A few years ago I found in a research study that customers want to be “rewarded” for their loyalty. Now you might immediately think this means points, but it was more complex than that. What consumers really want is to feel appreciated for their business. That can be communicated in a variety of ways, both tangible (points being one) and personal — such as a heartfelt “thanks for your business.”
TD Bank recently explored how best to thank customers in a recent survey of 1,000+ people conducted by research firm MARU/VCR&C. A major finding was that 84% prefer an in-person thank you, especially if accompanied by a gift. This was true of all demographics, far ahead of the phone, email, or text as communication choices.
Etiquette expert Lizzie Post of The Emily Post Institute, says that human interactions have higher impact because all senses are engaged. For the greatest effect, it’s important for employees to convey emotion, use the customer’s name, and be genuine. Don’t script it!
You may recall TD Bank’s “ATM” campaign — Automated Thanking Machines — from a couple of years ago (video). It was a viral sensation (24M views currently) that delivered a brand promise: TD Bank doesn’t take customers for granted.
How does in-person thanking work in the broader trend towards digital experiences? Ernie Diaz, Regional President for TD Banks’s Florida region, says the study found even smartphone-obsessed millennials appreciate the personal touch. The bank is taking an “integrated approach” to customer communications, offering 24/7 digital service, but also making their “stores” (bank branch offices) available for in-person experiences that some prefer, especially for more complex banking decisions.
The approach appears to be working well. JD Power’s 2016 survey found TD Bank ranked highest in Florida. The research firm also noted that:
While the overall number of bank branches in the United States declines, brick and mortar branches are still a key channel for servicing customers in those moments of truth (e.g., resolving problems and dealing with more complex transactions). This is evident in user preference patterns, with the percentage of customers opening accounts online steadily increasing but the branch continually performing higher in terms of enhancing product understanding and reducing future problems.
Here are some other key findings from the survey:
- From millennials to Gen Xers, consumers like freebies (39% and 38%, respectively). Boomer (25%) were a bit less receptive.
- About one third of respondents reporting that they prefer their thanks in the form of points or miles.
- Only 7% percent of millennials and 4% of Gen Xers like receiving a written thank-you note from a brand. Email didn’t fare much better, only 3 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
Bottom line, showing appreciation takes some effort, including hiring and training people to do so authentically. And, those “freebies” cost something.
For maximum impact thank customers in person, personalize, and include something of value. If a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible, then the next most popular means was by text for millennials, by phone for Gex Xers, and email for boomers.
Have you said “thanks” recently to your customers?