Have you ever wondered which companies today are able to deliver the most outstanding customer experiences?
With customer experience (CX) emerging as one of today’s most important business benchmarks, it’s useful to understand how winners and losers are determined by their ability to manage, measure, and improve CX.
And it can be inspiring to see which ones are ahead of the field — across multiple business categories and verticals — so that we can learn what they’re doing right and follow their example on the way to true customer centricity.
As they say: in order to be the best, you must learn from the best.
I decided to do some research and list down the companies that are often recognized as best-in-class, particularly in terms of putting customers first and managing their journeys. These are the ones that are able to manage feedback effectively and wow customers consistently, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, lower churn, increased revenue, and better overall business results.
While the list is by no means an exhaustive one, we hope you’ll be able to take what you can in order to inform and inspire your efforts to improve customer experience.
Category: retail, e-commerce
- One of the top 15 companies in Forrester’s US 2016 Customer Experience Index
- Has a School of WOW for inspiring leaders and front-line representatives with the Zappos customer service philosophy
Going above and beyond to put customers first
Online shoe and clothing shop Zappos is — as the company’s motto goes — a “service company that happens to sell shoes. And handbags. And more…”
The company has demonstrated this commitment to service time and again. In 2011, Zappos won a customer for life by saving a best man at a wedding from going barefoot. There was also that time when a traveler forgot to pack a favorite pair of shoes that she had bought from Zappos. She called Zappos’ help-desk concierge service, hoping to buy another pair, but the shop no longer had the shoes.
What did the Zappos team do? They found and bought the shoes from a rival store at a nearby mall, then hand-delivered the new pair to the customer. Free of charge.
Category: retail, supermarket chains
- No. 1 in the 2016 and 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings (the only company with an overall rating in the “excellent” category)
- No. 4 in the 2015 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)
- One of the top 10 companies in the 2016 Temkin Customer Service Ratings
Building a people-first culture to shape customer experience
Florida-based Publix is a family-run supermarket chain and one of the largest employee-owned companies in America.
It may not necessarily have the mythical customer service stories of Zappos or the touted low, low prices of Walmart, but the company’s people-first culture proves that your transformation into a customer-centric organization doesn’t always have to be radical or disruptive.
Instead, the company focuses on creating an environment where all employees (literally) have a stake in meeting customer needs and expectations. The fact that Publix is employee-owned has a major impact on its ability to deliver consistently positive customer experiences. (It also helps sustain the company’s impressively low full-time employee turnover of 3.2 percent.)
According to Forbes’ Brian Solomon, “Publix has thrived by delivering top-rated service to its shoppers by turning thousands of its cashiers, baggers, butchers, and bakers into the company’s largest collective shareholders.”
- No. 1 airline in the 2016 Temkin Experience Ratings
- No. 9 (and the top airline) in KPMG Nunwood’s US Customer Experience Excellence Analysis 2016
Creating moments of magic with customers
Southwest Airlines is one of the savviest customer-first brands — especially when it comes to building service excellence, applying personalization techniques, and creating moments of magic with customers.
Take this example: a Southwest passenger arrives at her destination and sees that her luggage is damaged due to mishandling. So she walks into the Southwest office, expecting long lines and paperwork.
But this doesn’t happen. There’s only one customer ahead of her, and when it’s finally her turn, Southwest offers to either repair the luggage handle or replace the whole thing with a brand new piece — immediately, on the spot.
Southwest’s office actually had a room stocked with all types of new luggage.
Wrote Shep Hyken for CustomerThink: “What started out as a moment of misery turned into my favorite customer service experience: a moment of magic.”
“Southwest Airlines has a long-standing reputation as a different kind of airline – in a good way,” added Social Media Today’s Dan Gingiss. “Whether it’s the friendly flight attendants, low prices, or even the cheeky napkins (one of them says, ‘I’d be happy to hold your drink’), customers have come to expect a refreshing and fun experience aboard a Southwest plane.”
Category: insurance, financial services
- No. 1 in 2016 Temkin Trust Ratings, No. 4 in 2016 Temkin Web Experience Ratings
- No. 1 in Forrester’s US 2016 Customer Experience Index
- No. 1 in KPMG Nunwood’s US Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) rankings
- Top-ranked Company in Net Promoter Index of Customer Loyalty (2009 to 2016)
Leveraging technology to power customer experiences and foster trust
Texas-headquartered financial services group USAA (United Services Automobile Association) blazes a trail in a competitive industry that’s heavily predicated on consumer trust (but which is ironically often perceived as lagging in the trust department).
One of the keys to USAA’s customer experience success is in the way it harnesses technology. Catering to military veterans, the company offers its customers products and services like biometric authentication technology on its cloud-based mobile app, an innovative fraud alert system, a MyAccount functionality for customers to track (and receive updates on) insurance claims, messaging bots powered by natural language processing and machine learning technology, and an enhanced contact center infrastructure, among others.
USAA uses technology to make their customers’ lives easier and simpler — not more complicated. The company’s innovations also help facilitate financial security and promote trust across multi-channel customer interactions.
Category: retail, department stores
- One of the listed retail companies in the 2016 Temkin Experience Ratings
- Has an employee handbook concentrated in the company’s “One Rule”: “Use good judgment in all situations.”
Managing customer interactions with great attention to detail
Like Zappos, luxury department store chain Nordstrom is known for stories in which the company went above and beyond to provide the best possible customer experience. What stands out from these stories is the company’s legendary attention to detail.
Their employees have searched for hours to find a customer’s lost diamond, replaced an out-of-stock coat, rung up purchases without making customers stand in line, and quickly replaced rain-sogged boots ruined by a third-party carrier with a brand new pair. Nordstrom customer service staff are also trained to answer calls on no later than the second ring, and are available 24/7 via live chat, e-mail, phone, and social media.
Commitment to customer experience
These leading companies demonstrate the kind of commitment required to deliver outstanding customer experience. By attempting to see through your customers’ eyes, and by linking their experience to your business results, you can, like these CX leaders, consistently create moments of magic and delight, and deliver experiences that your customers will love.