How would you define customer experience? Is it how you make people feel? Or how easy you make it to work with you? Is it how responsive you are to questions or feedback? Your capacity to offer consistent delight? Is it your willingness to admit when you’re wrong and offer a remedy on the spot?
Attracting a customer is no longer enough. Experience is the new brand, so they say, and while that might take the form of a real-world retail show, it’s also about how easy it is to get up and going on new software you’ve downloaded, or how well your mobile experience functions.
Once in the fold, are you helping me get the most from our relationship? Do I feel part of a community? Is there any incentive to contribute?
We’ll be covering all the above as we set out each week to explore the many facets of customer experience. We’ll shine a light on the good and upbraid the bad with suggestions for improvement.
We’ll evaluate new ways of measuring customer sentiment, and identify companies that are using their real-time understanding of the customer to provide better service. Or not.
Brand marketers can say or do whatever they please. What matters most is the experience they provide their customer — whether in the real world or digitally, because we increasingly co-exist in both the real and virtual worlds. We’ll cover all aspects of the brand relationship from on-boarding to problem resolution. What’s the play factor? Who’s anticipating my needs before I even realize them? What does the “science” say?
It’s easy to find examples of poor customer experience to bash. So let’s start with a positive list. Here are six customer experiences that stood out for me — and why. (A unifying thread is knowledgeable staff and an approach toward customers that doesn’t feel cookie-cutter.)
1. Hawaiian Airlines From the warm aloha spirit in their emails to the ono grinds served on the plane itself, the experience one gets by flying Hawaiian makes them top choice. When is the last time you left a domestic airplane flight with a full stomach?
2. Zappos Shoes on demand and a no-questions-asked return policy. While I’ve kept a pair or two that didn’t fit through sheer inertia, Zappos makes it hard to shop for shoes anywhere else.
3. REI Found the camper in me when I didn’t even know it was there. The ease of the loyalty program and Garage Sales that let you resell gear you no longer want make it worth paying a little extra sometimes.
4. The Container Store Organization of objects is not my strong suit. Still, the displays and variety of colors and a store staff that really knows its product.
5. Prompt MD When you need healthcare pronto and want to know what each step costs along the way, this storefront medical chain provides it.
6. Hertz Empowered an agent at the point of return to provide an on-the-spot discount when told about a problem with the rental car.
Now it’s your turn. What are the best customer experiences you’ve encountered – and why? Please add to this list in the comments section. You can reach me @lauriepete on Twitter or email@example.com.