I’d like to share what happened to me when I purchased some clothing from LL Bean last week. I’ll attempt to break it down into various components.
Several years ago, I received an LL Bean Christmas catalog in the mail. At that time, I needed a coat and some long-sleeved shirts so I indicated what I wanted and Santa brought them to me. I did the same this year with a sweatshirt and more shirts. The LL Bean catalog is the only one I actually sit down and go through and now it’s a minor part of my Christmas tradition.
When the shipment arrived this year there was a coupon good for $10 off the next purchase which had to be used prior to February 16. In January, I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to order some short sleeve polo shirts.
A week prior to the coupon expiring I received an e-mail reminding me of that incentive and informing me that I could receive free shipping.
Their catalog had different types of polo shirts, so rather than go online and order via their web site, I called their toll free number. I mentioned my hatred of collar roll and the rep suggested which type to order. Rather than have to give her my billing and mailing info, she just verified it as it was already in her database. It was a pleasure not to have to repeat all of that mundane information.
Let’s break it down:
The Need: Well-made comfortable polo shirts that don’t suffer from collar roll
Part 1: Shopping and buying:
Enjoying reading the catalog
Customer service reps available on weekends
Retaining my customer data so that I’m “recognized” each time we interact
Including a discount on my next purchase
Pleasant, efficient, and knowledgeable customer service rep
Part 2: Using their product:
Wearing well-made comfortable fashionable polo shirts that will not suffer from collar roll
(Note: In this case I broke the experience into two categories. Shopping, and using the product. Some organizations need to work on both, others won’t.)
Pleasant, efficient, and knowledgeable customer service rep (yes, this one is listed under two categories because I believe it impacts both.)
Mailing me the catalog in at the appropriate time
Sending me a timely e-mail reminding me of the incentive’s expiration date
Understanding my communication preferences and not attempting to over communicate with me
It’s clear that the meeting the need here is paramount. But the difference between a transactional strategy and a relational strategy is that the relationship increases customer retention. Remember, it’s seven to eight times more expensive to acquire customers as it is to retain them.
Sure, a customer can be loyal to a business without an ongoing relationship. But if Bean don’t reach out to me, I can just as easily purchase my shirts at Macy’s and have them the day I purchase them. LL Bean takes the additional step of using timely communications to remind me that they can craft an experience that meets my needs. Their customer service reps are professional, knowledgeable, and effective.
Of course the problem is that not all customers want the same type of relationship. It’s more difficult, for example, to segment customers by products, frequency, and how they want to be communicated with (never, seasonal as I do with LL Bean, monthly, etc.)
What do you think?
You won’t get collar roll by following me on Twitter. I’m txglennross.