It’s easy to go that extra mile for customers when you’re just starting your eCommerce journey. A handwritten thank you card here, a personal phone call there. These are fantastic strategies when you only have a handful of customers.
Surprising and delighting customers when you’re shipping hundreds or even thousands of products every day is a little more complicated.
It’s not impossible, however. While most personal touches don’t scale, some do. So, put that pen down, hang up the phone and start implementing these strategies that let you delight hundreds of customers at once.
Make Everything as Personal as Possible
Customers are delighted when you give them more than they bargained for, writes Owl Labs’ Sophia Bernazzani. Personalizing every customer interaction, whether it’s via email or on a webpage, is a great way to do this.
Be careful when it comes to personalization, though, warns Vend’s Francesca Nicasio. Customers are drowning in personalized marketing. That’s because too many companies say they personalize their communications when all they do is customize email subject lines. This ends up being inauthentic.
That doesn’t mean you can’t personalize at scale, however. True personalization requires you to get to know your customers better and deliver marketing messages in a way that really connects with them.
Creating customer personas, mapping the customer journey and doing in-depth customer research are all scalable tactics that can help you get to know your customers better and tailor your communications as a result.
One option is to create a personalized offer for customers after they have made a purchase, says Intercom’s Liam Keegan. The trick is to use your data to create an offer that’s tailored to them for a product you know they like. That way, they’ll be much more inclined to use it.
Don’t do this after every action, however, Keegan warns. You want to make the offer genuine, meaningful and memorable. Use the tactic too much, and it will just seem like another marketing ploy.
Another is to send a gift on your customers’ birthdays, copywriter Lottie Coltman suggests. No one thinks they get too many birthday gifts, so this is an excellent way to delight customers and make their special day a bit more special.
Coltman cites research from Experian that shows birthday emails have close to a 500% higher conversion rate and a click-through rate that’s more than 175% higher than regular emails. Best of all, everything can be automated. It doesn’t matter how many customers you have. It doesn’t take any extra effort to send a personalized birthday discount.
Provide Something Extra With Package Inserts
Packaging inserts are one of the most popular cost-effective ways to delight customers, the team at Floship says. “The right packaging insert will make a customer feel special and important, which in return increases brand loyalty.”
There is no shortage of things you can include in your package. Floship’s team has the following suggestions:
- Discount offers
- Thank you cards
- Review requests
Printed inserts are a great replacement for hand-printed notes, suggests content marketer Pam Neely. These are cost-effective and time-efficient. Brands that want something even more meaningful could include a bookmark or a gift tag.
If you really want to delight customers, why not include an extra product for free? This happened to speaker and author Dan Gingiss’ mother. When she ordered a MagnaPin, a device that attaches decorative pins to clothes without the need for a hole, her package included two pins instead of one. There was also a note which said: “Thank you ever so for your order, however, a lady can’t have just one MagnaPin, so enjoy this additional one on us. Peace and joy, MagnaPin.”
Surprise Customers With Exceptional Service
Customers don’t expect brands to have amazing customer service. That’s why surprising them with an exceptional experience can delight customers and turn them into strong brand advocates, says Visiture’s Ron Dod.
Dod uses Zappos as an example. They surprise customers by having ridiculously fast response times to inquiries. Customers expect long wait times, but Zappos aims to answer most calls within 25 seconds, answer most chats within 30 seconds, and answer emails within an hour.
Sometimes, speed isn’t enough, writes ChartMogul’s Ilia Markov. Really understanding your customers can be more important. Often, this takes more time than a quick reply allows. The result, however, is a happier customer.
That doesn’t necessarily mean a delighted customer, however. “In fact, in many cases, we find that customers score as happy or very happy right before they abandon a brand,” says Markov. “The differentiator usually comes in the form of a brand that goes above and beyond what is expected and steals the customer’s heart (and their wallet along with it) as a result.”
Delighting customers with exceptional customer support is only possible at scale when you empower your customer service team to go the extra mile, says Podia CMO Len Markidan.
All of Zappos 600 customer service employees have the power to do whatever is necessary to make customers happy. This could be free next-day shipping or even something as personal as sending flowers to the customer.
Ritz-Carlton has the same approach. Any of the company’s 35,000 employees can spend up to $2,000 without approval to make sure a single guest is happy.
Trusting your team is the key to delighting customers at scale. “Not only will it help your support agents do their jobs more effectively, but it will avoid the massive compounding inefficiencies that come from a manager having to approve every request for a refund or credit,” Markidan writes.
Use Social Listening to Perform Random Acts of Kindness
Leveraging technology — social media in particular — can be an amazing way to delight hundreds or even thousands of customers at once.
“Here’s the gist of the idea: use one of the social media monitoring tools mentioned above to follow what your customers are tweeting about on a daily basis,” writes Elumynt’s William Harris. “If you see an opportunity to send a special gift to a customer based on something you see in a tweet, go for it!” Don’t worry about coming off as overly watchful. You’re almost bound to get positive engagement, Harris says.
Suja is a great example of this, writes Bonjoro’s Oliver Bridge. Despite the competitiveness of the juice market, Suja has managed to outperform its rivals. One tactic Suja has used is to leverage social listening to find customers who are having a bad day and sending them a juice to make it better.
“Their approach to this was super-ingenious,” says Bridge. “They searched on Instagram for hashtags like #sick #mondayblues #mondays #hungover #butfirstcoffee #isitfridayyet #gradschool #momlife #momprobs #lackofsleep #mood, and sent over 6000 bottles out.”
Another brand doing a great job combining social listening with random acts of kindness is Kleenex, says YapStone Senior Director of Marketing Molly St. Louis. Kleenex will monitor Facebook for people who have recently been ill, then contact their friends to arrange for a surprise “Kleenex Kit” to be delivered to them. All of the recipients posted about their kits, which generated 650,000 impressions and 1,800 interactions on social media.
Find a Way to Scale Tactics That Seem Unscalable
Some of the tactics that smaller eCommerce brands use to delight customers — such as handwriting personal thank you letters — can still be effective for larger brands. You just have to find clever ways to make them scale.
It could be well worth your time to do so, says Inc. contributor Jason Aten. “When you get a note that has been written by hand, it communicates that you were important enough for someone to stop what they were doing, sit down at their desk, take out a pen and paper, and write down something meaningful.”
One way to do this at scale is to be selective about who you send out personalized messages to, writes the team at Liquid Web. Online retailer Chewy.com sends out handwritten thank you notes, but they only send them to first-time customers. A personal connection is formed instantly, but because they only do this for new customers the practice remains manageable.
Another option is to outsource the writing of your thank you notes, Autobooks’ Jordan Skole says. There are several companies that will provide handwritten or digitized thank you notes for just a couple of bucks per message.
You don’t have to let your success get in the way of delighting your customers. Making a great impression got you where you are now. Who knows where delighting customers at scale will take you in the future.