Marketing Strategy

Surprise and delight

Keeping things fresh is a sure-fire way to both win customers and retain them in the long term. But (you knew there would be a ‘but’)…

Retaining customers is, in my opinion, a matter of keeping it all fresh. Of wheeling out a few surprises here, a couple of delights there.

Of course, you’ve had to surprise or delight to get the customer to you in the first place. Maybe you’ve run a natty ad campaign, carried out some clever marketing, beaten the competition over price point without sacrificing quality. Your product or service experience has been great where the customer only expected ‘OK’. You’ve pleased the customer more than they thought. They’re surprised, and maybe a little delighted as well.

But, after a few surprises and a couple of delights, the bar starts to raise. The customer expects the same level of surprise and/or delight every time. What was once exceptional is now ordinary.

Where they were once impressed that your company phoned back when they said they would, when they were once delighted that a ‘cut price’ version of their favourite brand was actually better, after a few interactions, these things become expected. And you start to be judged not on what you do, but on what you don’t do or the time that you’re ten minutes late with the phone call.

Familiarity breeds contempt and all that.

Of course, it’s not possible to continually surprise and delight your customer – they’d be exhausted and you’d fall into exactly the same cycle as before (only it would be more expensive).

So you need to work out a way of making your customers’ experience that little bit better. And my advice, be surprising.

Many supermarkets offer reward points (or similar schemes). As a consumer, I now expect this. I expect the coupons to come through my door every quarter. I wouldn’t, however, be expecting to get a little bonus every now and again, just for being a customer. It wouldn’t have to be much – a small money off voucher here, a customer-only music video download there, something along those lines.

The equivalent of a quick hug from your nearest and dearest for no reason at all, other than the fact that you happened to be standing there.

This sort of surprise would make me feel special. It would, therefore, delight.

That would make me a happy customer. Who’d probably go to the store and buy more. Who’d probably tell my friends about it. Who might even Tweet and blog about it because, let’s face it, if the reward just appears to have come out of the blue with no time scheduled reason, no specific purchase link, just a reward for being a customer, I’m going to feel pretty damn special and want to tell people about it.

And all of this would make me more loyal. Because I would feel that the product, brand, retailer, agency etc loved me and valued me. That I wasn’t just a cog in their machine. That I was important to them.

That’s the key to customer loyalty and retention, at least in my book. So surprise your customers, delight them occasionally and see what this does for your long term brand value and bottom line…


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