Customer experience: creative ways to impress customers

The web continues to radically change the way we shop; at the same time, entrepreneurs are rediscovering the potential of a great customer experience and are constantly looking for solutions that positively impress the customer.

What can explain this trend?

Customer experience as a key to winning the customer

Online store owners need to focus on the unique selling proposition. In other words: why should a customer buy from us if they can find what we sell elsewhere?

There is another differentiator – in addition to product and price – that can make customers prefer us: having an extraordinary customer experience.

Many consumer studies show that a large portion of customers are willing to pay for better service. After all, it’s well known that a positive shopping experience fuels brand loyalty and word of mouth; plus – as Nielsen pointed out – for consumers, personal recommendations are more trusted (and effective) than advertisements.

Can’t you compete on price with the market giants? The best card you can play is a great customer experience.

But how do you deliver that much talked about “great customer experience”? You probably won’t be surprised to learn that it’s all about taking care of your customers, impressing them and convincing them through the buying experience.

Now we look at 6 great ways to leave your customers speechless without spending exorbitant amounts of money.

1. The classic gift

Have you ever read the fascinating study on the “power of mints”? It shows that servers could increase tips by 21% by giving customers two mints. Reciprocity” is a powerful psychological weapon and impressing with a gift is not difficult.

Small gifts to customers (a free comb after a haircut, etc.) are nothing new, so today I thought I’d mention an example of a company that has managed to take it a step further.

One day, the fantastic team at UserTesting.com unexpectedly asked me for my home address. I gave them my address and after about a week, I received a package with delicious dried sausages!

Why dried sausages? UserTesting.com sells… usability testing software, so that’s a little weird, isn’t it?

And what’s weird is that I had mentioned on Twitter the expense of quality sausages to me:

In the post in question, I mentioned the exact type of sausages they sent me! It’s truly amazing that marketing strategist Harvey RaƱola remembered such a detail; it’s a great example of what some companies can do to make customers feel important and create an unforgettable customer experience.

Can’t you afford to give back to customers?

2. A thank you note

With so many options on the market, do you really think it’s too much to ask for a business to say “Thank you!” to a new customer? You may think that thank you cards have lost their impact, being a somewhat old-fashioned and widely used and established custom, but you’re wrong:

Technology has actually made handwritten cards an almost extinct kind of art, with an even greater impact than in the past, especially for a business.

There are so many examples of customers who truly appreciate thank you cards. Grasshopper, a company known for its excellent services, regularly sends out bills to customers and even those who are kind enough to mention the company:

Matt, the recipient of the bill above, sums up the experience perfectly:

Another great example is Jim Shukys Roadside Assistance; the owner regularly sends handwritten bills to new customers.

One such card was posted on Reddit and the feedback was incredible.

With the exception of one:

Well said! So did many other people.

Thank you cards are an integral part of customer service and are used to show gratitude to those who work for your business. In many areas, it’s the service that makes the difference: when the mechanic fixes the car, most of us don’t care about the details, except for the price of course; yet we all pay attention to how we are treated.

Here are some brief tips on how to write the perfect thank you card:

Don’t have enough time to show your interest to customers with a handwritten card? Here are some other ideas for providing a fantastic customer experience.

3. Contacting customers

Perhaps one of the funniest forms of customer service ever is Bark Park Doggie Daycare. The daycare sends regular updates to customers about how their dogs are doing; everything… told from the dog’s perspective!

Even if your business doesn’t lend itself to something this personalized, remember that the potential of email marketing (and tools like Intercom, Campaign Monitor or AWeber) still allows you to set up an email follow-up to see if the customer is satisfied.

This can be especially useful for large or recurring purchases. If, for example, you sell hobby products, it might be useful to contact someone who just bought a set or beginner’s gear to ask how they are doing. You’d certainly appreciate being contacted by a company from which you may have purchased your first set of golf clubs; imagine receiving an automated email after your purchase from Luca or Laura asking how you got into the company and if you’ve ever had the opportunity to go on the golf course. Pretty effective, right? You can dramatically improve the customer experience for the modest cost of a personalized email follow-up.

This method can also be used for birthdays, vacations or other personal events that the customer has notified you about.

Let me give you a simple example: the local jewelry store, of which I am a customer, recently sent a birthday card for my mother (I had just purchased a bracelet to give her, specifying her birthday). Guess where I’ll be shopping the next time I need a watch?

4. Proactive service

So often, companies provide customer service by simply responding to the customer and instead neglecting to seize opportunities.

Companies with legendary customer service, like the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, are proactive, anticipating customer needs:

Do you think such service is impossible to provide online?

The example of Archival Clothing

See the support service Archival Clothing provides to this customer via email:

(see full version)

In a nutshell, a potential customer had added clothing to his shopping cart; however, after seeing the shipping costs (it was international shipping), he left the cart without making the purchase.

Knowing that the shopping cart remained full, the records operator emailed the customer to offer creative solutions on how the company could ship the products to him for a lower amount. The customer eventually completed the purchase and also purchased other items from Archival, and I think the comment he made in the second email speaks for itself:

You don’t have to be an investigator, like the operator in the example above. You just need to slow down the pace a bit when interacting with customers. It’s about prioritizing what’s really bothering the customer, instead of focusing on when tickets are issued. For example, if a customer is having trouble “getting started” (whatever that means for your product) and is stuck at step 3, after solving the problem, ask if you can provide assistance related to step 4.

This form of “social sensitivity,” or understanding of how others feel, can be a great resource for anticipating problems that customers may encounter; it allows you to step in and help the customer before an incident occurs.

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