Don’t treat your customers like strangers

By Stuart Shingler Product Marketing Manager, Klarna

Every good business has its regular customers, those who come back again and again and become almost part of the family. Some of your most loyal customers will do so because they are creatures of habit, or perhaps you simply have exactly what they want at the best price. But loyalty based on convenience, or even worse price, can quickly be bought away from you by your competitors.

True loyalty, much like true friendship, can’t be bought. That’s why your regular customers really are your business’s best friends and you need to make sure you treat them as such.  Would you ask your friends to introduce themselves every time you saw them? Of course not, so why would you expect your customers to do exactly that when they shop online.

For a regular online shopper, having to enter their details again and again, every time they make a purchase, can be grindingly tedious and make them feel like just another contact in a CRM database. For returning customers this impersonal friction can erode customer loyalty very quickly.

As Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People put it

“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

But only when they hear it, not when they keep having to repeat it themselves.

Everybody wants the “Cheers” Experience. Anybody who’s ever watched the comedy series about the Boston bar secretly wishes that they were one of it’s regulars. When Norm walked through the door he was greeted by everyone calling his name and his drink was poured before he’d even made it from the door to the bar. This feeling of welcoming, friendly service was what kept Norm coming back day after day to his familiar seat next to Cliff. Sure, he wanted the beer too, but I doubt there was a shortage of places he could get that in Boston.

So make your website feel like Cheers and your visitors feel like Norm every time they “walk through the door”, especially the very first time they do so, and your business will have truly loyal customers and be all the more successful for it.

Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, although a step in the right direction, simply recognising that your customers should be treated like regulars, rather than strangers, isn’t enough. Making your customers feel like a Cheers regular, having the drink they want poured before they’ve even sat down, let alone had to ask, really can’t be faked.

How did Sam know to pour for a scotch for Frasier instead of a beer like Norm and Cliff? Because he recognised it was Frasier as he walked through the door and he knew what his prefered drink was. His eyes identified the person entering the bar and his memory matched that person to a drink.

If you want customers to feel like they are your valued friends then you really shouldn’t ask them to introduce themselves every time you see them. What was true for 1980’s fictional Boston is just as true for e-commerce. Cheers is your website and Frasier is your customer, but instead of eyes and a bar-tenders memory you have cookies, device IDs, CRM and dynamic UX. So make sure you use them so that every time your customers come back they feel special, like a person, like a friend.

Like the song said…you wanna go where everybody knows your name.