We are all human, and we all make mistakes – even the biggest brands in the World.
Could this be the year of customer apology gifts – where you respond, track and measure how customer apologies retain business?
Getting the measure of your apology metrics.
The ideal scenario will be that a customer receives an apology and responds positively, either directly- through a sale, a change of heart on account closure, or a positive response on customer feedback surveys. However, there are then indirect measures that also need to be considered, such as how they speak about you to friends and family or the likelihood of them returning in the future. It’s a vast melting pot of sentiment, and getting a handle on ROI of apology gifts can feel as tricky as holding onto a slippery fish.
Here are a couple of solutions for an apology gift campaign or a longer term apology programme
Tracking sentiment towards your brand
Tracking sentiment is a key component to measuring the success of your customer apology programme. You can use tools such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite to track mentions of your brand name and capture any negative sentiment that could indicate an unhappy customer. If you really want to investigate further, you can look into digital footprint trackers, which tie and email or phone number to social media presence, indicating who is saying what about you.
Tracking AOV and order frequencies as a baseline – and measuring this against customers who have complained and received an apology gift
You can segment these groups of customers in your CRM to measure their order values and frequencies compared to similar groups who haven’t complained. This will help you determine if there has been a change in the customer’s behaviour after they have received an apology gift.
A word of caution here, which we will tread delicately around – that the customer does feel that they have been wronged. An apology gift can go a long way to repairing that relationship, but it may be damaged. A customer may indeed tail off orders, or you might need to track them over a full year before they ‘move on’ from the incident.
Include apology customers in other specialised programmes
As it’s 2023, your loyalty programmes are unlikely to be one size fits all, and ideally, your data will be allowing you to tailor the % off to the customers in your database and to showcase relevant products to customers most likely to convert. Ensure that your apology customer is getting the most generous offers. It’s another lever to pull to help refine what’s happening.
How to track if an apology programme is working
By tracking sentiment, AOV and frequency of orders and segmenting customers into groups who have received an apology against those who haven’t you will be able to measure if your apology programme is working.
It’s important to look at this holistically – review the direct response from customers, but also keep in mind that apology gifts are an investment to retain customers in the long term and that there may be less tangible ROI increases. It’s a case of doing what’s right for your business and what’s right for the customer – so take time to track data carefully, so you can understand if you’re on the right track.
It’s also important to do things even if you feel they are untrackable, or the answer to if it was a success hasn’t made itself clear yet.
According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of all purchase decisions are made subconsciously. Research also shows that emotions play a huge role in the subconscious decision-making process. At the same time, detractors (people who have had a bad experience) are twice as likely to speak out, than promoters – people who have had a good experience.
This means that it’s vital to ensure you show your customers that you care and are willing to go the extra mile – even if they aren’t going to be jumping up and down about it in the immediate future.
Apologies are an investment in customer retention and loyalty – ensure there’s a line for them in your marketing budget this year.