Serenata Flowers Gets Personal

Customer Experience
Customer Experience

More than 80 percent of Serenata Flowers' customers say they will recommend the florist without hesitation. That enthusiasm is one driver of the company's impressive 20 percent month-over-month growth rate. The other is its commitment to delivering not just flowers, but also top-notch service.

Serenata Flowers, one of the largest independent online florists in the U.K., delivers across England, Scotland, and Wales. The company serves customers directly, instead of a traditional network approach. This allows the company to own the entire customer experience. And Serenata is dedicated to creating as dazzling a customer experience for those who send the flowers as for those who receive them. "We're seeing a lot of new customers," says James Saunders, Serenata's head of e-business development. "[So,] we're focusing on increasing retention and developing better customer service."

Serenata's strategy includes a heavy focus on communication. It works with technology firm Responsys on its email and text messaging efforts. On the promotion side, Serenata sends personalized emails to customers based on purchase frequency and customer profitability, as well as demographic information such as location, price range, and past-purchase behavior, Saunders says. The firm will also make recommendations based on past purchases.

The company also communicates with customers throughout the delivery process. "We have the basics down, like payment and delivery confirmation, but we've added more," Saunders says. "It's great for customers to know when flowers are dispatched, and to be notified when drivers receive the flowers and intend to drop them off."

Serenata also incorporated a reminder service, which keeps track of the special occasions that each opt-in customer has ordered flowers for, including holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, and other personal special occasions. "We send out emails before those days with reminders, and other emails with some of our bestsellers for those specific categories, so we can keep the customers coming," Saunders says. "If we have an order placed at a certain time, with no reminder on or about that date, then we still try to connect with the customer." Serenata sends gift messages to those customers to encourage them to opt in to the reminder service. So far about 3 percent of customers have opted into the reminder service. The company hopes to get to 5 percent within six months.

Taking its communication strategy to the next level, Serenata also reaches out to customers with text message reminders and offers directly to customers' cell phones and other mobile devices. The CIA World Factbook says the country has more mobile phones than people (more than 61 million), so it's imperative to reach customers the way they want to be reached. It's part of the strategy to drive satisfaction and retention. More than 45 percent of customers have provided mobile phone numbers as a contact point. Serenata is slowly rolling out alerts to customers.

Customer interactivity

Serenata's strategy works both ways. After every purchase, the company asks customers to fill out a survey via email. If a customer gives Serenata less than a perfect 10 in overall satisfaction, the company will try to pinpoint and fix the source of dissatisfaction. "When we send out these surveys, we're asking what can we do to make the customer experience better: Would you recommend us? If not, how can we change that," says Saunders. "We ask simple questions to get the best results."

In addition, the company recently added a blog called Pollen Nation to its Web site, where it teaches customers about different types of flowers for the seasons, as well as how to care for them properly. It provides interaction on the trusted advisor level, and allows for customers to share their views as well.

Serenata Flowers knows that to connect with today's customers it has to communicate on their terms in a way that's relevant. Customized email, mobile messaging, and personalized services are what bring customers back. And its growth rate and recommendation statistics show that the communication efforts are keeping its business in full bloom.