In the economic climate today, the competitive battleground over custom and loyalty is fierce and one option to entice new business, or promote loyalty within the existing customer base is through offering freebies or special deals. Whether this is through free apps heavily embedded with adverts, or offering special gifts to customers, companies are increasingly going out of their way to buy existing customers’ loyalty and bring new customers to the brand.
If the old adage “Nothing in life is free,” is to be believed then companies see a real economic benefit in enticing customers with their free gifts and special services.
So, are customers who are partaking in this service, deserving of the same quality of customer experience as when they are experiencing their normal service? They have, at least, invested time into the product, if not their money. And perceptions of a company’s brand are still being influenced via the nature of an interaction taking place between the customer and the brand, regardless of the cost to the customer that is involved.
There is a real danger of investing too much time and resource in offering something the customer doesn’t want or expect, and ultimately having a negative effect on the customer.
The issue requires assessment in the context of the whole customer experience. As companies offer these gifts in an effort to drive new business or promote loyalty, the customer experience should really be above the expectation of the customer, creating a positive impact. But, in a culture where customers expect so much, can companies match the level of expectation while offering specials or gifts?
I believe companies need to strike the fine balance between getting the basics right for every customer, and going the extra mile to turn every customer into an advocate. This is only possible by capturing, mapping and understanding the whole customer journey to enable the business to highlight the key moments of truth and adapt accordingly. Brands can ascertain the impact of special offers and freebies on the whole customer experience and judge whether they are worthwhile, or impacting negatively on the customer.
Although specials and freebies can boost customer advocacy, ultimately the core business needs to ensure they get the basics right.