How to Avoid Giving the Wrong Client Appreciation Gift

I had a new client come to me by referral. The project was a great fit and then the deadline sped up. We finalized everything Friday and I needed to have it done by noon on Monday. I knew she was on a deadline and was happy to accommodate her.

I wanted to make sure I wowed her by thanking her in a way that would make her smile. Unfortunately, with the quick turnaround, there wasn’t much time to get to know her. I did a little bit of stealth research online and then I put in a phone call to the person who referred her to me. I left a voicemail, but didn’t have time to wait for the response. I decided to get some high quality chocolate as a client appreciation gift to go with the hand written thank you note. I delivered the project and the thank you and hoped for the best.

A couple days later, my voicemail was returned. I had asked if she liked sweets and the response I got made my heart sink. The person who referred her to me said she wouldn’t recommend sweets because my new client was a diabetic. Major fail! I followed up with an email to the client apologizing for giving chocolate to a diabetic. Thankfully, she was gracious about it and said she believes in everything in moderation.

Are you happily going along giving client appreciation gifts that your clients don’t appreciate? The situation may be different for you – a box of steaks to a vegetarian, a bottle of wine to an alcoholic, you get the idea. Most people won’t be offended. They have probably received those types of things before. Hopefully they believe that it’s the thought that counts. Although they may be thankful for the gesture, giving the wrong gift will never make the impact you hoped it would.

The only way to avoid this happening to you is to get to know your clients well enough to pick an appropriate gift. There are a few ways you can go about this:

  1. An intake form
  2. Research
  3. Ask them

An intake form is one of the easiest ways to ensure you get the right information every time. You can ask a few key questions that will help you know best how to WOW them. I have an intake form I use with my longer term clients. For this quick project, I didn’t bother. Live and learn!

Researching your clients is another way to get to know them. Check out their social media pages to get a feel for what they are interested in. You can find out a little about their family and friends and what they do in their free time. You can also learn about causes they support and favorite foods. If you have a mutual acquaintance, you can ask them some questions to find out more about them. This method takes a little more work, but one of the advantages is you can surprise and impress them because you took the time to do the research about them. I attempted to do this, but there wasn’t time to get the information I needed.

Asking them is the most direct way to find out about them. Some businesses give a list of gift options and allow clients to choose what they prefer. This works really well for gift cards to restaurants or stores. You can ask them directly or have them pick one as part of a survey or form.

When you do these things you can reward your clients with gifts that are meaningful to them. You can avoid giving chocolate to a diabetic. If you are going to spend the time and invest the money on gift giving, it only makes sense to get it right.

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