Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to nurture most of our relationships through digital means.

Business relationships are no exception, as interactions with customers, partners, and prospective clients are more reliant on the Internet than ever before.


The Zoom happy hours, virtual team bonding nights, and remote conferences were fun while they lasted, but a new dawn is on the horizon as people increasingly seek relief from digital fatigue.


What you may not realize is that now is the exact right time to dramatically improve your customer experience.


A study by Walker reported that 2020 was the year where customer experience eclipsed pricing and product as the key differentiating factor between brands, and this trend is not about to die any time soon.


Whether or not you’re ready to sharpen your business’s CX, it’s certainly what your customers are expecting.

But to truly delight them, you’d be wise to explore non-digital strategies as we all try to recover from the digital overload resulting from WFH and lockdowns.


Don’t know where to begin? Here are 5 ideas for going beyond digital-only relationships and getting your CX better than ever.

Get Gifting

Luxury Offers Gift My Client

Memory plays a key role in an exceptional customer experience. You want your customers, partners, and prospects to fondly recall the ways they’ve engaged with your brand long after interactions have taken place.


One way to secure a spot in customers’ happy memories is through corporate gifting.


In this survey conducted by Packed with Purpose, over 2 in 3 respondents said that receiving a “memorable” gift from a business led to a strengthening of their relationship with that business, and 1 in 3 respondents said they’d be more likely to spend more after receiving such a gift.


Note the wording here: the gifts mentioned in the survey were “memorable.”


Not all gifts are created equal, so you’d best hold off on gift cards because they are no longer a viable option (plus, depending on where you are gift cards can be considered as cash equivalents under the law, and could cause unnecessary risk for those who receive them ).

If you have the opportunity to truly wow your customers, why not do it?


A top-tier example of a company imparting memorable, personalized gifts is TD with its “TD Thank You Account.” In this 2016 campaign, TD customers across North America were surprised at their local ATMs and bank branches by a sincere thank you message from TD, accompanied by a delightful, personal gift.

In the world of client gifting, TD’s campaign was a slam-dunk. It’s plain in the customers’ emotional response to these gifts that TD succeeded in truly making them feel special.


This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to do gifting the right way. Ultimately, TD’s campaign resonates because the messages and gifts came from the heart–when it comes down to it, this is what your customers need from you.


Remember, thoughtful, personal gifts will win the day.


P.S. Don’t forget a handwritten note for an added personal touch.
P.P.S. Check out our corporate gifting platform, Gift My Client.

Think VIP Events & Experiences

Think VIP Events & Experiences

Experiences are everything.


As Marshal Cohen of the NPD Group believes, people are spending more on doing things as opposed to buying things:

Consumers [are displaying a] willingness and propensity to spend but not purchase.

It’s not about acquiring things — it’s about doing things. [People are seeking] adventure, memories and [want to] capture the moment. It’s about sharing what you’ve done — not necessarily what you bought.

Marshal Cohen

Experiences are something we’ve all been craving even more while in lockdown. As soon as it’s safe to do so, people will grasp at whatever chances they get to drop some cash on experiences, such as the so-called revenge trips.


Could your business be of service here?

Help your customers find and access these unique, exclusive (in other words, Instagrammable) experiences. By making your customers feel like a VIPs, you’ll become the MVP of their contact list.


The “VIP Experience” offering is often threaded into loyalty programs to reward a company’s most valued customers.


This not only strengthens the bond between you and your top customers by giving them something in exchange for their continued loyalty, but it can also impress potential leads who are seeking that special treatment as well.


For example, Morgan Stanley’s loyalty program, MS Reserved Living & Giving, offers exclusive discounts on first-class experiences like National Geographic expeditions, luxury bike tours, and yoga class memberships.

With these experiences, MS Reserved is able to embed itself within the lives of its clients, taking itself beyond wealth management into the realm of “lifestyle” brands.


If you’re not sure where to begin, consider utilizing your pre-existing business connections to create memorable VIP experiences for your customers.


In early 2020, international hotel company Accor leveraged its partnership with Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (PSG) to offer its most loyal guests a true once-in-a-lifetime experience. With the launch of the Accor Live Limitless loyalty program, Accor offered its top members the “limitless challenge” of meeting and hanging out with soccer players from PSG.


The point of the VIP experience is to highlight how much you value your customers by offering them what no other business will.


Associating your business with incredible, unique experiences will incentivize them to continue their loyalty and then some.


Need help with your CX? Check out our Customer Experience Strategy and Services.

Involve Your Influencers

Before you continue reading: have you identified your influencers?


Not all of us are able to secure a deal with Charli D’Amelio, and that’s okay.

You may be glad to know that beyond the social media celebrities. There are actually 6 types of influencers — and some of the smaller-scale influencers, such as micro-influencers, may actually do a better job of influencing your target audience.


There’s lots of ways to utilize your influencers beyond shelling out millions of dollars for a sponsored Instagram post, ways that can more profoundly improve your CX.


Consider getting your influencers deeply involved in a special project.


Take British Airways and its UnGround Innovation Lab project, in which 100 of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest were invited to a plane ride with the purpose of proving that great ideas are made when great people come together.


Those on board came up with over twenty ideas in the space of five hours, ideas that would help individuals working in STEM to find opportunities to showcase their skills.

UnGround Innovation Lab project
UnGround Innovation Lab project

Rather than just asking top Silicon Valley professionals to endorse the company, British Airways took care to use their (massive) brainpower to produce something with a greater impact than an advertisement.


The project’s focus wasn’t even on British Airways itself, but it still led to an increased positive brand perception for having facilitated a thoughtful and productive experiment.


Plus, allowing influencers to go beyond the role of brand spokesperson can get them more engaged and more excited, which will be clear in the content that they push out.


In another influence marketing campaign by BONDAi, Acura invited influencers relevant to their target audience to drive their newest line of TLX cars on a race track.


The influencers got to test drive a new car and got a whole bunch of exciting content from the trip. Immersing these influencers in the experience allowed them to produce richer content that generated millions of impressions in Canada alone.


These examples prove that it pays to do something out of the ordinary.

Don’t be afraid to break new ground with your influencer campaigns–your influencers will thank you for it by pushing out content that’s more engaging and authentic than your run-of-the-mill sponsored post.


As a bonus, your customers will think you’re pretty damn cool!

Create an Advisory Council

Why You Need Context When It Comes to Big Data and AI

Brand advocates are the most valuable type of customers your business can have (FYI, they’re the ones who actually care enough to see your brand improve).

Why not take the opportunity to involve them further?


Advisory Councils (or Advisory Groups, Advisory Boards, etc.) are formal groups of brand advocates created by a business for the purpose of getting feedback, ideas, and content from those who are loyal to your brand and true believers in your product.


The magic of brand advocates is that they will sing your brand’s praises to their peers without even needing an incentive.


If you know who your advocates are, that’s a slam dunk already. But now, imagine the benefits of rounding them up, getting them to bounce ideas off one another, and incentivizing them.

The result is the feedback equivalent of solid gold.


Note that incentive doesn’t have to mean cash payment. Take the example of ECHO Inc.’s User Advisory Group (UAG), which is an integral part of its green industry community platform, ECHO Means Business.

In the six years since its inception, the ECHO Means Business UAG has played a key role in helping to revamp ECHO’s brand perception by providing authentic content and invaluable feedback to ECHO.


In exchange, these industry pros benefit not from cash payments but from peer-to-peer mentorship, networking opportunities, and samples of early product releases.


Other companies have seen success with employing Advisory Councils for a specific business purpose. Salesforce has recently employed a new Advisory Board to support its growth in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) and has previously employed similar Boards to help with the growth of specific products.


The goal of Salesforce’s Advisory Board is to combine the expertise of seasoned professionals from a variety of industries across several nations as it seeks to enter new markets.


Kick your social listening into high gear with an Advisory Council.

Giving these customers a say could revitalize your overall CX–you’ll have insiders help you interpret what the larger customer base needs on a regular basis.


What’s more valuable than that?

Network It

Social Media Lounge at the GIE Expo

Many of us are familiar with the saying, “your network is your net worth.” We’re willing to bet many of your customers are aware of this as well.


In-person networking events are another COVID casualty, and let’s face it–the experience just isn’t the same over Zoom.

The appeal of the networking experience is in those informal, spontaneous interactions that are impossible to replicate virtually.


Sponsoring or hosting a networking event for your customers–in person, when possible–could be another way to level up your CX strategy.


You might be thinking that your customer base isn’t typically engaged enough to benefit from a networking session. The catch is that actually providing customers the opportunity to network with one another could dramatically increase overall customer engagement.


When looking for new ways to engage its membership, the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) launched its Powered by Payroll networking event.

This week-long celebration of payroll professionals promotes peer-to-peer communication and mentorship between members across the country, a unique opportunity for those in the industry.


A previously unenthused membership base was completely turned around. In its first year, Powered by Payroll generated 10x more advocacy campaign content from CPA members, and engagement quadrupled compared to past events.


You might be thinking that planning and hosting a formal networking event sounds like a whole lot of time, effort, and resources. Fair enough, but you have alternatives.


Here’s a low-hanging fruit: try leveraging pre-existing events by sponsoring just one segment. This way you benefit from the presence of guests who would have been there for the main event anyways!


For example, ECHO capitalized on a national green industry trade show, GIE+EXPO, by hosting a Social Media Lounge. They blocked off an area of the event where attendees could relax, take a break from the regularly scheduled program and, of course, mingle with one another.


ECHO also used this chance to reinforce its ECHO Means Business community by interviewing some well-known green industry pros and giving away swag and prizes.


ECHO’s Social Media Lounge proves that networking events don’t need to be so formal in order to be effective. And if you want to take your event further creatively, you’ll find there are plenty of fun, unique ways to allow your customers to network.


One such concept is the silent disco, where attendees can listen to music together through their own devices. You get the energy and excitement of a regular party, with the convenience of being able to strike up a conversation at any place on the dance floor simply by removing your headphones.


The bottom line is that inviting your customers to networking events can contribute handsomely to your CX strategy. All you really need to do is provide the space for your customers to mix with one another, and the rest will come together.