CX Basics series – Thankyou!
Thank You | Sorry | Hello Again
The words ‘thank you’ have pretty much disappeared from the customer experience.
It’s a real rarity to find a brand that conveys authentic thankfulness after a transaction has taken place. When was the last time you felt genuinely thanked when leaving a restaurant? Whether it’s the hollow email from a donotreply address, or empty rhetoric from the in-store staff on departure, it’s hard for consumers to identify as anything more than big data to big brother at times.
The trust between the customer and big corporates is still dwindling according to extensive market research across various industries and sectors. A Trinity Mirror study last year found that almost half of consumers (42%) distrust brands and 69% distrust advertising. I think true consumer appreciation from the brand is a factor. To tackle this, I would argue that those responsible for delivering the customer experience have to be taught two things:
1) See every customer through the wider lens of the brand purpose and what it is trying to deliver.
2) Allow the above point to hit home how important and individual each customer is, rather than seeing them as part of a process. It is this sense of purpose that shapes how you convey real thankfulness.
How a brand acknowledges custom determines the levels of advocacy across the customer base. We can’t be too ‘British’ about this, the stiff upper lip does very little for customer loyalty. There is no doubt that over recent years the average service in restaurants, cafes and stores has improved. However, to inspire advocacy, it’s the little touches than become the game changers. This is where many brands fail.
It’s about the surprise moments, the service-connection, the personalisation, the human-to-humanness of it all. It’s communicating the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ and not just simply processing customers in ways that suit the brand. It’s the magic that leaves the customer with a desire to speak well of the experience they’ve had and therefore becoming an extended, organic part of the PR strategy. Innocent, the smoothie maker, are masters of creating a community of followers who are passionate advocates for the brand because of the sheer humanness of their communications. The retailer Lush is another.
A brand that is leading the way on this tricky issue is Naked Wines. Connecting customers to the winemaker in a way that leaves both parties thankful and respectful, the team at Naked Wines often place the thank you message across the bottle labels. For the customer, it doesn’t just feel like a drop of vino, but a personal gift bottled by someone who is no longer a stranger. From the very label you have the winemaker’s name, story and heartfelt thanks… It’s more than just alcohol, it’s appreciation.
Not too much though…
Now, there is a flip side to this coin of thankfulness. If a staff member’s empathy gets the better of them, and they decide to hold a ten minute conversation with a customer who subsequently ends up causing a huge queue, this too is a problem. Brand loyalty has a utilitarian structure, so to piss off the majority to connect with one isn’t great business sense.
This doesn’t mean that brands can’t embed and prioritise genuine thankful gestures across the customer experience touchpoints though. It just means that a bigger perspective is needed by those engaging with the customer. One brand that understands this is Pret a Manger. No matter how busy they are, the staff all seem to have the time for a genuine smile, hello and thank you, but they are super-efficient in managing the queues also.