The 10,000 Emails per Year Customer Happiness Experiment

Many of my best experiences as a customer are those that are appropriately personal. From having the bartender at a neighborhood haunt recognize me to having my favorite restaurant give me a bottle of wine when they found out I was moving to a new city, there’s something really satisfying when there’s a shift from a faceless customer engaging in an impersonal financial transaction to it feeling like an interaction between two real people.

Having worked at numerous software companies, users too often tend to fall in the faceless bucket.  Thinking about this we started to wonder: what would happen if you took 30 minutes a day and personally emailed your 20 newest or best customers? What results would you see? What would you learn?

How To Do It

10,000 emails a year seems daunting, but 25 per day (say 20 new emails and 5 replies) seems a lot more manageable.

A few comments on how we’re doing this:

  • Use a customer dashboard to see new sign-ups or people who are particularly active, then make it a point to drop them an email when you have the chance.
  • If you don’t have a real-time customer feed, run a standard query at the end of each day that identifies the 20 folks you want to reach out to.
  • We personally use Yesware to template part of the emails, but then spend 30 seconds personalizing each one.
  • Make emails personal. Ask for feedback.  And don’t worry too much about making them perfect – the goal isn’t a finely crafted marketing message, but instead just a one on one interaction with a human being.

The key thing is establishing a disciplined process of outreach, as well as for the responses that come back. The more you do this, the quicker it all goes.

How You Measure It

The benefits from doing this are likely to show up on two potential fronts:

  1. Greater customer happiness: This is difficult to measure, but the basic idea is that giving users a better experience makes them more likely to stick around longer, be advocates for you, etc.
  2. Actionable knowledge: The second, less quantifiable, benefit is that your greater customer interactions give you significant opportunities to learn more about your business overall, whether that’s marketing (what messages resonated with the new user and led them to your site) to product (which parts of onboarding did they find confusing).

The beauty of the web is that you can easily test the impact of these emails via cohort analysis. Pick a few weeks and give this a shot, then, watch the performance of people in those weeks compared to other cohorts to see if you see improvements in frequency of logging in, depth of usage, and active time on site. Likewise, call a random set of customers and ask them about their onboarding process to get direct thoughts. Assessing the knowledge side of this is more difficult, but it can be a major benefit and at the end of the day you’ll have to make a call.

So – give it a shot. We are.  We’d love to hear more about your results. Follow us on Twitter or comment below if you’ve given this a try.

 

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