Many Blessings and Their Meaning, Parashat Vayechi, Shai Azoulay
Customer retention is a consistently burning issue among managers and business owners, certainly in the startup and hi-tech worlds. As consumer spending continues to stall and startups are tightening their belts, the last thing any business can afford is to lose existing customers. To make sense of it all, here are 5 key customer retention principles every startup must master in order to inspire brand loyalty, brought to us directly from Parashat Vayechi.
Customers don’t just up and leave for no reason
After a lifetime of misery, Joseph finally finds prosperity in Egypt. He starts a new career, marries an Egyptian woman, and thanks God for helping him forget all his trouble:
And Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, for "God has caused me to forget all my toil and all my father's house." And the second one he named Ephraim, for "God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."
Joseph is not the first to jump ship after being treated poorly. Although it’s hard to imagine a startup throwing a customer in jail, but we can definitely sympathize with customers who decide to leave a brand because of sub-par customer service, unpleasant shopping experience, a product that no longer fits their wants and needs, or knowing that the brand values are not in line with their own.
Joseph’s customer journey
Years later, when Jacob arrives in Egypt, he launches a customer retention campaign targeted exclusively at Joseph. First, he sends him on a birthright trip to the holy land:
When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called his son Joseph and said to him [...] do not bury me now in Egypt. I will lie with my forefathers, and you shall carry me out of Egypt, and you shall bury me in their grave."
Next, Jacob tells Joseph about the values, traditions and history of his forefathers and about the startup they founded all those years ago:
And Jacob said to Joseph, "Almighty God appeared to me in Luz, in the land of Canaan, and He blessed me. And He said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful and cause you to multiply, and I will make you into a congregation of peoples, and I will give this land to your seed after you for an everlasting inheritance.'
And for the cherry on top, Jacob endows Joseph with not one but two blessings, one for each of his sons:
So he blessed them on that day, saying, "With you, Israel will bless, saying, 'May God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh".
5 elements of customer loyalty
In one fell swoop, Jacob lays down all the key principles of customer retention:
Engagement. Jacob designs a customer journey that has intrinsic value. In the startup world, the idea of meaningful engagement becomes a question of how to deliver value throughout the customer journey, rather than asking the customer to wait until the end result.
Personalization. The more a customer feels their journey has been personally designed for them - to their personality, preferences, behavior and history with the brand - the more their emotional attachment to the brand will grow. There’s a reason why Jacob didn’t just send Joseph on a simple nature walk but rather craft an inner journey for him where he will meet himself and make peace with his past.
Sense of community. When Joseph travels to Israel to bury his father he is surrounded by friends, family and business partners. This nurtures a sense of security, affinity and love within him, giving him the confidence to carry on his actions. The sense of community is an essential part of customer loyalty, so it’s important to make use of every opportunity to meet customers in their natural community, while extending and building new connections across their customer life cycle.
Shared values. Any brand whose values are unclear or immoral risks losing customers, especially Gen Y and Z. We must therefore never shy away from stating our opinions and stand strong in our beliefs, just as Jacob proudly states God’s vision for the people of Israel.
Upgraded value offer. If each of Jacob’s sons received 1/12 of his inheritance, then Joseph received 1/6 - one blessing for each of his sons. Jacob realizes that in Egypt, Josephs has grown accustomed to a new standard of living. To win him back he would have to seriously boost the portfolio of benefits and offerings of his brand. And so should every startup. Ask yourself - do our products, interactions, benefits and customer loyalty programs fit the new world and the new needs and wishes of our customers?
Sure enough, by the end of the parasha, Joseph returns to the bosom of God and even makes his siblings swear that when the day comes they will bury him in Israel, as they did his father. More than a loyal customer, Joseph has been converted into Israel’s top brand ambassador. And with customers like Joseph, any startup's future is guaranteed.