Showing Customer Appreciation During the Holidays: 8 Ideas for Lab Managers

The smaller your water lab is, the easier it is for you and your staff to express customer appreciation often. But even if you run a large lab where you don't work as closely with customers, it's still crucial for you to form these personal relationships. This can be done with year-round marketing efforts and giving thanks whenever you can, but the holidays present a golden opportunity for you to express your gratitude more intentionally.

Here are eight free or low-cost ways that your water lab can show customer appreciation during the most festive time of the year and beyond.

1. Call to Wish Them Happy Holidays

Have staff members reach out to customers they work closely with to check in and say, "Happy holidays," if appropriate. Not only does this demonstrate customer appreciation, but it can help you build loyalty and foster deeper professional relationships. Plus, they may have special water testing needs this time of year that they were too busy to reach out about. While these calls shouldn't be sales-driven, staff members should be trained to identify when these upsell opportunities present themselves.

2. Send Personal Holiday Cards

Sending thank you notes is always a great way to show customers just how much you love working with them. You can elevate this concept by sending out personalized holiday cards that tell each customer why they're such a valued part of your business. Several online businesses make it easy to create cards, including Deluxe, Minted, Vistaprint, SimplytoImpress, and the Gallery Collection. You could even send these out around Thanksgiving to let customers know how thankful you are for them. Or, if you miss the holiday boat altogether, you can send a New Year's card to start 2020 off right.

3. Give Them Something Sweet

Consider sending goodies to your customers' offices. Almost everyone appreciates cookies — they're delicious and can easily be shared, after all — but consider what they'd like most. Sending a fruit arrangement, flavored popcorn tins, or chocolate truffles are also good options. Have your front desk receptionist call to inquire about any dietary allergies or preferences so you can extend a gift that most of your client's staff can enjoy.

4. Send a Customized Gift Card

Gift cards are easy to buy online and send via email or give in a holiday card. They can be used for just about anything and customized based on your client's preferences, from covering a visit to their favorite coffee shop to picking up the tab at a popular restaurant. You can even go the safe route by sending a gift card from a major credit card company that can be used like cash anywhere.

5. Tailor Your Gift to the Water Business

Water labs should always promote appreciation of their bread and butter: pure ol' H2O. Gift your customers and their teams flasks, water bottles, cups, or thermoses with your logo so your company is top of mind while they're enjoying water wherever, whenever. Or go the creative route by giving books on water, ocean bracelets, zero-waste kits, or a Netflix subscription so they can watch documentaries about water, like "Blue Planet II," "Ocean Wonders," or "Mission Blue."

6. Hold a Holiday Open House

Give your customers the chance to see where their analysis takes place and who performs it. Make the event a three- to four-hour affair so guests can easily drop in. And don't forget to provide food and drinks. An open house gives your employees a chance to get to know your customers better over casual conversations in a laid-back environment.

7. Offer a Free Service

Is your lab is introducing a new service? If so, consider offering a free trial to certain customers. For example, if you've just become accredited to perform Legionella pneumophila testing, give customers who may benefit from this analysis the chance to try it before anyone else. This gesture expresses customer appreciation and is a great opportunity to promote a new service.

8. Forget Traditional Holidays Entirely

Look up a list of lesser-known national holidays and find one that resonates with your business model. Then, create a marketing campaign around this day. For National Hot Tub Day on March 28, for instance, you could share a newsletter with best practices for keeping sauna baths and whirlpools safe from waterborne contaminants. Or use National Beach Day on August 30 as an opportunity to remind pool and public site managers about the recreational water testing services you provide.

The holidays are the perfect time to express customer appreciation and strengthen the client relationships you've been building throughout the year. Through one of these eight simple acts, you can position your lab as not only a leader in the space but one that truly puts its customers first.

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Diana Kightlinger

Diana Kightlinger is an experienced journalist, copywriter, and blogger for science, technology, and medical organizations. She writes frequently for Fortune 500 corporate clients but also has a passion for explaining scientific research, raising awareness of issues, and targeting positive outcomes for people and communities. Diana holds master’s degrees in environmental science and journalism.