The dizzying pace of emails, text messages and social media that are all sent to multiple email addresses and devises presents a huge opportunity for marketers to create greater impact incorporating the exact opposite and go retro!
Extensive customer data collected at multiple touch points and abundant digital marketing tools allows us to send personalized messaging and develop tailored experiences for our customers BUT these can have even greater impact when high touch and yes – maybe even a little old fashioned – components are added to your marketing plans.
CRM strategies and digital campaigns have greater power by including human touch: hand written, hand crafted and hand delivered!
With the clutter of electronic messages, the time taken to send a simple, hand written note, developing a hand crafted experience or hand delivering a message in person demonstrates real interest to the customer. This human touch conveys honesty and trustworthiness and is a powerful partner to successful digital programs. It may make the difference in not just building loyalty but keeping it.
1. Simple hand written notes, hand addressed envelopes and a real stamp says you cared to take time to acknowledge the guest in a personal way
So much of the mail we receive today is transactional vs. personal. I get excited to find a hand written note in the mail box.
Lois Geller, loisgellermarketinggroup.com, is one of the best at this. I look forward to getting a card from her as it always includes something interesting. My most recent card included a newspaper article about my town. I appreciate that she knows about me AND that she has taken precious time to build a relationship. For many years, I have been a loyal customer of her digital marketing and social media management expertise but she never forgets the importance of hand written.
When Peter French, President of Raffles Hotels & Resorts, was the General Manager of Raffles Dubai, he sent beautiful hand written notes to his guests. They included a quote of his own or others, artistically written in fountain pen. I looked forward to getting them and was certain he chose the quote just for me. I even kept many of them and truly appreciated the time it took. It really stood out in all of my travel experiences. Raffles is a luxury lifestyle hotel company and this seemingly small gesture says so much about the nature of this brand. www.raffles.com
2. Hand crafted experiences and customer engagement builds the emotional connection needed for loyalty
Hospitality and wellness businesses have the advantage of many opportunities to create personalized, one of a kind experiences. But, every business has multiple customer touch points and the experience doesn’t always have to be an elaborate one
We recently bought living room furniture from a company in North Carolina called CR Laine. www.crlaine.com This was an investment for us and we took a lot of time to select styles and fabrics. So when it arrived at our house, I was excited to get the crates opened. The added bonus was that each piece of furniture had a card attached.
Each was hand signed by the craftsmen who made our beautiful sofa and chairs. We could envision Sharon, Roger and Linda making our special purchase and love doing it. I know CR Laine makes thousands of pieces but having each person sign made it very personal for me. I am in the process of buying additional items from them.
At the former SkyDome Hotel in Toronto, we had the opportunity to create a new restaurant concept and menu. Loyal customers are often curious about the places they frequent and how things are done – but they can also be wary of change. So the team decided to invite the top 30 most regular guests to go through the process with us. This included coming to product testing sessions with the Chef including how to select the perfect potatoes for our new handmade French fry menu. The guests loved being hands on and learning what goes into creating a restaurant. Of course, when it opened, they loved “their” new place.
3. Hand delivered adds the human touch. Extending a hand in a meaningful way makes it personal and nothing is better at keeping loyalty than that.
Electronic communication is efficient and can help us manage our time dealing with customers but it can become a pretext to avoid coming face to face. This is particularly so with difficult situations when tone and body language can add a dimension often missing in the electronic world.
A few years ago at a Willow Stream Spa, a guest was tweeting that she was not happy with her experience. It was evident from the tweets that she was a regular guest and was tweeting while sitting by a spa pool. The brand social media manager immediately alerted the spa and the Spa Director went looking for this guest. When he spotted her (still tweeting), he went over, introduced himself and said “I understand that we are not living up to your expectations today”. The guest was amazed, the problem was fixed and immediately new tweets followed that this was the best spa in the world.
While a Fairmont Hotel General Manager, I called a guest whom a colleague had mentioned was upset. The issue was bad and I think I said something like “This is awful and I would be really mad if this happened to me. Is there any way that I can make this better?” There was no business (or legal) convention required in something written and the tone of my voice conveyed much more than a written “OMG”! He became a loyal guest. He was also an executive in a candy company and for many year sent boxes of samples to the staff.
We were invited to run a Revenue Improvement Workshop for 10 leaders of large spa business that was going to face increasing competition from new competition opening in the neighborhood. In preparation for the session, we pulled the names from the data base of the top 25 customers by simple frequency and spend. As an experiment, we had the names put on a board and asked the group the significance of these names. NONE of the leaders could answer. We later asked 10 random front line employees the same thing and 100% knew they were customers and many knew details about why, when and with whom they came to the spa. What an eye opener for the leaders. They recognized the opportunity to enhance their personal connections with these already loyal guests to keep them loyal in the future and made this a key strategy.
The most successful spa marketing campaigns we have experienced have been when digital and social media components were complimented by at least one element that required a personal interaction – something hand delivered or hand written. These human campaign extensions included offers inside beautiful envelopes, personally handed to a guest by their therapist or campaign themed stationary provided to the Spa Director to write hand written notes to the top customers to be the first to try something new.
CRM success is enhanced when our data analysis, digital programs and tools work hand in hand with personal connections to our customers. Examining guest touch points and marketing programs for opportunities to hand write, hand craft or hand deliver will definitely give your campaigns a hand up in earning long term customer loyalty.