Surprise And Delight? Please Don’t
Since Estee Lauder first introduced the free gift with purchase in 1946, retail brands have been wracking their collective brain in efforts to triumph in the “surprise & delight” of customers. From free samples, to surprise birthday gifts and loyalty perks, we seem to have seen it all at this point.
The motivation behind all of this attempted delight is to stand out to your customer, help them remember your brand and think of your brand when they walk down the shopping aisle or pick up their phone to make a purchase.
It seems logical, right?
As a guest speaker during a recent webinar, Emily Pfeiffer, principal analyst, commerce technology, was asked her thoughts on how brands should surprise and delight their customers during customer support interactions.
Her answer? “Please don’t.”
Customers don’t really want to be surprised. In fact, most of us at a basic human level don’t want to be surprised.
The occasional thoughtful gift from a friend or loved one is wonderful, but on the whole, we thrive on dependability and routine. Neither the sudden jolt to the system that came with a tiger attacking your village or a lightning bolt setting your hut on fire were welcome occurrences.
Surprise is not our jam.
This preference for the familiar starts early. Researchers at the University of Toronto found in a study of infants from 9 to 12 months that when it comes to music, babies prefer to listen to familiar tunes – even if the songs are sung by an unfamiliar voice.
We like the familiar. We like to know what’s coming.
An event happening when we least expect it can drive a negative response - even with the best of intentions.
But if this is all true, how are brands supposed to stay top-of-mind? How are you supposed to stand out and be remembered?
The truth is your customers don’t think about your brand and they don’t want to have to think about it.
We don’t get up in the morning with our favorite brands on our mind. Our favorite brands have achieved that status because when we need or want to buy something they are the default, obvious choice. Brands that make it incredibly easy for us to interact with them over and over are those that win.
Many might argue that the “free gift with purchase” was obviously a huge success. Yes, we all love gifts, but no amount of free stuff can make up for a poor product or terrible experience.
For Estee Lauder's tactic to work she first had to have a strong product and great buying experience.
She once broke a bottle of her perfume in a department store that refused to feature it. Customers flocked to the scent, demanding to know where they could buy it. The best buying experience at that time was in a department store; today the best buying experience is anywhere, any time your customers are ready to buy.
The brands that triumph understand that ease wins the hearts of consumers. Need to return something? No problem. Just pull up to the curb and while you’re here you can grab your morning Starbucks!
It’s 4am after your night shift and you need to know if your child’s birthday gift will arrive on time? No problem. Our automated chat is available 24/7 and can resolve any question or concern you may have!
Good service shouldn’t be a surprise.
Provide your customers a quality product, an incredibly simple buying experience and various methods of frictionless self-service and they will be delighted never to have to reach out to you in the first place.