In a recent survey, over half of marketers (53%) said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused ‘radical’ or ‘significant’ changes to the customer journey […] Just 19% of marketers have seen no change at all. 

At a recent knowledge exchange, Insider asked a group of UK eCommerce and loyalty retailers what they are doing to create long-lasting customer relationships and what their post-purchase journeys look like.

How would you rate your customer’s post-purchase experience out of 10?

Answers ranged from 3 to 8, with everyone agreeing that there was work to do, especially around creating omnichannel experiences, personalizing experiences based on behaviors and cohorts, with many citing time and resources as blockers to reaching the ideal level of personalized customer experience. 

Is a loyal customer more important than a new one?

The answer was a resounding yes. Many subscription services acquire a new user at a loss so securing that second purchase couldn’t be more important. For one flower delivery company, 10% of customers make up 70% of their sales, so keeping those VIP customers happy and loyal is essential to their business. One consumer electronics retailer observed a substantial difference between customers who are or aren’t a member of their loyalty scheme, with members coming back three times more often in a year, spending twice as much as non-members. 

Listening to your customers

Reviews and ratings were brand new to some of the group, while others reaped the benefits of responsive customers happy to complete surveys around why they love your brand. 

One of the key takeaways from the session was listening to your customers and understanding what makes a loyal customer helps you focus your retention efforts in the right places to get “the most bang for your buck.”  

Personalization

Everyone agreed that personalization could and should play a huge role in creating positive and profitable post-purchase experiences. However, some brands were further along in their personalization journey than others. Dividing customers into cohorts and communicating to them differently and appropriately was raised as a high priority. 

“You need to speak to the person buying a £30 one-off gift differently to the person who buys £70 flowers for their house every week,” observed an online flower delivery business CEO. There are even more granular levels of personalization you can achieve, given the right strategy and technology, like personalized recommendations.

Going beyond generic welcome messaging in favour of personalized experiences is vital to both subscription services and more traditional retailers, sharing their expert knowledge of their products with their customers, tailored to excite and delight. 

Those who had already started their personalization journey stated that collecting data, building their strategy according to that data and automating for scalability was the next step. 

But just because we know it’s the right thing to do doesn’t make it easy. Both newer and more established brands have hurdles to cross to reach their personalization goals, “We’ve seen personalization work, it just doesn’t happen overnight – the lead time is longer than the ambition,” shared one luxury retail expert.

Competing with “convenience giants”

Be it Amazon, Ocado, or supermarkets, competing on price and convenience is a big customer loyalty challenge. Storytelling has been an essential part of overcoming this, creating a “feel-good factor,” sharing your mission as “a force for good,” encouraging customers to take pride in higher quality, or being a solution provider, not just a seller of individual items. 

Everyone agreed that discounting works to a certain extent—still, it’s boring and damages margins, whereas using storytelling and individualized experiences to create emotional loyalty is better for your brand and business metrics. 

Alternatives to discounting

One great example of thinking outside the box for churn retrieval campaigns came from a subscription company. Instead of offering a discount to entice customers back, the company leveraged its strategic vendor partnerships. For example, if a customer returns and makes a full-priced purchase, they’re sent a partner vendor voucher code. 

This approach not only gives an exciting incentive to churned customers; it also provides the opportunity to align your brand with partners that share your values and quality service levels. 

Many beauty brands have turned to the human touch to bring back buyers—offering virtual beauty and skincare consultations to increase their customers’ connection to their brands, creating value through meaningful experiences. 

Some important advice from the start of COVID: “People are going to remember how you made them feel during this.” Everything you can do to make your customers feel good goes a long way towards building a brand that customers love.

If you’re ready to personalize your post-purchase experience in a way that’s scalable across all channels, request a consultation with one of our digital growth experts today.