Why now is the time for your small business to give back to its customers


Sometimes I daydream of a world where my company’s products line grocery store shelves nationwide. Where there’s a simple transactional purchase. Customers need our product and we’re a well-known brand, so they pick us up, put us in their trolley and go off on their merry way. I think I’m daydreaming of owning Snickers…alas, my dog food company doesn’t have that luxury.

Scratch provides dog food for over 30,000 dogs around the country. We sell online on subscription. Like most direct-to-consumer brands and the nearly 2.6 million Australian small businesses, we rely on relationships with our customers to keep us growing.

We’re not a commodity or a quick, thought-free purchase. We’re a considered purchase, something customers go out of their way to buy, take time to recommend, subscribe to and click on amongst the constant influx of emails.

Any lasting relationship needs to deliver value. With customer purchasing habits changing left, right and centre due to the economic climate right now is the perfect time to look at giving back to customers to keep them feeling favourable towards your small business.

Giving back comes in many forms. The most common way is to offer financial support through discounts or loyalty programs, but discounting in the now can rob from your future, so tread carefully. Besides, giving financial value is more about you trying to boost sales than the customer (though I love a bargain as much as the next guy).

It’s the unexpected value that we build into Scratch and continually improve on that keeps our customers loyal. Great customer experience doesn’t require a big budget and often not much more than thoughtful, caring people with the ability to get things done. Just before Christmas, we turned some dog illustrations we’d commissioned throughout the year into a free downloadable colouring book for parents to share with their kids over the holidays. Our traffic spiked when it usually bottoms out.

More recently our customer care team designed our own cards to write personalised notes in the sad event that a customer’s dog passes. We’ve given many others some free treats or merch too, looking for little moments to engage and give back when they’ve said something nice, shared a great photo that we liked (looking at cute dog photos is part of the job, someone’s gotta do it) or been through a tricky situation.

If you’re looking to give back to your customers and give them an amazing customer experience but not sure where to start, challenge your customer service to share some insights about what customers go through with the rest of the company. Give them the opportunity to come up with some ideas to give back. Pair them with a copywriter and/or designer to bring the ideas to life.

Often, it’s the small, thoughtful things that customers really appreciate. Enough of them and you’ll sit top of their minds whenever the idea to purchase what you can help with appears.