The rush of to-do’s on a Monday morning provided a fantastic reminder of how some brands get it right with customer loyalty and some continue to struggle. I’ll share the story of two contrasting approaches to customer loyalty in this post, then follow up later this week with a specific analysis of why brands emphasizing a pure acquisition strategy leave lots of customer value on the table.
First the good news. I receive my business mail through a UPS Store and checked my box this morning in the process of returning a pile of Cisco routers to ATT (that story comes in a moment). The cheerful business owner of the UPS Store handed me the accumulated mail from the box, and I noticed a cushy envelope with return address of Freshbooks, the cloud based accounting solution based in Toronto which I’ve used almost since its inception.
Opening the envelope, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a hand-written note from a customer care person thanking me for a mention I made of the company in this Retail Wire discussion and offering to assist me if I needed help with their service in the future. Also enclosed was a great looking Freshbooks t-shirt.
This small effort by Freshbooks had a big impact on me, so much so that I’m happy to include this referral link here in case you’re looking for a great cloud based accounting solution and want to give Freshbooks a try. First off, the company is paying attention to its online reputation. They’re not just tracking their name mentions and responding to people who look like they are prospective customers. They took time to apply some human insight to their digital observations and make a good business decision to acknowledge a legitimate and unbiased mention of their name.
Next, their timing was very good. Freshbooks could not have known this, but I’ve been looking for a more efficient way to track billable time and also am seeking a payroll solution to match our needs. I was on the verge of giving both of these decisions over to a larger cloud based provider as a default decision, but now will take time to investigate the options offered by Freshbooks.
In review, you might say this was a simple gesture made by Freshbooks on my behalf, and that it should be expected from online firms considering the available tracking technology. I agree that this behavior should be demonstrated by more online retailers, but it is not. There is gold to be found in good execution and more firms need to follow the Freshbooks approach – to use the tools and technology available to it and then to apply a human touch to execute well in recognition of customers and fans. This matches up to one of the pillars of Contextual Loyalty – to recognize your customers as human beings and to respond to them as such.
Reading through this, you must be wondering what I was doing with an armful of Cisco routers, and why I was sending them to ATT on a Monday morning. To be direct, I had to cancel the U Verse service I had for the past 5 years and then reorder it just to keep my monthly bill from getting out of control. The cancel/reorder behavior is widely practiced by consumers and I had resisted it until it was encouraged by an ATT employee who recommended it as the only path to get a better deal – the same deal that new customers are being offered today.
This unfortunate consumer practice comes as result of a company, ATT, which seems to exclusively pursue a customer acquisition strategy. Unbalanced dedication to new customer acquisition is a strategy endemic to cable, TV and internet providers. I’ve got several great reasons why they are missing the boat on promoting customer loyalty and will cover that in a post later this week.