Magazine has a different approach, hosting an annual sticker day. Our suggestion is to line up your sticker giveaway with the national Sticker Day Holiday on January 13.

This list is just the beginning. Any more ideas to add? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.


Need even more ideas for building a loyal customer base?

Devin Bramhall

Devin Bramhall

Devin is a storyteller, writer, marketer and Help Scout alum. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.