One thing all successful brands have in common is strong customer experience management. Smart companies carefully craft the customer journey, making sure to delight, engage, and build relationships with new and returning customers alike.
Careful attention to strategy is key, and so is the ability to adapt as customer needs change - like the old song goes, 'it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing'.
With that in mind, let's take a look at a few examples of companies that knock user experience management out of the park, and also, some times when brands have been stuck in the dugout on the service front.
How often have you spent so much time waiting for customer support to answer your call that you've memorized the hold music? Amazon recognized this common bottleneck and implemented a Call Me option that lets customers trade long dial-in hold times for a quicker response. It's tough to say whether the Call Me feature actually shortens wait time, but as with so many customer experience strategies, perception is everything and no doubt accounts for its consistently high customer satisfaction scores.
Lesson: Take a look at your data analytics and feedback surveys to figure out where customer pain points are, then fix them. Not all changes require deep pockets or revamped websites - sometimes it's little touches like sprucing up your Facebook page to make it easier to find the customer service phone number. Small details can make all the difference.
Cloud computing company Rackspace is well known for its fanatical support. It's an approach that winnows its way into customers' hearts as part of the company's core value to "create customer experiences that create emotional attachment". Rackspaces uses metrics that track and measure customer loyalty by asking how likely they are, on a scale of 1 to 10, to recommend Rackspace to a friend or colleague. Known as a Net Promoter Score (NPS), it's a great way to assess customer loyalty and catch dissatisfaction early before it has a chance to fester.
Lesson: Metrics that help companies evaluate customer satisfaction in near real-time are often the most valuable form of measurement. "We track customer's responses to detect positive or negative shifts in their satisfaction, so we can reach out to a customer directly if need be. This way, NPS is not a static number. Instead, it's a real-time assessment of our company's performance and success," explains Rackspace COO Mark Roenigk.
From sleek product packaging to personalized service at in-store Genius Bars, Apple sets a high benchmark for customer experience management. Like Rackspace, the company uses NPS tactics to gauge user satisfaction but takes things a step further by using their results to transform customers into brand ambassadors.
"Apple does a better job than anyone at curating Promoters who have a big hand in growing their brand. Their promoters, advocates, 'fanboys', whatever you may call them are their single biggest growth channel," notes entrepreneur Chad Keck.
Lesson: When your customers tell you they love you, love them back. Reshare their social media content on your own channels, feature them in marketing campaigns, and nurture relationships with them for greater insight into how customers feel about your brand.
Amazon may be a hit with online shoppers, but its enterprise user experience hasn't always been up to snuff. Millions of customers were affected by a 36-hour Amazon Web Services outage in 2011, resulting in permanent data loss for some. It took days for the company to explain what happened and many customers were dissatisfied with the impersonal email Amazon sent to companies that lost data during the outage.
Lesson: Short of situations like forecasted weather events, many serious customer service issues can't be predicted before it's too late. Customers are far more likely to be understanding with swift, regular updates and personalized follow-ups that address their individual concerns.
Sometimes monitoring the user journey is less about replicating a successful customer experience path and more about managing expectations. Long known for its positive online computer purchasing experience, Dell used the same strategies when it launched its online plasma HDTV store. Customers were soundly disappointed and sales fell flat. Once Dell let Best Buy handle in-person sales, things turned around.
Lesson: Don't unilaterally apply the same customer experience strategies across all user touchpoints, especially if there's a significant change in variables. What works for one type of customer or demographic may be completely lost on another, translating into lost sales and even lost customers. The same goes for social media engagement: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all have very different cultures. Content that gets thousands of hits and shares on one channel may not do as well on others so tailor your messages for each platform.
Main image via rick seeney / Shutterstock.com