3 Things I Did To “Surprise and Delight” My Way to 15,000 Customers

by: Sam Feldman, Founder, CardBuddy



I fell in love with entrepreneurship soon after arriving at college, and made it my goal to run a business full-time upon graduating. I went 2 years without any paying customers, but during my junior year I started CardBuddy, a stick-on phone wallet company that now does over $100K annual revenue (and have been running it full-time since graduating last May).

I have some unique customer service strategies which have brought me great results, and I thought I’d share them here!


As proof of my customer service, I measured how often my customers mention “service” in their Amazon reviews compared to my competitors’ customers. As the below chart shows, my customers mentioned “service” in their reviews about 20x more often that my competitors’ customers. Here’s the actual reviews that mention “service.”



1. $1 bill in random orders

I include a hidden $1 bill once in every 5 orders. At a cost of $0.20 per order, this has been a much better investment than extra Amazon PPC budget. Over the years, several customers have contacted me to say how much they appreciated the hidden dollar!


2. Hand-signing thank you cards

For nearly 2 years after starting the business, I hand-signed a thank-you card in every order. Eventually after 12,000 orders, the time commitment became too much and I began printing my signature. However, I’ve heard from several customers who really appreciated the gesture. Here’s a time-lapse of me signing 1000 cards that I made a while back.

3. Focus on people, not policies

I’ll tell 2 quick stories. (1) A customer was extremely upset about her silicone card holder ripping on the side. Because she had such a bad experience, I sent her 10 card holders for free, including 5 of the more durable leather stick on wallets that I sell. It was certainly a risk, but the hope is that she’ll have a story to tell for years about my business. (2) More recently, a customer reached out because her silicone card holder also ripped along the side. Even though the 100 day satisfaction guarantee deadline had already passed, I sent 2 replacements and she was incredibly happy. Here’s the full email chain.


Many people think that the main objective of customer service is getting your customers to love you more. While this does happen, I think a better incentive is getting you to love your customers more. When you go above and beyond for customers, you have delightfully genuine interactions with them. This leads you to have more empathy for your customers, which allows you to not only serve them better, but also be more motivated to do so. With so many companies claiming to “care” nowadays, it goes a long way if you genuinely do.

I think this line from Without Their Permission put it best:

“A chance to surprise and delight someone by doing something a little exceptional…provides a smack of awesome humanity upside the head.”
– Alexis Ohanian

I read this during my sophomore year, and it has had a huge impact on my customer service strategies.


I graduated from University of Maryland in May ’16 and have been running my business full-time ever since. Right now I’m making about $15K personal salary, but the freedom and excitement that has come with running the business full-time has been well worth it.

My goal during the past year has been to do things that I find scary or uncomfortable. I took improv classes (highly recommend!), started running several times per week, and went to Bali for a month to live with entrepreneurs. I’m from Maryland, and after being interested in moving to California for a while, I finally took steps to move this year. I took a 4-week road trip across the US & arrived in LA last month!

And last week, I launched a Chrome extension that solves a problem I ran into while selling on Amazon. Previously, whenever one of my customers would leave a negative review, I would be unable to reach out (to offer a refund or a replacement unit). My new chrome extension, ReviewMatch, makes that possible! If you or anyone you know is an Amazon seller, it would be awesome if you can help spread the word!


If you liked the article, feel free to share it! And please comment with any thoughts, questions, or customer service strategies of your own.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn. Read the original and share it here.

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One thought on “3 Things I Did To “Surprise and Delight” My Way to 15,000 Customers

  1. Anonymous says:

    Kudos to you, Sam. You continue to make all of us here at UM proud!

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