This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.
"I believe in the wisdom that you gain customers one by one, but you lose them in droves."
From "Becoming Trader Joe" by Joe Coulombe [Book]
I haven't gotten out on my motorcycle as much as I hoped this summer, but I was glad to take it for a short ride the other day. Taking it out got me reminiscing abo the experience of ordering it, having it delivered, and getting comfortable riding almost two years ago. The purchase experience was smoother than my first few rides, but the dealer missed an opportunity to heighten my excitement and motivate me to spend more money with them.
When I decided I wanted a motorcycle, two friends who ride recommended the Royal Enfield INT650 separately. Trusting their judgment, I didn't dive into extensive online research like I normally do and instead moved forward with limited Google searching.
Before taking my motorcycle safety course, I called the closest reputable dealer who sold Royal Enfield for information. When the time came to make the purchase, I contacted them again for a quote. The order process unfolded through several emails, with no upfront payment required. I would pay in person upon the bike's arrival.
To my surprise, the bike arrived at the dealer within two weeks. The salesperson sent me a photo of the bike, but it went to my spam folder. Luckily, he followed up with a separate email to notify me.
I was ecstatic but decided against riding it home, so I still had to wait. I drove about 45 minutes to the dealer for paperwork and payment, then coordinated delivery a week later. When I visited the showroom, I got to sit on the bike for the first time and realized it was also my first time seeing it in person. Fortunately, I loved it.
The period between ordering the bike and the bike showing up on my driveway was when I became motorcycle-obsessed. It was late October, so the end of riding season was coming quickly. Between YouTube videos, Reddit threads, and blog content, I was doing everything I could to get the feeling of riding without getting on the bike.
This period gave the dealer a golden opportunity to keep me engaged, excited, and ready to spend even more with them. An opportunity they didn't take. By this point, they already knew some important things about me:
While these attributes provided a decent understanding of me as a customer, I would have gladly filled out a brief survey if they wanted to know more. With that information, the dealer could have placed me in an automated flow of personalized, high-touch emails, maximizing the potential of our relationship.
Here are some suggestions that could have resonated with me:
1) Order Updates: Instead of leaving me waiting with an estimated time frame, an order confirmation with tracking updates would have kept my mind at ease. Even a confirmation email outlining what to expect would have sufficed.
2) Related Content: The anticipation of getting my motorcycle inspired me to immerse myself in relevant content and online communities I had never engaged with on Reddit and Facebook. From a podcast called "This Motorcycle Life," where experts and enthusiasts are interviewed, to videos of people riding my soon-to-be bike in picturesque locations, I was soaking it all in.
While I actively sought this content out, not everyone knows where to look. The dealer could have proactively opened my eyes to this world of content via email, positioning themselves as a guide. By doing so, they would have intensified my excitement and made me feel even better about my purchase.
3) Rider Tips: As a first-time rider, there was so much I didn't know about motorcycles, and I'm still learning. While waiting for my bike, I enjoyed exploring these gaps in knowledge and educating myself as much as possible.
Knowing that I was a first-time rider, the dealer could have provided a one-pager with essential rider tips, relevant links, and answers to common questions. This resource would have been helpful, strengthening my trust in the dealer and making me want to share my experience with everyone I know.
4) Relevant Products: Beyond motorcycles, the dealer offers several other products like parts, accessories, and apparel. Surprisingly, I wasn't aware of their eBay shop until recently. When I placed my order, my fondness of Royal Enfield only grew. I started seeking out Royal Enfield-themed accessories, apparel, and INT650 customizations. It's no surprise that Dana got me a Royal Enfield-themed Christmas ornament that year.
The dealer could have capitalized on my enthusiasm and offered complementary products to my bike. eBay is a great place to connect with the broader motorcycle community, but having a branded online store that allows customers to buy online or pick up in-store would have been super convenient. Imagine the joy of ordering a bunch of swag to pick up in person when I came to pay for the bike.
I was also eager to do some minor customizations on my bike. While I would have chosen to do them myself, the dealer could have offered to add new parts or customizations for a fee so they were ready when I received the bike. This level of personalization and service would have elevated the experience.
To offer customers even more products, the dealer could join major retailer Revzilla's affiliate program and make commissions on every sale. It would also be a great way to build trust with new customers.
5) Arrival: Obviously, the photo email that went to spam was not an ideal way to find out my bike was ready for pickup. While I appreciated the sentiment and enjoyed seeing my new motorcycle in the showroom, the email could have been more explicit about the next steps, including options for delivery. A text message would have been a nice touch, as well.
Instead of coordinating everything over email, a simple scheduling link would have made the process much more straightforward and hassle-free.
The concepts I've shared here extend beyond the motorcycle industry and apply to brands of all kinds. When customers make a purchase, they are excited and eager to receive the product and put it to use. This moment is an opportunity that many brands miss to keep customers engaged through relevant content, deepen relationships with thought leadership and education, and increase their value through complementary products or offers.
In addition to consuming all forms of motorcycle-related content, I also made several purchases while waiting for my bike:
These additional purchases totaled nearly $1,300 for me — a missed opportunity for the dealer to increase my value as a customer by almost 20% before ever receiving my bike. That was me. Imagine the value of a system like this across all different types of customers.
In short, a customer's journey with a brand shouldn't end at the purchase; it should be just the beginning.
Have you ever found yourself anxiously waiting for a special purchase to arrive? What elements would you have loved to experience during that waiting period to make it even more exciting?