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How to develop and implement a welcome strategy

How to develop and implement a welcome strategy

By Gavin Wheeler, CEO, WDMP

Although many brands run welcome programmes, I still get depressed by the number that don’t think them through – and end up actually putting me off, rather than engaging me.  

Take the automotive sector.  Anyone who buys a car does extensive research into the right brand and model for their needs and aspirations and identifies how best to afford the purchase.  So why does a welcome pack from a car manufacturer include information on all the other models the customer decided not to buy as well as the credit packages they decided not to take up?!

Similarly, mobile phones are ‘considered’ purchases but all too often the welcome process is seen as an instant opportunity to cross-sell other phones and packages.  But once someone receives their new mobile phone, haven’t they just taken themselves off the market, at least for a short while?!

In both cases, the thinking is wrong.  Perhaps, if we changed ‘welcome’ to ‘bonding’ strategy, marketers might get it right more often.  Your bonding strategy needs to be seen as the first stage in an ongoing, developing and personalised CRM programme and it’s vitally important to get it right so you can surprise and delight customers from day one and earn the right for continued business.

So what are the six main points you should consider if you want to kick-start a long and mutually fruitful relationship with your customers?

1. Thank

Never take a purchase or a customer for granted.  Thank people for selecting your product/service and show your appreciation.  No brand is an island, so there are bound to be competitors looking to steal the next purchase from you. So, for instance, Maserati sends a personal letter from its Global CEO and includes his email address so people can get in touch.  The most important thing at this stage is to show recognition of the customer as an individual.  No one wants to receive a thank you that is obviously a round robin  – one-size-fits-all just doesn’t cut it.

2. Personalise

Use the customer data that you have wisely - to personalise communications appropriately.  Refer specifically to what they’ve bought and consider giving them a relevant reward.  It doesn’t have to have a monetary value – it can be exclusive information just for them as a new customer, as long as it makes them feel special.  Depending on a customer’s purchase (did they buy the entry level product or the more complex, high-end one?) you can often make fair assumptions about customers’ market knowledge and needs and use this to segment the messaging and spend by customer type early on.  

3. Reassure

When someone’s just spent their hard earned cash, they want to know they made the right choice. So, reinforce the excellent reasons why they chose your brand in the first place.  If you have good independent reviews on the product/service they’ve purchased then why not include them?  Provide people with clear information on how to contact you if they have any problems – with achievable promises on how quickly you will resolve them.
4. Inform

Provide customers with a clear picture of the brand experience they should expect from the start and also how they can make the most from their purchase.  For instance, in the mobile sector, you can bring a human touch to the technology with clear, simple advice on the handset – such as the Fast Start Guides to your handset which we created for Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk; also, providing a clear breakdown of the tariff someone’s chosen to ensure they have selected the best one for their needs and how to understand their first bill.  This kind of customer service approach reduces customer calls and can really impact on long term customer retention.

5. Learn more

Learning more about your customers should be an ongoing goal from day one.  For a start, find out how your customers like to receive communications from you.  Then, explain why you will be asking for information and the benefit to the customer of providing it – and, of course, ask for their permission.  As you take customers through the welcome process, encourage them to provide bite-sized pieces of information and feed this into the personalisation of your communications.  E.g. with Thomson Holidays we found out where people might like to go on holiday next to help tailor appropriately.

6. Take the sommelier approach

Having done all the above, you can then - finally - start to cross and up-sell.  But it will be from a point of understanding; much like the service approach of a sommelier whose advice is informed, welcome and generally helpful rather than that of an annoying salesperson.  

That has to be a better position to take – and ultimately a much more successful one.  So, if investing in a more effective and considered welcome strategy gets you to this point, surely that’s got to be worth it?  Certainly from my spend with sommeliers over the years, I’d say so!

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