Today is your friend's birthday, and you forgot. She lives about three hours away, so you quickly go online to see if you can have flowers delivered the same day. What you find is that most of the flower retailers have same-day delivery, but it costs more than the flowers themselves. But instead of giving up, you remember that there are beautiful flower arrangements at the grocery store and that many grocers have delivery within two hours. You place an order, and not only are they delivered within two hours, but the driver called to ask you what you would like written on the card. The day is saved, and you will forever think twice about paying mainstream florists for flower delivery since you were able to meet your needs more seamlessly elsewhere.
The world that businesses compete in today is no longer industry vs. industry or product vs. product. Instead, organizations that are paying attention to crucial changes in the way consumers behave know that competition is based on the experience you can provide, regardless of what you are selling. Companies that incorporate and engage consumers in a way that goes beyond the primary offering can see dramatic shifts in customer loyalty and advocacy. In small ways and large, it's the thoughtful gestures that show your customers that your business is, most importantly, about them.
Here are five actionable ways to show your customers that it really is all about them.
1. Speak specifically to your customers.
Malicious Woman Candle Company understood that their customers often shopped with their significant others and wanted to be able to browse without time constraints, so they created an in-store husband daycare. A small part of their store that was gated off for a spouse to sit down, have a snack, and comfortably wait for their significant other to shop. With a TV, Playstation, phone charges, puzzles and snacks, customers are encouraged to drop off all bored significant others after they hear "ugh, do you really need more candles?"
In addition to being a playful concept and utilizing signage to entice consumers to come inside the store, the gesture also aligned well with the cheeky voice of the brand (you can shop from the Feminist AF collection and the F-Bomb collection) and helps to create an in-store experience that is consistent with their online experience and speaks right to their target market.
2. Show that you respect your customers time.
A free, made-to-order breakfast sounds like an easy sell. Who can resist starting the day with a meal of their choice for a price tag that can't be beat? You plan your day, wake up and head downstairs to.....lines out the door and nowhere to sit. What was meant to be a positive experience can quickly turn negative when expectations aren't met.
For the Embassy Suites, free breakfast is a part of the brand, and it's a perk their customers not only look forward to but plan on. To show respect for their customers time and help to manage expectations, they created a clever breakfast traffic flow that they post around the property. The traffic flow gives guests an easy guide on timing and an idea of the experience at different times throughout the morning.
Seemingly small, but thoughtful gestures like this helps guests understand what to expect before they arrive in the morning and creates a positive touchpoint that communicates an understanding of what makes guests loyal.
3. Communicate a sense of purpose.
Countless studies show that customers want to be connected to a greater sense of purpose and not just a transaction. Think of your own experiences and the brands that you relate to. Brands that create advocates are those who align with their customer values and live out that purpose. In the case of the Coast Soccer League, they don't want only to create a moment; they want their customers to be part of a movement.
Utilizing signage prominently displayed on the fields during games, they use the opportunity to communicate with their customers that everyone is there for a love of the game and to create a positive, and safe environment for the players. Creating that higher sense of purpose and a shared understanding sets the tone for not only what the expected experience should be, but why it's essential to come together in that way. "No victory without honor" is a life lesson that everyone can get on board with.
4. Foster a community.
A sense of community and belonging is at the center of the Vineyard Vines retail experience. When you walk into one of their stores, you immediately notice a line of a few hundred men's ties hanging from the ceiling. Each tie has a message written across from one of the first 200 customers in that location, and they stay displayed in the store permanently. That visual serves as a strong message that the Vineyard Vines experience is all about the customer.
Throughout the store and specifically at the check out counter, you will also notice hundreds of logo stickers in different patterns featuring their signature whale logo. A customer signs each sticker, and visitors are encouraged not only to participate by signing a sticker in the store but also to collect the stickers and show Vineyard Vines pride in their everyday life.
As you glance around at all of the different patterns, you can see how the brand utilizes the designs to give the customer a personalized voice and connection. Some stickers have patriotic patterns, sports themes, and even political themes. How could you not want to be a part of a group that is referred to as the "Good Life" community?
5. Practice customer recognition.
Often, it's the little things that can make a significant impact. For Starbucks, their business model is reliant on loyal customers who come back again and again. This sets the perfect scene for a customer recognition strategy.
A simple chalkboard sign with acknowledgment of the customer's name and their specific drink created a memorable moment that not only shows gratitude but also offers a shareable story and picture for the customer to repeat to friends.
If you have even one customer, recognition and consistent engagement should always be part of your plan. How can you implement one or more of these thoughtful, yet simple examples into your own engagement strategy?