A lot of blogs on customer experience focus on evergreen brands like Disney, Walmart, Amazon, Airbnb, Netflix and other amazing companies like them. I myself have often posted about their best practices because they do offer truly inspiring insights and cases. But today, I want to aim our attention at the somewhat more hidden gems: companies that create a fantastic customer experience but tend to stay below the radar. I hope you’ll enjoy these examples and will get some inspiration from them.
American grocery store chain Trader Joe’s is an incredible example of a company where a fantastic employee experience results in a stunning customer experience. Most of us automatically think of Zappos in this category, but Trader Joe’s is just as inspiring in the matter. They offer fantastic benefits and growth opportunities to team member and truly empower them to offer warm, personal and one of a kind experiences to customers. A well-known example is how a shop manager delivered groceries in 30 minutes to the 89-year-old father of a daughter who had called them because he was stuck in a snow storm. And all of that while the store usually doesn’t deliver.
American bank holding Capital One believes that servant leadership, communication and transparency are crucial for customer experience. Its leaders actively focus on their teams’ growth opportunities and wellbeing to inspire them to take better care of their customers. What’s more, leaders regularly listen to or read customer feedback, and share their insights with their teams, helping them to improve.
I also really love their “Everyday Hero” concept, where, each week, they share a story with the entire organization about someone who has done something extraordinary for a customer. Here is a fantastic example: One of their customers called in a panic because her 87-year-old husband, who suffers from dementia, was missing. She needed to know what his last charge was in order to find out where he was. Capital One agent Alysa told her that it was at a gas station, just five minutes before their call. Then Alysa asked Mrs. K if she’d been in touch with the sheriff’s department and she did, but when they found out that he was in another county at this point, Alysa called that county’s sheriff’s department and briefed them about what happened. Alysa also stayed on the line with Mrs. K until her neighbour arrived so she wasn’t alone at home and followed up the next day to find out if Mr. K was safe at home. If that’s not going above and beyond, I don’t know what is.
Online retailer of prescription (sun)glasses Warby Parker is known for offering an extremely smooth customer journey, with flawlessly automated interactions and frictionless experiences combined with warm human interventions. What I perhaps love most about them is how they are also continuously striving to become a partner in the life of their customers. They don’t just offer great eyewear products, but they are moving into the healthcare space as well, with vision care and eye exams. Creating an “offer you can’t refuse”, they also follow a Saving the World strategy ever since the company was founded with their ‘Buy a pair, give a pair’ program: for each pair of glasses that is sold, they procure a pair to those in need.
Low cost airline JetBlue’s VP of Customer Support Experience, Operations, and Recovery, Frankie Littleford, explained that it is their mission “to bring humanity back to air travel”. We all know how the airline industry is battling many frictions. So focusing on an amazing human experience is indeed a smart way to get back into the hearts of customers. Fun fact: they even have a Customer Bill of Rights:
JetBlue is dedicated to inspiring humanity. We strive to make every part of your experience as simple and as pleasant as possible. But we know there can be times when things do not go as planned. If you’re inconvenienced as a result, we think it is important that you know exactly what you can expect from us. That’s why we created our Customer Bill of Rights. These Rights will always be subject to the highest level of safety and security for our customers and crewmembers.
I also love the example of their “People Officer”: someone who surprises customers on flights and in airports with rewards and gifts. There’s the example of him hosting a game of trivia on a flight, announcing that the winners would receive flight vouchers and giving away a dozen tickets. Another time, he handed out refreshments and donuts to customers waiting at a long check-in line, and even gave away free flight tickets to 60 different cities.
Lack of safety is unfortunately still one of the most important forms of friction in ride-hailing and Grab has a fantastic approach in the matter. They keep investing in improving user safety and experience. They for instance use artificial intelligence and facial recognition to verify both the drivers as well as the passengers to make the experience safe for the both of them. Another example is how the “Share My Ride” option in the Grab app allows passengers to share their ride details with loved ones, which is not just convenient (so they know when you will arrive) but also a form of reassurance for people who aren’t feeling comfortable when traveling at night. Trip monitoring technology, then, is used to track deviations from the planned route, as well as unplanned stops that will trigger a notification on the passenger’s app to check if he or she is fine. Grab also uses telemetric data to detect crashes and trigger an emergency call for an ambulance. With this data-driven philosophy, Grab is permanently on the lookout for how it can offer more innovative, safer, more convenient and ever more fantastic customer experiences. Want to learn more about the customer experience at Grab, don’t forget to check out my article from last week.
Chinese Luckin Coffee offers frictionless, cost-efficient and consistent experiences. They are big believers in the mobile-first concept, enabling orders through their app. Customers can pick up their orders in-store or request a delivery, if they prefer that. Luckin Coffee uses artificial intelligence to monitor customer behaviour and have the coffee delivered to their door in less than 30 minutes. Most the stores are pickup-only but there are “relax” stores as well where customers can drink their beverage without being disturbed.
Their mobile-first approach is a great example of my “when digital becomes human” concept: allowing store staff members to provide real value to customers rather than just ordering and paying. And for those who prefer speed to the human experience, there’s the “luckin coffee EXPRESS” stores with smart unmanned coffee machines and the “luckin popMINI” smart vending machines, further increasing the density of its network. It’s a fantastic digital convenience plus human warmth approach.
Wells Fargo is always looking for ways to humanize its brand, build trust and deliver quality customer experiences. As a true Partner in the Life of their customers, they for instance help them make better decisions about their finances with the Control Tower app. They launched the latter when they found out that nearly a third of Americans have ongoing subscriptions or memberships for services they haven’t used for over a year. The app addresses this problem by making it very easy for customers to keep track of recurring payments and maintain better control over them, even cancelling them when necessary. Another Partner in Life example is how they offer resources, training and inspiration to small businesses with its ‘Wells Fargo Works for Small Business’ initiative: included in the initiative are videos, articles and other information designed to help business owners start, run and grow a business.
Clothing company Stitch Fix has a truly inspiring data driven approach to create amazing experiences for its customers. It analyses data from surveys, industry trends and social media profiles to send the most matching and personalized clothes to its subscribers. Though they have pivoted away from their subscription only approach, they still have a unique business model where clothing is hand selected by expert stylists for a $20 styling fee which is credited towards anything the customer keeps. What makes them so strong at the customization part is the direct customer feedback of their business model: when customers decide which items they want to keep, the company and its stylists receive automatic feedback about what they did and didn’t like. And each customized box is also followed up with a survey, providing even more input. This is a very powerful example of customer feedback having a direct impact on the experience.
So these are just a few examples of non-obvious customer experience kings. What are your favorites?