Building customer loyalty through ‘surprise and delight’

Posted by Phil Smith

‘Surprise and delight’. It may only be a small gesture, but it can make someone’s day. Whether it’s a free drink, an upgrade or a money-off coupon on their birthday, chances are it was unexpected, making it a welcome surprise the recipient is likely to remember for a long time.

More and more retailers and brands are choosing to ‘surprise and delight’ their loyal customers. As a strategy to reward them with treats when they’re not expecting them, these gestures are proven to trigger positive feelings, creating a deeper sense of brand loyalty and encouraging advocacy. Not only can they work as a brand differentiator, they can also be a highly effective strategy in fostering long-term loyalty.

Pret a Manager is one example of a brand that has deployed a ‘surprise and delight’ strategy by empowering its staff to give out free drinks or food to their favourite customers. This has become a real talking point, making Pret a Manger stand out in the highly crowded coffee shop market. In 2015 alone, they gave away one million free coffees, raising the profile of the brand, and encouraging repeat visits from customers in the hope of becoming the next lucky recipient.

Mastercard is also known for its ‘Priceless Surprises’ programme, which utilised the power of social media to connect with customers and hand out spontaneous gifts and prizes, surprising people when they least expected it. The initiative has become one of the most engaging marketing campaigns ever, generating a huge social media buzz that continues today, and building emotional connections that help keep customers loyal to its brand.

According to a survey conducted by LoyaltyOne in 2015, the impact of ‘surprise and delight’ on loyalty and perception is significant, with 95% confirming that it boosted their positive perception of the brand. More than half of respondents went on to share their experiences with family and friends, and 34% revealed that the experience had led them to give the brand more business as a direct result.

It’s well-known that it can cost several times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. But the beauty of ‘surprise and delight’ is that it can help keep current customers loyal, and attract new customers at the same time. After all, one happy customer can draw in many more.

‘Surprise and delight’ doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. But ultimately, key to its success is understanding customers’ preferences and buying behaviour and making those surprises relevant and meaningful to them. If brands can get that right, they can create a powerful bond with their customers that can last a lifetime.

‘Surprise and delight’ is just one way to drive people to stores and build long-term brand loyalty. Contact us today to see how else to keep customers coming back to you and spending more with your brand.

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