In a survey of more than 7,000 end-consumers, fully 77% said they’re not looking for a relationship at retail, and of those saying they do have a brand relationship, only 13% said frequent interactions were the reason. Low prices and impressions of mutual values were more likely to be motivators.
Findings from other studies agree. Mae West, preeminent American sex symbol of the 1930s, might have been talking about matters other than retailer-customer interactions when she said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” For example, it’s possible to thank your customers too much, according to researchers at University of California-Riverside, Boston College, and Southern Methodist University.
Let me say that as a consumer, I love being thanked by a retailer. And as a consumer psychologist, I recommend retailers thank their customers profusely and repeatedly. One of the many reasons for repeated thanks is to stay in touch with the customer.
So what might go wrong with these initiatives? The Riverside/Boston/Southern Methodist study assessed the repurchase behavior over a three year period by customers who were thanked repeatedly by the retailer. The researchers found that when there were too many thanks, the recipient began to see it as more of a sales pitch than as genuine appreciation. There were fewer repurchases from customers who indicated to the researchers that this tipping point had been exceeded.
How to avoid the risks?
- Find out which channels each consumer prefers for messages. Repurchasing dropped faster when a customer liked a personal telephone call, but was getting thanked via e-mail. For most consumers, a grammatically correct handwritten note is a welcome break from text messages. However, some prefer quick and dirty.
- Add unpredictability. A surprise thanks comes across as more genuine than an obviously scheduled one. Researchers at Yale University and Carnegie Mellon University found that a surprise gift to commercial bank customers resulted in significantly higher deposit account balances.
- Thank valued customers using a range of channels. A redo of the Mae West quote to, “You’re less likely to have too much of a good thing when it comes in a variety of ways,” isn’t as snappy as the original, but is more accurate.
Monitor Your Thanks to Customers
Meter Your Customer Service