CX Basics series – Hello again!
The Smith+Co CX Basics Series Part three – Hello Again
Repeat custom is the name of the game for leading brands. In an age where the Tweet is mightier than the sword, creating brand advocates is a serious issue and one that brands go to great lengths to achieve through expensive loyalty schemes and the like. But most of these miss the point, it is being remembered that we crave, not being incentivised.
As a consumer, I am often left surprised by a negative part of the customer experience that is either devoid of thought, or over emphasised and trite. These nasty surprises seem a lot worse when it’s a brand that I’m loyal to. Instead of a ‘Hello again, great to see you” it can feel like being a repeat customer is often more isolating than being a new customer.
Let me give you a personal example; some years ago my wife and I stayed at a small, boutique hotel. It was very cool and had a guest list drawn from the world of fashion. However, at the time we were there very few rooms were occupied and there were just a handful of other guests. You would have thought then, we would have received very individual service. Not a bit of it. For the duration of the stay we were asked our name and room number every time we checked in for breakfast and there was no acknowledgement we had been before. Now you might make the excellent point that I am neither famous nor particularly memorable, and this is true, but I would argue that remembering someone or simply saying ‘Hello again’ doesn’t take much effort but makes a huge difference. The problem was the staff felt themselves ‘too cool’ to bother.
Brands seem to be gathering lots of information without imagination. And without the human spark, it is impossible to create a memorable and differentiated customer experience. And if making repeat customers feel special isn’t a priority, there’s a problem.
Let’s face facts, we’re living in an age where companies have more data about us, the customer, than ever before. They know our purchasing trends and our demographics and, if they are good, they shape their sales approach accordingly and so we don’t mind.. According to David Mattin, Head of Global Trends and Insights at Trendwatching, there are two major societal trends shaping our lives at the moment; Humanisation and Automation. The first is about our desire for experiences rather than things, enjoying personal touches, understanding the purpose and meaning behind products and to be treated as an individual. This has given birth to brands like Airbnb, CitizenM, craft gins and so on. The second is our desire for things to be simpler, faster, and easier. MetroBank, Uber and Google are all capitalising on this trend. Of course, the very best brands do both; Amazon’s Alexa is a perfect example of humanisation and automation coming together in one neat product.
When it comes to using data, my local pub could teach the big corporates a thing or two. I’m an ale drinker, I like something smooth, not too lively, and not too pale. The staff at my local pub know this. What makes the experience stand out is two fold:
- They welcome my repeat custom sincerely.
- They suggest any new product that they feel would suit my preference.
How simple is that? Using the information they have on my purchasing behaviour, they take the initiative and create a moment that delivers every time. And it all starts with two simple words “Hello again”. Why doesn’t my bank provide the same experience? Or my mobile phone provider? Or my travel agent? Despite my repeat custom, it often feels like I’m a stranger walking into battle with a used car salesman. I’m convinced that some brands see repeat customers as a prime opportunity to push the entire catalogue in a desperate attempt to rinse my wallet.
This is the exact opposite to what should be happening. A familiar face should be treated with immense respect when it comes to the customer experience. Core customers are the game changers and can make or break a brand with their purchasing habits. Welcoming their repeat purchase sincerely, and offering expert product insight is all you have to do. Anything less and it feels cold. Anything more and it feels intrusive.