Before digital was even a concept, there was the local store.
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.
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?
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.