DON’T you just love a freebie? I know I do.

There are two occasions when I received unexpected freebies. After ordering my usual bagel and coffee at the gym coffee shop, the girl behind the counter offered me a free bottle of mineral water, as part of a promotion the gym was running. I was about to ask for a glass of water anyway, so this came as a welcome surprise.

A few days later I was buying a steak at the meat counter in my local supermarket. I was telling the guy behind the counter that there didn’t seem to be much meat for so much money.

He obviously took pity on me and said: “Tell you what, sir, why don’t you have this other steak for the same price?” and he slapped another one on top!

So what is the customer service lesson here? The lesson is that most customers love a freebie and if they receive one from a supplier, it builds a positive relationship.

Customers are more likely to return and do business with people who give them freebies, and they are more likely to tell others about their positive experience.

I once read an article about a restaurant owner who would occasionally give people a free meal. When a group of diners or a family asked for the bill, he would spontaneously announce that on this occasion they were his guests and did not have to pay for their meal.

Can you imagine how these people felt? And what they said to friends and work colleagues the next day? That free meal probably cost the restaurant owner a lot less than advertising in the local newspaper, and it also brought in a lot more new customers.

The Law of Reciprocity states: “If you give someone something, or do something for them, they will want to repay you — to give you something.”

Why don’t you offer customers or clients a little unexpected freebie that will encourage them to return and also to have them share with others about their positive experience? It doesn’t have to be tangible — you can offer a part of your service for free or even some professional advice.

While you are at it, why don’t you do the same with members of your staff or one of your colleagues? Even in your personal relationships, a small, unexpected gift or an act of kindness can do wonders to foster further closeness.

Believe me, once you start to do this, you will have many more satisfied customers, happier staff and appreciative friends.