How can you improve the pre-delivery and pre-arrival customer experience for your products and services to increase brand engagement?

Thinking
10.01.2018

Customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This article is a result of an experience I had, and I hope it highlights why brands should implement or improve the pre-delivery and pre-arrival customer experience for their products and services.

Increase brand engagement before your customers use your products or experience your services.

Whether your business offers a service or product, most of the marketing budget usually goes towards customer acquisition and remarketing, but little or none goes towards building an excellent customer experience. Why? Because often the assumption is; if you provide quality products and services to your customers, they will love them and become loyal to the brand. This thinking partially makes sense, but businesses are missing a tremendous opportunity to create value for the customer that reaches far beyond their products and services - At Rephraze, we call this Brand Sustainability, and it's one of the four pillars on which we build modern brands.

This article explores a facet in the Customer Experience Journey that will increase Brand Engagement and start an emotional journey between your brand and your customers before they receive your products or experience your services.

Pre-Delivery Customer Experience: The period between product purchase and product delivery.

Pre-Arrival Customer Experience: The period between service purchase and service render.

I recently traveled to Seattle and stayed at Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

Traveling for vacation or work can be a stressful experience. With packing, traffic, airport security, flights, baggage, transportation, and accommodation, it's likely that something along the journey may not go as planned and affect your trip. So, as much as it depends on me, I make an effort to prepare well before I travel.

A couple of days before my arrival, I got an email from a guest experience specialist. The timing of the email was spot on, and it worked. I opened it because I was eager to know what to expect before my arrival. And If there were a problem with my reservation, I would also have enough time to take care of it.

The email welcomed me to the hotel, had check-in and checkout times then asked me if there was anything that could be done to make my stay more comfortable.

When I read the email, I had two main concerns; the check-in time at 4 pm and transportation to the hotel from the airport.

Here is how I responded to the email;

"Hi, Shannon. Hope all is well with you and your family. My flight arrives at 12:15 pm which puts me at the hotel at around 2 pm. If I can check in at 2 pm, that would be great. Also, do you have a shuttle that runs to and from the airport?"

Here is the response from Shannon;

"Hi, Ed. Thank you so much for your response! I have gone ahead and noted the early arrival on your reservation and will do my best to have your room ready. Would you like an email or text once the room is available for check-in?"

Then she goes ahead and lays out my transportation options from the airport in complete detail;

"Unfortunately we do not have our own shuttle, but there are a couple of options for transportation from the airport to the hotel. I would recommend using Shuttle Express as they are the third party shuttle we partner with at SeaTac Airport. Once you've claimed your bag at baggage claim, head across the Sky Bridge by Alaska Airlines and head down one level to P3. They will get you on the first available shuttle for just $26 + tax per person one way. Taxi’s and Uber also are readily available; they will be the most direct way to get to the hotel."

She could have quickly told me that they don't have a shuttle, and I could use a Taxi or Uber, and this would be perfectly fine. But she went the extra mile and went into the details of my transportation options.

This response shows the empathy missing in a lot of customer experiences. Yes, you probably would get a response, but it will just be enough to get you by or keep you at bay.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and respond like you would like to be answered if you were in the exact situation.

Exercise the Golden Rule; Treat others as you would wish to be treated.

Before I arrived at the hotel, I was already anticipating a great experience during my stay, and if anything were to go wrong, which never happened, I would more likely give the hotel the benefit of the doubt.

On the day of arrival, while I was still at the airport, I got a text message update on my room;

"Good Morning! It's Shannon at Hyatt Regency Bellevue. I just wanted to let you know that your room is ready, feel free to check-in at any time."

Because of this excellent customer experience, I will be booking a Hyatt hotel the next time I travel.

The pre-arrival and pre-delivery customer experience is an excellent opportunity for brands to start a dialogue with their customers and build trust as well as get customers excited about products and services in advance.

For products, send out recipes, usage instructions, unboxing videos, quick start guides, customer forums, Q&A, etc. The goal here is to reach out to set expectations, guide and answer any questions your customers may have. By doing this, you will increase brand engagement and get your customers excited about the products they have purchased.

Do not up-sell other products at this stage; there will be other opportunities down the road to do so.

Provide relevant information about the product at hand and focus on helping the customers know how to use your product optimally. If they understand your product, they will be more comfortable using it when it arrives, and will quickly realize the value of their investment.

Let's face it; most people give reviews because they had a bad experience with a product or service. Average, expected or okay experiences don't compel customers to write reviews. Sure, they might come back for repeat business, but you will only have them but not their sphere of influence.

Providing a great customer experience is an excellent way to get customers to respond to your feedback requests. After my trip, I received an invitation to review my stay at the hotel, and I was more than willing to share my experience with other travelers.

TripAdvisorReview

When you give an excellent customer experience, you will get willing reviewers.

Give me something of value, and I will return the favor.

There are a lot of opportunities to get creative in this space, so If you need help building a Customer Experience Strategy, get in touch.

edKimbowa_Rephraze_portrait
Ed Kimbowa

As founder of Rephraze, Ed enjoys helping brands connect emotionally with their audiences through great experiences, beautiful stories, and brilliant design. Connect with him on Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram.

About Rephraze

We are strategists, designers, branding specialists, and visionaries who launch, activate and revive brands through strategic thinking, meaningful content, and first-class user experiences. We focus on simplifying brands to drive engagement, discovery, change, and relationships.