In any kind of relationship, you can’t expect to succeed with basic manners or grandiose gestures, yet many companies view support through those exact lenses. It’s really the steady cultivation of understanding, respect and loyalty that make all the difference between two people and between a business and its customers.
GLUE, or Giving Little Unexpected Extras, is a customer service tactic that will help you foster that sense of loyalty between you and your customers long term. GLUE entails going just a smidge above and beyond your competition to delight customers without breaking the bank. A great example of this is a small business writing handwritten thank you notes to show how much it appreciates its customers.
The seasonal uptick in sales during Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) brings about an opportunity to use GLUE to increase your number of repeat customers. But the stakes are also higher during this time of year, as a poor experience during holiday shopping is sure to get you crossed off of a customer's shopping list.
We’ll go through some new, creative ideas for adding GLUE to your business strategy so you can excel during this holiday shopping season.
Share your story over email to forge a connection
You may have a slew of clever marketing emails ready for Black Friday Cyber Monday. But have you ever taken the opportunity to tell your customers the story of why you started your business?
Offering up your honest origin story will bridge the sincerity gap between your business and your customers. If you have guiding principles for design, the way you source your materials, or your sustainability practices, you should communicate those, too.
Though this may seem like a simple way to give customers an unexpected extra, it’s also an easy way to connect with them on a personal level. Instead of speaking to customers as a business, this is your opportunity to take them for a “virtual coffee” face to face. The concept that honesty begets deeper relationships is one that’s been widely explored in the Bowen theory of psychology. And there’s no reason you can’t use that tactic in your marketing.
One of my favorite examples of this is from small business owner Sam Alter of Atlas Pet Company. The brand’s first email to customers is signed by Sam and his black lab, Atlas, because they founded the company together based on Atlas’s need for better gear.
Integrate content into your packaging
You can keep your customers engaged with your brand long after they rip open the initial packaging. In many ways, all of your hard work culminates in this moment—when a customer physically experiences the product for the first time. If you have a blog, including a short print magazine of your best recent posts can be the icing on the cake. Or, if that’s too resource heavy or doesn’t make sense for your product category, add a link to your blog or where to subscribe to your weekly newsletter front and center in your packaging instead.
This GLUE idea requires a bit of extra planning and teamwork, but it creates a strong brand identity and a reason to keep your customers interested in both your brand and your products. It’s something customers can look forward to reading each time they order from you, especially if you offer an auto-ship option.
Dollar Shave Club includes a print magazine called MEL in every order. Each edition is delightfully snarky and fun to read. It also offers a paperless version for those who are trying to cut back on paper waste.
Add in an affordable, branded gift
You’ve heard this one before. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money on including a gift with each order.
There are two types of branded gifts you should consider:
- Value add. Give customers a small, economical gift that genuinely helps them get a bit more out of the product. This is something the customer receives immediate value from, and it also serves as an introduction to another product they may purchase later. For example, Viberg Boot gives a sample of shoe cream for leather care. It’s immediately useful, and customers get to try out something that they’re going to want to buy later on to extend the life of their new product.
- Identity based. Send customers a gift that speaks to their identity in the same way your product does. A business with a strong philosophical stance, brand identity, or design chops might send customers something they can show off. A simple example of this is a cool branded sticker, which is free advertising for you.
West Path, a surf, yoga, and home decor business based in San Diego, sends a branded shaka sticker with orders. It’s on brand, relates to its hometown, and spreads good vibes 🤙. Win-win for the business and its customers.
Harness the power of video
With the onset of COVID-19, small business owners and customer service teams alike have relied more heavily on video communication to connect with each other. Video is a powerful tool to use with customers: a global research study conducted by PwC in 2018 found that 59% of consumers worldwide feel that support has lost the spark of human connection.
That leaves a prime opportunity for you to use video as an unexpected extra to incite delight in your customers. Here are a couple of ways you can use video to strengthen the bond (pun intended) you have with them.
59% of consumers worldwide feel that support has lost the spark of human connection.
1. Send personalized videos after difficult conversations
There are always going to be tricky situations, especially during the intense rush of the holidays. Taking the time as a small business owner to send a video thank you to a customer for their patience and perseverance will go a long way in convincing them to shop with you again. Recording that video somewhere personal, like your kitchen or living room couch, can also help them feel a stronger connection to you. But there is a time and place for everything. Make sure you read the metaphorical room here—if the customer is truly upset, this might not be the best approach.
2. Pop videos into email communications
These could be support emails or marketing emails. In support emails, you or, if you have one, your support team, can record a short message letting customers know you’ll be with them soon. Or, sprinkle product videos into marketing emails so customers can get a better idea of what your new products look like IRL. Loom is a great tool for guided product walkthroughs or short video messages.
Margot da Cunha, formerly of Wistia’s customers team, tried a form of “one-to-many” delight by using a personal video in her email signature. Through tracking engagement, she found 87% of people she emailed clicked on the video, and those who watched often made it all the way to the end.
Fast-forward a year, and now all of Wistia’s customer-facing team members have personalized video signatures. Their in-house video team even developed a new template to make production quick and easy.
3. Screen share and do 1:1 video support for VIP customers
If you have the time and resources, use video to chat 1:1 with customers so you can screen share and troubleshoot—it can save a lot of time in the long run. Allow customers who are having issues checking out or issues with your website to share their screen, and you or one of your reps can help walk them through the problem. This is also a great opportunity to do more challenging support conversations face to face, so customers know you’re communicating genuinely and honestly and without a script.
4. Include links to assembly videos in packaging
Have you ever tried to replace a part on a kitchen appliance? Recently, the water filter needed to be replaced in my fridge, and I was on YouTube faster than you can say “cold pizza.”
If you sell items that require assembly, consider filming a video where you put together the piece and walk the customer through assembly simultaneously. Fun Fact: Ikea actually does this. Then, add a link to that video on the packaging or in a follow-up email after your systems show that the order has been delivered.
Allow customers to donate unwanted orders to a good cause
If you offer free shipping and free returns, chances are the cost to pay the return shipping of heavy or bulky items outweighs the revenue you’ll make from the product. In that case, consider allowing customers to donate the product to a good cause.
Pet supply company Chewy allows customers to donate returns to a local animal shelter, which sparks delight for customers and shelters alike. This little unexpected extra makes the return process easier on the customer (no need to pack and ship a bulky return), and it’s something that you both can feel good about.
Of course, this has to make sense for your business, and it should lower your stress while also making life a little easier and more delightful for your customers.
Offer personal support
If you’re like me, one of the first things you do before a big purchase is look through a brand’s shipping and return policies and establish how to get in contact should you need anything. So offer customers an easy way to get in touch. And if you can’t offer live chat support, give them an idea of when they can expect a message or phone call back from you.
This version of GLUE is not as glamorous as a free gift, but personal support will make a much bigger difference to your customer retention rates over time.
Personal customer service means setting reasonable expectations and meeting them.
Great personal support doesn’t necessarily mean live chat. It just means customers can get the information they need without feeling like they’re sending emails into a black hole.
Personal customer service means setting reasonable expectations and meeting them. It also means keeping in contact, even via email, to let your customers know you got their request and will be following up soon. This can be as simple as having an up-to-date, easily accessible FAQ page where customers can self-serve the answers they need.
Black Friday Cyber Monday is a great time to get started
At its core, GLUE is a customer service strategy that’s meant to make a lasting impression on your customers, increase loyalty and retention. But in order to be successful, GLUE needs to accompany great product offerings that live up to customer expectations and a support strategy that minimizes problems before it goes about exceeding them.
So, as you prep for Black Friday Cyber Monday, think about how you can make the experience special for your customers. Just remember delight’s rightful place in your support strategy: not as the meat and potatoes but served up as the little unexpected extras.