We’ve all been there: Given a gift, the recipient couldn’t give a fig for.
Even the most gift-savvy person among us can quickly get it wrong.
Have you ever sent a gift in good faith, only to discover later that it was meaningless? Inappropriate? Offensive? Or dangerous?
A quick poll about the worst gifts ever sent or received, posed to the gurus-of-gifting here at the virtual EvaBot office saw a slew of embarrassing gift stories come to light:
- The bottle of Scotch that was sent to curry favor for a potential new client who, it turns out, was in their 1st year of working a 12-step sobriety program. (The sender never got any business from the client and didn’t know about his gaffe until months later, via a mutual acquaintance).
- A bottle of wine to a devout Mormon. (NB: When giving booze, check whether the recipient imbibes or not).
- Sugar-filled candies to a person with diabetes.
- Swag that was accepted with a big smile and effusive thanks, only for it to be seen in a trash can an hour later.
- Flowers and scented products sent to people with allergies.
- Tickets to a sports game for an opera buff.
- Food gifts containing products that violate a person’s religious beliefs. (That bacon-studded artisan chocolate felt like a good idea at the time).
- Leather-bound stationery to a vegan.
Some people have a re-gifting cupboard. All their unwanted gifts are passed along to the next person – who may or may not want them. Spare a thought for the person who received an expensive box of unwanted beauty products from a friend and colleague. She dutifully reacted with “joy” for the gift, then took it home and promptly popped it inside her gifting cupboard. Two months later, she went to an office birthday party. Casting around for an appropriate gift, she spied the unwanted beauty products and thought they would be the perfect present. Imagine her surprise when the recipient exclaimed, “How lovely! You got me exactly what I got you!” (Awkward.)
Sure, unwanted gifts can easily be re-gifted without being problematic. So many many of us do it with gifts we’ve received that we don’t care for, need, or are allergic to, but what wasted opportunities. Most people never let the gift-giver know that their gift was a bust. And why not? Because it’s impolite. We don’t want to appear rude or ungrateful.
The irony is that we often send gifts to “grease the wheels” of business relationships, but when they aren’t wanted, it makes for a rickety journey with dodgy results.
There is nothing like giving and receiving a gift that delights! And how do you know what will please a person? You need to know the person.
The 2022 Harvard Business Review Research Report: Making Customer Experience the Heart of the Enterprise revealed some stats that are no surprise:
- 88% of respondents say it is essential to the future success of their business to have a complete and consistent view of their customers across all channels and platforms.
- 68% expect to incorporate artificial intelligence into their customer experience within the next two years.
- 55% strongly agree that providing a great customer experience is impossible without a great employee experience
While 31% of respondents say they currently have a single, 360-degree view of customer data, half of them say they lack the organizational structure to use those insights.
A great CX is built on insight and engagement: Knowing who customers are, how they behave, what they want, and why they want it is critical to providing an experience that is useful, usable, and enjoyable.
The Top Dos & Don’ts of Corporate/Customer Gifting:
- Do brand your boxes. Be remembered for the right reasons.
- Do be specific. Don’t be random.
- Do take care of them. Don’t leave them hanging. (People who feel cared for tend to stick around).
- Do use AI to help you be human. Don’t use AI to fake it.
- Do help them choose. Don’t be generic.
- Do surprise them. Don’t be predictable.
- Do get to know them. Don’t pretend that you do.
- Do be this gifter: Thoughtful and caring.
- Don’t be that gifter: The one who throws mud, hoping something will stick.
- Don’t do swag for swag’s sake:
Except for elite luxury brands, nobody wants your swag. Sure, they might use it, but they don’t want stuff with your company name or logo all over it. Maybe that koozie, squeezy stress ball, or nifty little charger will be used, but for how long? And who cares? You can also bet they’ll toss them away without a second’s thought. Please give them a gift with your name/logo branded on the box, not the gift itself. It makes it feel more genuine. It won’t be forgotten. It will be appreciated.
- Unless it’s done right, swag is terrible for business, the planet, and your budget.
It all comes down to knowledge. Now, by using AI, you can expedite and forge great relationships on an unprecedented scale. Happy gifting and getting to know them – getting to really know them.
P.S. A great big case of gifts going horribly, horribly wrong: