The world has come to a virtual standstill and the impact of an impending recession is going to be far-reaching. Given the looming economic downturn, a compelling lesson to learn is that excellent customer service is critical to your success and can greatly impact your bottom line. In order to be relevant in such uncertain times, the ability to surprise and delight your customers is a great way to increase customer loyalty, drive referrals and repeat business. Surprise and delight is a strategy of going the extra mile and exceeding customer expectations. Customers will show their appreciation by sharing what they received by the brand in their various social media channels. According to reports, almost 61% of customers share their experiences with friends and family, so it does make sense that the word-of-mouth is positive. TOMS footwear and Zappos are on top of this game and are taking wowing customers to the next level. Both continue to surprise and delight their customers through personal and emotional connections. People actually call Zappos customer service line to hear the company’s joke of the day and their customer loyalty agents have no script. How cool is that?
There’s immense uncertainty, risk and complexity that cloud the business ecosystem today and maintaining a strong customer-centric focus is critical to your success. This means fostering delight and trust because customers have specialized needs and preferences now and satisfaction is not enough anymore, companies need more focus and consistency in exceeding their highest expectations.
The writing on the wall is clear, hence it’s important to keep customers at the center of strategic decision making and use customer insights to define the measures you should take in such uncertain times. Here’s how you can make customers keep coming back for more by eliciting surprise and delight:
- Video email responses – It’s important to be visible and on the radar of your customers, especially during a downturn. Sending canned email responses is very “transactional” and does little to engage and retain your customers. Personalizing your customer service is the new age thing. One of the surprise and delight ideas for customers is to create personalized video response emails. According to reports, if an email carries video in the subject line, the open rates boost by nearly 20%, click-through rates increase by 65% and unsubscribes are reduced by over 25%. Some interesting ways to incorporate videos in emails are video testimonials of your existing customers, appreciation or thank you videos and customer support videos. Video testimonials with existing customers is an engaging way to have them share their positive experience with your company and give new prospects a credible review from a source they relate to the most. A thank you video email is a much better way to make an impact than a cookie-cutter note. Personalize it further by including the person’s name. A screencast video explaining your products and brand, answering specific customer questions and featuring how-to videos is an effective way to deepen your relationship with loyal customers and ease the onboarding of new ones. Refinery29, a lifestyle brand has nailed the video+email tactic.
- Sending anniversary or birthday emails – Here’s your biggest opportunity to make an impression and stand out. There’s never been a better time to get personal. Send out a birthday or anniversary email message with an e-gift attached or a discount code for a future purchase. A thoughtful message wishing them on their special day makes all the difference. To earn a birthday gift from Sephora, customers are encouraged to sign up for the Beauty Insider program. In 2020, all program members can choose between three birthday gift sets which include make-up, body and hair care and Rouge and VIP members have access to a fourth gift option.
- Donate to a cause in your customer’s name – Level up your customer service and donate some amount in each customer’s honor to a charity that resonates with their values and vision and is relevant to your niche. Once you have done this, send out a personalized email intimating them that you donated to that charity in their name with proof. Help Scout which is a provider of help desk software, plants a tree through the Nature Conservatory for every new customer.
- Provide omni-channel customer service – Engage and delight your customers by offering consistent, personalized experiences across multiple channels. Marketing Week states that today’s customers use close to six touchpoints when they are buying an item. Having an omni channel customer service reduces the average response time, extracts useful insights about customer profile and gains high first contact resolution rate. Make sure your services are consistent across your website, Facebook Messenger, live chat, email, mobile apps and the like. Bank of America is one of the biggest brands that provides consistent omni-channel service to its customers. Company’s mobile and desktop apps handle everything from scheduling an appointment to depositing checks.
- Use spot rewards – If you have a loyalty program, then surprise your most valuable customers with a free gift with purchase, additional points, or a 30 day extension of expired rewards. In difficult economic times, these small gestures show customers that you care about their business and you are doing everything possible to ease the economic burdens they are facing. This establishes a lot of positive customer sentiment and trust which they will likely share across social media and keep them loyal to your brand.