Last year, my colleague Nick and I decided to conduct in-person interviews with some of our top e-commerce clients to get a better understanding of why they were using Bond. We wanted to learn what their challenges were, what the most important goals for their teams were, and how sending handwritten notes through Bond fit into this puzzle.
Cut to: Nick and I running all over Manhattan, hauling donuts and pastries and trying not to spill coffees everywhere before giving them to the companies that were kind enough to help us out. It was fun to see all the different office setups and put faces to names. It was difficult to find dairy-free treats in certain neighborhoods. But most of all, it was super interesting to hear what these folks had to say.
Basically, everyone we spoke to was tasked with figuring out one main thing: driving retention. We got a lot of responses with these sentiments:
Our goal is to maintain a one-on-one interaction with customers.
We need to be driving retention and repeat purchases.
Right now, our focus is top client retention and spend retention.
For those who have converted once or twice, how can we get them to come back?
They’d all come to similar conclusions about what will drive retention too: providing a personal experience. But it’s not easy. How do you provide a personal experience when someone is purchasing something online and feels anonymous? How do you show that there’s a human on your side of the communication? And even if you do figure out a solution, how do you make this scalable?
There’s not a lever you can pull and say ‘oh, lapse rate just cut in half!’
If relationships drive retention, how can we create more relationships?
Most people just assume that there’s not a person on the other side of the website.
What we want is to maintain a one-on-one interaction with customers, but this is challenged by the other thing we want, which is growth. How do we make this scalable?
But Nick and I wanted to know why they thought this would be the best way to help customers feel like they’d had a one-on-one interaction with an e-commerce company. Why does a piece of snail mail help create and solidify a relationship based online? We started to notice that the language they were using was highlighting the tangible aspect.
It’s just one step beyond the email, that personal touch.
With the personalization, they want to feel that relationship with us, and I think this just solidifies it.
If they’re just seeing the website, they don’t fully feel the luxury experience. There’s no physical location. There’s not something you can touch and feel.
Finally it dawned on us. These companies were using the tangible, handwritten notes to bridge the gap between the digital experience and the physical one. By sending something that’s not only personalized, but also that the recipient could touch and feel, they were creating the one-on-one experience. They were essentially reaching through the screen and creating a moment that required the recipient to pause, hold something in their hands, and think about the person who sent it.