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Analysis

Brands Raising the Bar: 4 Examples of Outstanding Customer Experience

Learn how these four companies set themselves apart with extraordinary CX. The secret? Know what your customers expect

Lauren Dowdle
March 16 2019

It’s official; you’re in a relationship with your customers. Whether you’ve just started courting or have already met the family, you need to prioritize that relationship if you want it to last. We all know that customer experience (CX) is important to customers, and thus, to your brand. To drive this point home even more, check out these stats:

To illustrate how these statistics impact your bottom line, consider the findings from a recent Forrester’s survey: A one-point improvement in a CX Index score results in $873 million in total revenue for auto manufacturers (mass market), $332 million in hotels (upscale), and $278 million in wireless service providers. Even credit card providers, the last sector on their list, saw $9 million in revenue from the one-point improvement.

Brands must continue making customer experience a priority, as those whose strategies stand out from the rest get a bigger piece of the profit pie. Here are some noteworthy examples of brands providing extraordinary customer experience.

McDonald’s digital dining

As arguably the most iconic fast-food restaurant, McDonald’s continues to claim the largest market share of its industry in the United States. It’s also the most valuable fast food brand in the world, with an estimated value of $126 billion. Starbucks comes in as a distant second with $44 billion — so it’s clear McDonald’s is in a league of its own.

Not content to rest on their laurels, McDonald’s has incorporated self-order stations and other experience-boosting features at select locations. These upgrades include digital kiosks, mobile ordering/paying through their app, revamped dining spaces, brighter menu boards, and enhanced focus on hospitality. The brand plans to upgrade 1,000 stores with its self-service kiosks every quarter for the next eight to nine quarters. And in some areas, customers can even have their burger and fries delivered straight to their home.

These changes aren’t meant only to speed up the process, but also to provide an even more personalized and convenient customer experience. The Harvard Business Review found that the most important factor in customer loyalty is the reduction of customer effort. You can track your customer effort score (CES) using a Likert scale with a question like, “Please rate how much you agree with this statement: It was easy to get my issue resolved today.” Alternatively, give them a yes/no question asking if employees guided them toward an easy resolution, and giving them a chance to expound on their experience.

Southwest saves suitcase

They don’t offer meals, assigned seating, or many of the other bells and whistles you’ll find on some other major airlines, but Southwest Airlines has a cult following nonetheless. In fact, it took home the top honor from J.D. Power’s survey of North American carriers last year. Southwest also has the best customer experience in the airline industry, according to the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings — and placed 51st out of 318 companies across 20 industries.

Customer service and experience expert Shep Hyken shared an anecdote on how Southwest continues to earn these distinctions. After his daughter’s luggage was damaged on a flight, the airline offered to either repair it, or replace it with a new piece of luggage. No back-and-forth or convoluted procedures. They chose to directly take swift action in what could have easily been a stressful situation.

Trainline’s turnaround time

Big companies aren’t the only ones focusing on customer experience. Trainline Europe, headquartered in France, offers tickets and customer loyalty cards for European rail operators. What makes this company stand out? Their CEO pledged to resolve all customer issues and questions within two hours.

62% of companies never respond to customer service emails, and those that do take an average of 12 hours and 10 minutes to reply. It’s no wonder Trainline Europe’s customer experience stands out. A thorough FAQ page and live chat function on your site are a few ways you can provide immediate customer service.

Trader Joe’s takebacks

Trader Joe’s found a way to connect with its customers and leave them wanting more. The store ranked first among multichannel retailers in Forrester Research’s 2018 U.S. Customer Experience Index, and 87% of its customers said they have an easy shopping experience with the brand.

One illustration of this is their no-headache return policy. Customers can bring in an item that has gone bad before the promised expiration date and get a replacement or their money back— no questions asked. Small acts like that add up to improve customer experience, and beyond wearing Hawaiian shirts, employees are always ready to help.

Experience trumps expense

Consumers look for companies that value them and want to make their experience as positive as possible. They expect convenience, transparency, response time, and empathy in exchange for their business and loyalty.

While there is a cost involved in making those improvements across the board — through website upgrades, employee training, software, store upgrades, or a dozen other things — you can’t afford not to do it. Just ask companies like United Airlines or Starbucks who’ve had major viral blunders that cost them plenty (United lost $770,000 after Dr. David Dao was dragged from his seat in 2017).

Research what your customers value most and then focus on those areas. In the words of author and marketing consultant Roy H. Williams, “The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.”

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