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13 ways to surprise and delight clients

 Are you trapped in the merry-go-round of having to attract new clients because old clients move on too fast? 

Are you focusing on your top-of-funnel while leaving your paying clients neglected? 

Do you find it easier to get clients than keep them? 

If so, you have failed to surprise and delight clients. It’s a common mistake. Focusing on new business while neglecting your paying clients. 

Your biggest source of income is not new business. It’s your current, paying clients. 

The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. (Source: Forbes via Marketing Metrics)

So are you ready to surprise and delight your customers?

How can you go beyond expectations, so that your clients are thrilled to be working with you? There’s one core element common to every surprise and delight success. 

Listening.

By listening to your clients you are in a much better position to succeed in your surprise and delight efforts. (Conversely, if you make incorrect assumptions, you’re liable to stumble in your well-intentioned efforts). 

Try these 13 ways to surprise and delight your clients to turn them into raving fans. What’s the common element of them all? Listening. It’s the core of any great relationship. 

1.Random acts of kindness 

This is the surprise part of ‘surprise and delight.’ It’s a gift or value-add created for no reason whatsoever. These are the easiest to let slide, because you can’t plan for them. It doesn’t need to be an expensive, flashy gesture.

Try these ideas:

  • pick up the wine at a dinner they’re attending
  • send them a guidebook about a city they’re soon to visit 
  • support their charity fundraisers 
  • send a pet hamper for their new puppy or kitten (or ferret) 

We send selected clients an artful poster for their office wall. Which is a lovely gift, but also helps keep us top of mind. Every time they glance at it, they remember us (we hope). Added, unintended bonus: it appears in the backgrounds of Zoom calls. 

2. Recognise anniversaries 

How do the loyal fans of Foxtel feel when they see discount offers for new customers only? Annoyed. 

See the fine print on this special offer? New customers only. 

How about the Foxtel customers who’ve been watching for years, or decades? They are not happy and rightly so. 

Meanwhile, NRMA (and other insurance companies) reward long-term loyalty with premium discounts.

At Business By Design, we offer a value-add evaluation session. We track the goals set at the onset of our coaching program. We assess if (and how) those goals were achieved. Then, we identify new tactics for the next year of working together. 

Clients who stick around deserve to be rewarded for their loyalty. 

3. Celebrate their wins

Be your clients’ personal cheerleader. Comment on and share their social media posts. (This boosts their visibility, by giving them access to your network).  

Everyone loves acclaim. Of course, if you can share case studies, testimonials and success stories, you have a chance to showcase your success, while giving your clients a shoutout too. 

Sister Scout Studio, a Melbourne photography studio, profiles many of its clients on its blog. 

By making the clients the star of the content, it gives them valuable kudos. Also, it showcases the exact kind of ideal clients it works with. (In this case, female entrepreneurs.)

4. Onboarding clients 

After a client says ‘yes’ you’re actually in a vulnerable position. Immediately, they start looking for proof that they’ve made the right decision. So you want to onboard them in a positive way that reinforces the message that choosing to work with you was a great decision. 

If possible, find a quick win, that shows value from the onset. Plus, consider a welcome gift or onboarding session that reminds clients why they chose you in the first place. 

We want to start gaining trust and build a relationship as soon as we’ve been appointed. So, clients who sign up for our Tradie Toolbox workshops get a welcome gift pack with branded merch, to thank them for choosing us.

Plus, we offer an ironclad promise for new coaching clients. We guarantee that we will find their first year’s fee within the first 90 days. So they get a return on their investment immediately. That way they can stop worrying about costs, because we’ve already paid for ourselves within the first 90 days of working together. 

5. Listen and learn

As we mentioned earlier, listening is the core of your surprise and delight success. So it’s your business to know your clients’ favourite football team, whisky or fashion label. 

Can you surprise a client with tickets to their favourite musical, limited edition fragrance or print from their favourite artist? 

Of course, you don’t have to use your knowledge just for gift-giving. Just referencing your insights and showing that you hear your clients is often enough. 

Send them links to news items about their favourite thought leader. Read their favourite books. The better you understand them, the better you can surprise and delight clients.

6. Holiday gifts

During the season of giving, thank your customers and clients with an end-of-year gesture. It doesn’t have to be Christmas. Perhaps Halloween, National Donut Day or Valentine’s is the logical day for your business to lavish gifts on your clients and customers. 

It’s useful to choose a gift that reflects your brand values. Or even better, shows off your skills. 


Melbourne graphic designer Fiona Brand of Brand By Name does this well. Each year, she shows off her design skills with a clever gift she designs and prints. She’s distributed tea towels, custom wrapping paper and coasters imprinted with cocktail recipes. Not only do the clients appreciate the lovely gifts, they get a sense of her design and print management capability.

7. Referrals 

If you’re in the B2B space, you can support your clients with a strong referral. Of course, your integrity matters here. Never refer anyone you don’t 90% trust to get the job done, or you’ll be tainted by association. 

By showcasing your clients on your socials, you indirectly create referral opportunities for them. Additionally, if you have (or establish) a trusted reputation for introducing like-minded collaborators, you’ll become a worthy partner who makes helpful introductions. Word-of-mouth referrals remain the most powerful driver of business for many. So if you can facilitate juicy leads for your clients, you make them lifelong fans. 
Kate Toon, founder of the Clever Copywriting School does this well. As a copywriting coach herself, she passes leads on to members of her community via her free job board. It’s a value-add for her members that has them singing her praises.

8. Value-adds 

Who doesn’t love a freebie? From time to time, throw in an extra at no free charge. 

We know a security company who regularly upgrades the security equipment they install, without passing on the cost to the clients. 

Ecommerce retailer Adore Beauty does this well, with bundles of samples from leading beauty brands as well as a Tim Tam as an extra gift for each customer. The beauty of this strategy to surprise and delight clients is that it leads to user-generated content on key social channels. As customers appreciate the freebies, they are encouraged to post unboxing videos and posts, using the hashtag #adorebeautyhaul. 

As an advisor, or consultant, your best value-add is your time. Can you offer a free consult or advice session that non-clients would otherwise pay for? 

Of course, you don’t want clients expecting endless access to free consultations, so it’s important to communicate effectively to ensure clients aren’t tempted to take advantage. Setting strong boundaries from the onset is the best approach. 

9. Hand-written note 

A hand-written note reminds customers that the faceless brand they purchased from has real people behind it. Smaller ecommerce brands can compete strongly here, as larger brands don’t have the bandwidth to write hand-written notes to customers—but you do. 

Even service-based businesses can get in on the game with a heartfelt note of thanks, congratulation or invitation sent the old-school way—via post. The cost per customer is extremely low (just paper, envelope and stamps) but the impact is high. 

10. Make them exclusive VIPs

If you were a nightclub, your top clients or customers are the ones who cut in line and get ushered straight to the exclusive private section. Do you know who these clients or customers are? It’s important they know they’re your VIPs. 

As such, they must find out everything first. So, you’ll be emailing them updates before sharing news on social media. You can give them advance pre-sale access and early bird exclusives for your next launch. Give them exclusive value adds at events, such as front-row seats or a 10-minute meet and greet with speakers. 

You can create an exclusive group of your VIPs with a private mailing list, Facebook group or mastermind. 

11. Show them you are thinking of them 

Never miss an opportunity to show them you’ve been listening, especially to their pain points. 

If you spot a workshop, news item or webinar that may interest them, share away. 

You should be regularly sharing insights, knowledge and saw-this-thought-of-you links to resources, interesting articles or must-listen podcasts. 

Check-in after their big presentation. Send a birthday note or card. Wish them well for their skiing trip. It starts with listening, and then follows with action. 

12. Give them access to senior leadership or specialists 

In the service space, some membership programs or services leave you with account managers (which is fine for day-to-day client transactions). But, it’s important that your senior leaders or strategic consultants are on hand to check in too. No client wants to see the MD at the pitch, then never hear from then again. Checking in regularly with a quick call, lunch or insight session can be invaluable. 

Do you have in-house specialists for clients to access? Perhaps your Google Ads guru can jump on for a quick audit or your HR expert can deal with a tricky staff conundrum. 

However you choose, giving clients access to all your internal expertise (when needed) can win their lifelong loyalty. 

13. Seek feedback


As we’ve said, the surprise and delight approach is based on listening. The ultimate way to listen making it easy for clients to give feedback. 

Do you canvass clients to determine what’s working and what isn’t? Your clients are goldmines of precious information, and it’s your job to grab that gold. Perhaps you think things are going swimmingly. But what if your client has other ideas? A surprise loss of a client means it’s too late to get things back on track. Better to find out sooner if there’s any potential issues to be rectified. 

People love to share their opinion. Sure, it’s not as sexy or exciting as fancy gifts or heartfelt as a hand-written note. But giving clients the chance to feel heard by asking their opinion is a sure-fire way to understand their perspective on your service. 

We hope you’re inspired to surprise and delight clients more often.

Want more advice from our expert team? You might like: 

Looking for bespoke advice on retaining more clients to grow your business? 

We have a variety of business coaching platforms to take your business to the next level. 

Contact the team at Business By Design today on 02 6658 0775.

Phone (02) 6658 0775