Vital strategies to delight your customers (and retain them)

Tom Downing, strategy director at Freestyle, discusses how you can win customers and keep them coming back for more.

balloons with smiley faces on them

Build something, and they will come!

As much as we all want this to be true, it certainly isn’t, particularly in today’s era of consumer behaviour. The issue is acquiring new customers is costly, in fact 5 times more costly than keeping existing customers, customers.

What’s interesting is 44% of businesses still place more efforts on the costly exercise of acquiring customers, whilst only 16% prioritise their existing customer base. Why is this so, when you consider a mere 5% increase in customer retention rates can boost company profits by 25% to 95%?

Happy customers that stay happy spend more over time. They already know about your product or service, and they tend to talk to their peers about you.

We all want returning customers, right? But how do we go about creating these experiences that sway them from our competition, and compel them enough to return time and time again?

Customer memory recall is key

One way is through working with your customers’ memory recall behaviour. 

To do so, we need to first understand how memories are formed. There is a common misconception that a memorable experience goes hand-in-hand with a frictionless experience – meeting the customer’s expectations every step of the way. But the reality is that when you feel that your expectations have been exceeded, regardless of small frictions existing in an experience, that will promote a longer lasting, stronger memory. And all you need is a moment or two to do that.

This is known as peak end theory – when we recall an experience our memory looks for the peak (the most emotionally intense point), and the end.

Businesses can play on this fact, to create unexpected emotionally high moments in the experience of your product or service, to create stronger customer recall. However the first step is to get the experience aligned with what the customer already expects of you.

  • Designing the expected

The customer journey is no longer simple, it’s in fact messier and more unpredictable as a result of Covid-19 as our expectations are now higher than ever. Consumers take many more paths, and inherit often unexpected behaviours when engaging with brands. This means traditional methods of predicting customer experiences are no longer valid.

So where do we start? To begin with, ask yourself what is the job your customer is trying to solve by using your product or service? People don’t go out to buy a lawn mower to cut the grass, they want a tidy looking garden. Write down the job, and all the situations a customer needs your service or product – then for each, write down the desired higher level outcome of the situations.

You now have a set of core reasons as to why a customer needs your product/service, alongside the desired outcome. You can now look to design experiences and features that deliver against these needs, specific to your brand.

Job done, right? Well no..

This is the point where most brands stop!

Stop there, and you are delivering what the customer already expects from you. You won’t be memorable.

  • Designing the unexpected

This is now your opportunity to own that spot in your customers memory via designing above

expectation. From the mapped situations from our previous exercise, revisit them to find the most emotionally intense point and the last, and ask yourself how can we overdeliver here? What is the customer feeling, and how can we design an exceptional experience that goes above and beyond in helping the customer?

Look back at your brand to remind yourself what you stand for, and the values you want to portray within an experience.

So how do we best identify these moments?

Look out for heightened emotions

Professor Gerald Zaltman states we buy with emotion and justify later with logic. When mapping situational needs, consider the emotional state the customer is in – how is the person feeling at that time when they take that action? Once identified, through empathising deeply with the customer at that particular point, you can design an experience through UX that not only fulfils the need, but leans into the current emotional state to propel that feeling of delight.

Feeling anxious when placing a large order? How might we shift the focus of responsibility, and settle the customer further at this stage?

Feeling overwhelmed when deciding over many options? How might we personalise the experience and make predictive decisions, reducing information overload for the customer? 

Doing this will put you in the true customer state, giving the customer experiences that feel relatable. These do not have to be costly, they just need to play into the current customer need and emotion, to add unexpected value to the customer’s experience.

How one FinTech startup uses cat meows to create a memorable touchpoint

A great example of this is the FinTech startup ANNA Money who are creating waves in the freelance and SME market through true brand-led digital experiences. The brand stands for no-nonsense, simple services for managing your businesses finances. It’s about fun and those moments of delight! ANNA Money identified their customers’ emotionally intense moment being customers spending their hard earned money through contactless payments, so introduced the sound of a cat meowing via their app. The moment was created after identifying that “meowing is the perfect form of communication”. It’s not a gimmick either, it’s a brand-led experience backing up what the service stands for – fun, helpful, memorable and notso serious finance support.

Be memorable

The Covid-19 pandemic has fast-forwarded many consumer trends from years to months. There is also a huge increase in noise from brands trying to gain our attention. In your customers eyes, going through an efficient, speedy and seamless experience is becoming the norm these days, making it even harder for them to recall you from your competitors. 

To them, you’re all starting to feel the same.

Try finding moments of delight to stand out, own that slot in your customers memory, and keep customers, customers. 

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