There are two kinds of customer experiences that everyone remembers: positive and negative. When a person experiences sub-par treatment from a company, the encounter will stay with them for the long-term, possibly even affecting their decision to use a brand in the future. They might even tell business partners to steer clear of that certain vendor, hotel or other business.
But when wonderful things happen, these associations are even more powerful. Clients will carry the excitement and positive sentiment of a great interaction with them for years, and in the process, they're likely to build a strong and meaningful relationship with the company that made them feel these things. This is why surprise and delight strategies are so important, and why every organization should incorporate such ideas among their marketing solutions. Leveraging the joy of getting an unexpected reward, a great discount and excellent customer service, businesses can cultivate a client base that's truly engaged and in it for the long haul.
What do customers really want?
Business Review Weekly noted that in a recent study by Citrus and Directivity, researchers found that though loyalty rewards that have a monetary value are very important to consumers, these incentives aren't the only thing they want. While 80 percent of respondents said that financial rewards were the most important factor in a loyalty program, 67 percent asserted that "surprise gifts or surprise rewards that arrive without you making a redemption" would be extremely meaningful for them.
Adam Posner, chief executive at Directivity, noted that these results show that companies have many opportunities to adjust their loyalty rewards programs to incorporate more little, unexpected gestures that inspire people to become fans. Marketers must seize upon the chance to stand out and make a real impression.
"Most loyalty programs are still heavily focused on financial rewards and not enough of the unexpected and surprise element and that seemed to really come up the ranks in terms of what customers out there are looking for from programs," Posner said, the source reported. "Yes, they want their 10 per cent discount and reward for spending but if they really get that surprise factor, that's when they suddenly start connecting with the brand."
According to Brand Connections' blog, surprise and delight strategies can increase the likelihood of loyalty and can even be used to turn a negative situation around. Katherine Krieger, the director of marketing for Brand Connections, told an anecdote about a time when she used these tactics while working a customer service job at Estee Lauder. She explained that she frequently received calls about discontinued products, and while many professionals would simply tell the client that, for example, a particular lipstick shade was no longer available, she took the initiative to send them a surprise. Krieger would make calls to the factory to find any leftover units and send them to the customer's home with a handwritten note. Finding this unexpected gift likely solidified the recipient's loyalty to the company at a moment when they may have been at risk of going elsewhere due to disappointment.
Of course, these tactics work in any sphere. Krieger recommended that brands should get to know their customers and build relationships with other businesses that might be able to help them reach out. For instance, hotels could pair up with companies that sell shampoo and other toiletries to offer samples in each room. Not only will the hotel experience boosted loyalty for unexpectedly providing visitors with something they need, but customers will feel favorably about the brand associated with the product.
Paired with the highly-customized premium loyalty rewards, marketers can use surprise and delight to show clients how much they mean to a business. Some other examples can be simple birthday, anniversary and holiday cards embedded with savings on dining and shopping merchant nearby. These types of gifts are affordable but offer a lot of value to consumers. When customers are shown they are valued in unexpected ways that serve their specific needs, their loyalty can be won.