The Greatest Gift You Can Give to Any Customer

Gene Marks

Someone recently asked me if I give thank you gifts to my customers.

I do, but I’m not sure it’s really necessary.

Whenever I finish a project, or even make a presentation to a business group, my office sends a $25 Godiva Chocolates basket with a card as a thank you. Not only that, but I have this thing where, for the past few years, I’ve been choosing one client at random every month and also sending them a $25 Godiva Chocolates gift basket. This has definitely made the people at Godiva Chocolates very happy (in fact, I received a personal thank you call from the company last holiday season for our business).

But, more importantly, has this made my clients happy?

Sure, it hasn’t hurt. I’ve received thank you emails from them regarding my thank you gift to them (got that?). It’s a nice touch and, for the few hundred dollars it costs me a year, I think it’s something I’ll continue. But frankly, this should not be my primary gift to my clients. Neither should it be yours. Our primary gift should be one thing and one thing only: Delivering. As. Promised.

Gift cards, chocolates, and holiday greetings are nice. But if you’re doing work for me, all I really want is for you to just do what you say you’re going to do:

  • Show up on time
  • Finish your job on time
  • Do a good job
  • Don’t give me headaches
  • Take ownership
  • Figure things out
  • Deliver. As. Promised

The world is full of too many people and organizations who simply don’t do what they say they’re going to do:

  • They make excuses
  • They are late
  • They are incompetent
  • They go over-budget
  • They don’t listen
  • They don’t ask

You know this. You experience this all the time. Your package is not delivered on its due date. The raw materials you ordered get shipped to the wrong place. Your customer who said he was going to pay you this week … didn’t. Your computer crashes after an update. Your plane is delayed because the crew was getting McDonald’s. Your promised loan isn’t approved after all.

All of this has happened to me — and yes, they were late to the plane because they were actually getting McDonald’s. I’m sure much of this has happened to you too.

All day we suffer with people and organizations who disappoint us. We pay and we don’t get what’s promised. We keep up our end, but they don’t keep up theirs. We’re then forced to figure out alternatives, workarounds, and excuses for the other organizations and customers that are relying on us because now we can’t deliver as promised.

The answer is to Deliver. As. Promised. Don’t over-promise. Be realistic. Be upfront. Be transparent. If you can’t get something done on time, then communicate that and say when you will get it done. If something is over your head, admit that and get help. If you are making assurances based on estimates and guesses, get better facts first.

People, particularly those of us running businesses, don’t like surprises. We would prefer to deal in reality. We want to be assured that, when someone tells us they’re competent, trained, certified, and experienced, it means that we can rely on them to do what they say they’ll do.

Giving gifts is nice. But it’s really not gifts that your customers want from you. It’s execution, plain and simple. Happily paying and coming back for more? Now that’s the best gift they can give to us!

Tell Us: Do you give your clients or customers thank you gifts? What do you give them?

24 Responses to "The Greatest Gift You Can Give to Any Customer"
    • Tamar | December 10, 2019 at 8:23 am

      We give gifts, when we can afford to, from other companies that we work for – that way we are supporting them (#ShoppingLocal), and gifting at the same time.
      However, I love what you said and we need to work on many of these things as well.
      Thank you so much for the article.

      • Chloe Silverman | December 10, 2019 at 8:57 am

        Thank you for the comment! We are glad you enjoyed this article.

    • Gene Marks | December 23, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      Great replies everyone. I admit…I just sent out some gifts to a few valued clients. I don’t know if they will appreciate it…but it made me feel good! Happy holidays!

    • Robin Stock | December 20, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Every Year I make Homemade Apple Cider, Apple Sauce, and Bread for all of my employees and customers at Thanksgiving to say Thank you. Also once a year I take my employees on a small vacation to the beach or camping. This year I included the Builders and some customers to enjoy an evening of snow tubing with Green Earth Cleaning Company. It’s great to give and It’s great to have fun.

    • Ashley L | December 12, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      I own a dog daycare business. Every year at Christmas time I put together photo remembrance ornaments for our clients that had a dog pass away. I use photos that we have taken of their dog, personalize it with the dog’s name, and send it with a personal note from our staff. The ornaments are versatile and can be made into a key chain or keepsake in the event the client does not celebrate Christmas. I then gift wrap them and mail them to the client’s home. While it is an incredibly emotional process for me, I absolutely love doing it because I know how much it means to them!

      • Elizabeth Larkin | December 13, 2017 at 8:54 am

        Wow! That’s an amazing gift.


    • Josephine | December 12, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      So many bitter people. Don’t get offended or upset if this guy decided to buy Godiva instead of chocolates from a local shop. Stop complaining and judging! People always find fault in something or someone. I won’t even bother in reading your bitter replies or post. Be happy! You all really need it!

    • Evelyn Graham | December 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      How and what kind of gifts can you give to government customers? There are legal restrictions and it’s hard to figure out what’s good, what’s not good, and what’s the customer’s expectation.

    • Gerald S. | December 12, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      I give the gift of friendship. You can’t put a price on friendship. Who wants to be my friend?

    • Laurie Moore | December 12, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Forget about the gifts, people! This is about conducting your business with solid, old school values. Thank you.

    • ICON SALON MANAGEMENT MARY D. RIVAS | December 12, 2017 at 10:33 am

      At holiday and Christmas I like to give a goodie bag that includes a certificate with a discount on future services in the salon. At this time when every one is budgeting any discount helps even in our hair salons.

    • Gary williams | December 12, 2017 at 10:19 am

      I give a $100. Gift card to the city I consult for each Christmas and they raffle it off to an employee at their annual Christmas dinner. It keeps a good relationship with my company and the city.
      Gary Williams/PCL consulting

    • Ray Cebold | December 12, 2017 at 10:02 am

      Having sold for 25 years, I understand all to well that as a sales person all you have is your credibility. You learn very quickly that you must execute – do what you say you’re going to – or you won’t get, let alone keep, any customers. Flawless execution is the gift that keeps on giving.

    • Anne | December 12, 2017 at 9:23 am

      This was a great article! There are a lot good points made and some that can even be shared with the folks on the front lines who deal with our company’s customers. I’ve enjoyed and learned from your other articles, but this is the first time I am commenting! Thank you!

    • Robyn Young | December 12, 2017 at 9:09 am

      I deliver as promised and I send a Thanksgiving Giving card with a landscape or wildlife photograph I have taken.

    • Dorothy Bi | December 12, 2017 at 7:38 am

      Precious ideas, and great reminders.

      Best gift surely, thanks!


      Dorothy Bi

    • Vincent gisnaasio | December 12, 2017 at 4:28 am

      Thanks we do similar rewards for our clients but use fruit baskets. Add ask for referrals as satisfied clients are happy to refer!

    • Melissa Broussard | December 12, 2017 at 1:31 am

      I gave all my clients a Christmas card & a tin of cookies this Christmas. In addition, business as usual And as always, do a little something extra cleaning at no charge. I look at it like this—They depend on my service and I depend on their payment. Hard quality work always pays off at the end.
      ~Missy’s Cleaning Service~

    • Ira Guttman | December 12, 2017 at 12:00 am

      For a company that says it’s all about small business, you choose a huge corporation like Godiva from which to purchase your client gifts. How about suggesting to your readers that they support a local chocolate shop when they choose to send their clients a thank-you? Everyone talks a great game when they say “Support your local small businesses!”, but when it comes down to actions, they rarely do it themselves.

    • Samantha | December 11, 2017 at 11:06 pm

      Very well put.

    • Michele canary | December 11, 2017 at 10:29 pm

      In our area of expertise, we do not do the whole gift thing to customers who are not regulars. Now the regulars we will get gifts for usually under the 50 dollar mark and since we are in their homes, it’s simple to know what they would like or need and much appreciate from us. I’ve never had a gift given where they weren’t very happy yet. Now as for the sometimers, a simple merry Christmas and happy holidays love us always is a good thing. As far as losing money, we have not yet as the regulars are the ones who tip us quite nicely for Christmas so we are making money even after gifting

    • Kennth “ Sarge” Smith | December 11, 2017 at 10:27 pm

      I like this subject and this is my first time for me to respond. I have a small but blessed janitorial business. What gift can can I give to my clients outside of doing the job that is expected of my company? I’m not sure if this even applies to me or not. Now I do thank my customer every chance I get. I look forward to hearing comments from other members. Happy Holidays to everyone and To God Be The Glory! Remember Jesus is why we are here.

    • Sarahbeth Marshall | December 11, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      It would be wonderful if, instead of suggest Godiva, you suggest a small business that actually uses Hartford for insurance….or ANY small business that uses the Hartford. Support your small businesses!

1 Trackback

Leave a Reply

Disclaimer: Comments are subject to moderation and removal without cause or justification and may take up to 24 hours to be seen in comments. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Please do not include personal policy information; if you have questions or concerns regarding your policy with The Hartford, please log into your account or you can speak directly to a Customer Service Representative.