January 22, 2002, 12:00 AM

Telling customers what’s up increases their loyalty, says Norm Thompson

Automatically notifying customers about events that affect their orders reduces calls to the call center and creates more loyal customers, Norm Thompson Outfitters reports.


Automatically notifying customers about events that affect the status of their orders not only reduces calls to a direct merchant’s call center, it also creates more loyal customers, Hillsboro, OR-based Norm Thompson Outfitters, which operates a catalog and a web site, reports.

Using automated notification technology from Par3 Communications of Seattle, Norm Thompson has been informing customers of unusual circumstances surrounding their orders since the fall of 2000. A survey of customers who have received notification found that nearly 50% said receiving useful notifications makes it more likely that they will order from Norm Thompson than from other companies in the future. Likewise, almost 50% also said their perception of the company has changed after receiving the personalized notification. 90% expressed a positive reaction to the notification; 96% said the quality of the message was acceptable to them.

"Our customers are telling us the service influences who they do business with -- and as a marketer, that speaks directly to enhancing loyalty and retention,” said Steve Jones, Norm Thompson`s vice president of marketing. “The fact that it simultaneously helps us control the number of inbound calls to our call center makes it a must-have."

The PAR3 Intelligent Response Platform is integrated with multiple Norm Thompson data systems, meaning the notifications are automated, highly detailed and tailored for each customer. The technology also allows customers to respond to the message, including connecting to the customer service department, purchasing a product, or adding personal comments and forwarding the information to others. The customer survey, however, reported that 95% of recipients did not contact the customer call center after the notification.

The results also showed that 70% of recipients prefer to receive voice messages rather than text.

Furthermore, Norm Thompson reports that its best customers want to receive notifications. Those signing up for the notification service have purchased an average of 18 orders from catalogs or the Internet in the last year.

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