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Can Handwritten Notes Drive Customer Loyalty?

Making emotional connections are more important than ever for brands to acquire and retain customer loyalty.

But can handwritten notes resonate with customers and have a far-reaching impact in this day and age?

Loyalty360 will host a webinar titled, “Delivered: How Bond’s Handwritten Notes Drive Customer Loyalty,” on Sept. 12, 2017, at 1 p.m. EDT. The webinar will be presented by Bond.

Matt White, director of sales for Bond, will be the featured webinar speaker.

Bond combines tradition with technology, making it easy for businesses to send beautiful, thoughtfully crafted, handwritten notes to their customers. The company’s proprietary robotic technology takes the art of correspondence into the 21st century to help businesses deliver powerful, personalized messages that generate loyalty at scale.

Loyalty360 talked to White to get a preview of this upcoming webinar.

There is so much talk about making that emotional connection with customers. What are your views on this and how do your handwritten notes support those?  

White: Emotional connections with consumers are as important as ever. The digitization of how we communicate with one another, whether in our personal lives or in business, has created a perceived or, in some cases, literal lack of thoughtfulness. It’s so much easier to avoid a phone call from a loved one and opt to send a quick text. Businesses fall into that same practice of blasting impersonal and repeated messaging to consumers and those consumers know right away that they are part of some mass list…that they are not special or unique.

Whether it’s acknowledging a specific interaction, apologizing for a bad experience someone had with your company or thanking a customer for their patronage, there are many small, but powerful, moments in relationship-building that every business can create to ensure they stay top-of-mind with their customers. Human beings respond positively, and remember, when they are shown gratitude and appreciation. A simple note saying, “thank you,” can do far more for retention than any promo code you give them.

Customer experience is such a critical differentiator among loyalty marketers. How can thoughtfulness drive customer loyalty and be a competitive advantage? 

White: When a customer feels like your company has gone out of its way to recognize them, the “sticky” relationship has already begun because they now recognize that someone in your company took the time to connect with them as an individual, not as a transaction, and invest in the relationship on a personal level. That personal acknowledgment also shows that someone at your company took the time to learn a little bit more about them as a consumer. When you hold the door for someone and they walk straight by you without saying thank you, it can be annoying, right? However, if you hold the door and someone says thank you, even though that politeness is expected, you appreciate that they acknowledged you.

It’s no different than your interactions with a company or brand. People remember and care far more about how a company interacts with them than the product they sell. And in our work with Fortune 1000 brands, we’ve seen that thoughtfulness through the gesture of a personalized handwritten note actually drives positive and material bottom line results. Showing gratitude and being thoughtful doesn’t just feel good, it’s a smart financial decision.  

How do customers respond to these handwritten notes? 

White: The feedback we get from our clients is resoundingly positive. I’d be hard-pressed to find a single client of ours that has said their customers had a negative response from a handwritten note. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: Customers go out of their way to THANK those companies for the gesture. We actually conducted a study with our entire client base and found out that 70 percent of our clients and users have actually been thanked at least once by someone who’s received a Bond note from them.

When’s the last time a customer literally reached out and thanked a company for sending them a coupon or CRM email? Many of the notes we write for clients are about acknowledgement, inviting lapsed customers back into the store, or simply saying “thank you.” Some are to apologize for a bad customer service experience and offer a promo code to re-engage past patrons. Still, other institutions use it to ask for donations. There are positive ROI case studies for each of these uses that I will share in the webinar, and in almost all cases the customers who have been sent a note specifically reference that note as the reason they came back to a store, entered a promo code or gave a donation.

How have these notes driven customer loyalty? 

White: One of the most interesting and, perhaps, surprising things I will touch on during our upcoming webinar is the level of measurable positive impact these notes have at moving the financial needle for companies looking to increase engagement and loyalty with their customers. While sending handwritten notes is merely a brand value-based decision for some of the companies we work with who feel that it’s simply the right thing to do to stay in touch with their customers, other clients who are seeking measurable results from a handwritten note campaign often remark that the effort exceeded their expectations on all levels and KPIs.

The loyalty we see forming from this type of communication with a customer stems from the fact that when they open their note and see a specific, personal thing about themselves called out, it strengthens their opinion of and relationship with that company or service. Again, it’s all about the fact that to even send someone one of these notes requires effort and thoughtfulness. With the range of options available to everyone when shopping for basically anything, a meaningful effort like that is a reason to keep coming back and to remain loyal to a brand. 

People want to have an experience that stays with them. Do you agree with that and how impactful are the handwritten notes? 

White: I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but yes, I absolutely believe that people want a memorable experience. At the end of the day, the digital revolution and e-commerce have made the average purchasing experience somewhat commoditized so the big differentiator for companies moving forward has to be experiential. Handwritten notes, in this day and age, are an incredible and overlooked method of showing your consumer they matter to you. Think about what you pull from your mailbox when you check your mail.

Now think about the difference when you see a handwritten note in a pile of junk mail. This note already stands out before you’ve even opened it, and there is a perceived thoughtfulness behind it because someone bought a card and took the time to write something out to you. Not an email, not a text, but a letter that someone had to sit down, think about, and write, pen to paper. There’s a reason why, in an age where consumers are becoming as blind to newsletters and email offers as they are to banner ads, that the handwritten note has nearly a 100 percent open rate. People still want a meaningful connection with the world around them and handwritten notes enable companies to create that. And at Bond, we empower companies with one-of-a-kind technology to create that special connection on a 1:1 basis at true scale. 
 

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