Applying Effective Surprise and Delight Tactics to Different Customer Segments

April 27, 2017 Catherine Malone

An unexpected gift or perk from a business not only has the potential to make a customer’s day, it also has the potential to turn them into a lifelong, loyal fan and brand advocate.

This is because brands who surprise and delight their customers often provide an exceptional customer experience in doing so.

Customers who have a good experience are not only likely to purchase more, but they’ll tell their friends about it too. A study by American Express found that Americans tell an average of nine people about good customer experiences.

Therefore, surprise and delight can be an effective strategy to help reinforce your relationship with your customers, increase sales and even acquire new customers.

Identifying the Right Customer Segments

It’s important not to blanket your entire customer base with a surprise and delight campaign. Not all customer segments are a good fit for these tactics. Mine your data and note trends to determine which audiences to target. Consider which segments would be most responsive to a campaign, and those who are most valuable to your brand.

Best practices suggest there are two segments which make an ideal fit for a surprise and delight campaign. Through analysis of loyalty program trends and behaviors, these segments can be better defined. 

“Champions” or “Loyals” are already highly engaged and brand loyal. Surprise and delight campaigns should be applied to this segment in order to make efforts to retain these customers, reward them, and spur advocacy.

The “Persuadables” are responsive to marketing but require a little more nurturing. Surprise and delight campaigns should be applied to this segment in order to positively influence them to drive action and convert to engage beyond sales and become “Champions”.

Different campaign objectives require different tactics, here’s a guide to delivering the right surprise and delight tactics to each customer segment.

Surprise and Delight Tactics for Champions

These are your brand advocates. Campaigns targeting this segment would help companies increase spend or champion positive word-of-mouth.

  1. Exclusive rewards. To keep their customers buying their products or services, companies should mine their data to identify which customers are more engaged and spending the most money and reward them for doing so. Sending a surprise gift keeps brands top of mind and recipients active and happy.
  2. Experiential surprises. Every so often brands need to show their most loyal customers how much they appreciate them by offering an experience of luxury or convenience. Surprising your customer with an unexpected exclusive experience creates excitement and prompts them to spread the love for the brand.
  3. Personal gifts. Establish and reaffirm meaningful connections with your brand champions and demonstrate how important they are by surprising them with thoughtful gifts you know they’ll enjoy based on the data you have on them. 

Surprise and Delight Tactics for Persuadables

These customers could be persuaded to develop a stronger connection to the brand. Campaigns targeting this segment need to be around brand recognition and engagement in order to increase spend and brand loyalty.

  1. Re-engagement rewards. If a once loyal or active customer has become inactive, incentivize them with a gift or additional points to spark new activity. This unexpected gesture will help create a memorable experience and reconnect them to the brand.
  2. Perks that promote brand value. To further engage or reengage with consumers, some companies extend special perks that align with their brand values, e.g., the Hard Rock has offered hotel guests free access to a guitar and amp set for the duration of their stay. This reinforces an emotional connection with the recipients and helps build greater affinity for the brand.
  3. Milestones and birthdays. Use the data you collect on your customers to help build an emotional bond with them. Surprising them with a gift to commemorate a special occasion helps build better brand association and reminds them that you’re there and you value them.

By defining surprise and delight objectives and targeting campaigns to the appropriate customer segments, companies have the opportunity to heighten customer experience and establish stronger brand connections. If executed effectively, to the right audience at the right time, companies can enjoy higher customer satisfaction rates, increased sales, expanded brand recognition and customer referrals.

It’s important to also consider that brand loyalty requires constant nurturing to keep customer satisfaction at an all-time high and that a surprise and delight strategy should be part of an overarching loyalty marketing initiative. And just as the reasons to implement such tactics vary across brands, companies are best served to take a multi-pronged approach to such campaigns. By targeting the right customers at the right time with unexpected surprises, brands can reinforce greater loyalty and drive advocacy.

For more surprise and delight campaign ideas to integrate into your loyalty strategy, download our e-book “10 Ways to Surprise and Delight Consumers to Drive Loyalty”.

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