&Open Jun 17, 2020
Within its walls, the customer and the shopkeeper knew each other intimately; the relationship was almost sacred. There was an implicit trust that meant they could extend lines of credit, be invited to family weddings, come over for an occasional teatime or evening tipple. Their customer service was so bespoke, they knew how much butter you needed in any given week.
Over time commerce scaled - population sprawled - people could be sold to remotely by phone or telesales, and then, digitally. Rapid scale and efficiencies became the critical drivers. The human experience was eroded.
Instead of personal interactions raising “awareness” became a key concern. Hence the rise of the “funnel” a catchy term created by ad agency executive Elias St. Elmo Lewis. It maps a theoretical customer journey that moves from awareness to interest, desire and action - as if customers are simply pawns who advance ( or “convert”) towards a business’ goals.
In ever expanding and evolving markets, loyalty is harder to attain and becoming more valuable than ever.
Culture is shifting again, a balance is returning. Recently we’ve moved back towards a customer - centric relationship with the concept of the “flywheel”. It’s another jargon-y term with a fundamentally different perspective on customers and their journeys. Unlike a funnel, the flywheel prioritises customers and their experiences. And for good reason: happy customers build momentum and energy by evangelising your brand to new customers, ultimately helping your company grow.
In other words, “If you can make your customer rabidly happy they turn into your best marketers,” as Michael Redford, General Manager of Hubspot’s Service Hub explains.
Today we live in a world decided to the customer and their experience. Within the flywheel. Customer retention and delight are baked into every moment; building customer satisfaction and relationships over time - instead of simply “converting” them once or twice - becomes a core priority of the business across all teams.
How do we stay close to a customer on their journey? How do we foster positive connection at relevant touchpoints?
It involves three key things
- Prioritise the human experience. Orientating all teams towards being customer - centric (across sales, marketing, CX, etc.).
- Remove friction (but not entirely, maintaining engagement and room of improvement is equally important).
- attracting , engaging, and delighting your customers regularly.
At &Open, we focus on step three - specifically through gifting. After all, what’s more engaging or delightful than receiving a thoughtful surprise? It allows you to say thank you, apologize for a mistake or simple show that you care. In a hyper- digital age, considered gift landing in your customers hands is extremely impactful. It creates a real - world moment that prioritises the human experience and shows real empathy. It’s a useful way for teams across the entire business - sales, marketing and customer experience- to connect with customers, but more importantly helps convert them into active brand advocates.
As Brian Halligan, Hubspot Co- Founder and CEO, explains: “delighting our existing customers…[is] the best way to find new customers.”
More importantly, we find thoughtful gifting turns customers into people again. Ones whom you can interact with and come to know through meaningful moments. While the flywheel doesn’t quite emulate the local store, it provides that same feeling of intimacy and thoughtfulness that’s only recently been reclaimed in our era of cold digital storefronts.