Customer experience has one meaning: It’s the interaction between a brand and a customer. And for the most part, businesses large and small want a similar outcome from their customer service experience. They want to put a smile on their customers’ faces, send them home happy, make sure they come back again, and get them to tell their friends and their friends’ moms.
Getting to that happy place, however, well that number is like the universe—infinite, forever expanding and changing, quite easy to get lost in (don’t forget to turn a blinker on at least!), and different for every company.
Nevertheless, that customer experience strategy is largely how a company stays relevant and competitive in its market all the while keeping it from going a drift (is he using another space reference? I’ve been watching too much Battlestar Galactica!) in the mayhem that is running a large business, or any other-sized business for that matter.
The key is mapping out that strategy. It’s not just putting a blanket statement out there in the world saying, “So and so business wants its customer to be happy by providing the utmost quality service.” Lame. Plus, the work “quality” is so overrated. What did your English teacher always tell you? Show it, don’t say it!
We looked at three household brands to get a glimpse of how they map out their customer experience.
Video-streaming behemoth Netflix has a great tale you may have already heard of that hits the mark on how to address customer issues. In 2013, a Denver-based Netflix customer service representative started a chat with a Netflix customer who was having an issue.
Customer: I have a problem to report
Netflix rep: This is Cpt. Mike of the good ship Netflix, which member of the crew am I speaking with today?
Customer: Greetings Cpt., Lt. Norm here
Customer: Engineering has a problem to report
Netflix: Lt. what seems to be the problem?
And the two carried on like this, staying in Star Trek character for the entire chat conversation until “Lt. Norm’s” problem was resolved.
(You can read the entire chat thread on the Huffington Post site, here.)
From the Huffington Post article about this awesome example of customer service:
“We really allow support agents to be themselves,” Brent Wickens, Netflix’s vice president of global customer support told The Huffington Post in a recent interview. “They’re not restricted in any way. If somebody wants to talk to somebody in character, we encourage this.”
Netflix is on a mission to be the world’s leader on video streaming. They want to provide its customers with the best cinematic options and a constantly-improving interface that is easy for customers to use. Here’s the brand’s mission statement that guides the company as a whole, as well as their customer service experience:
"Our core strategy is to grow our streaming subscription business domestically and globally. We are continuously improving the customer experience, with a focus on expanding our streaming content, enhancing our user interface and extending our streaming service to even more Internet-connected devices, while staying within the parameters of our consolidated net income and operating segment contribution profit targets." (10-K Item 1)
And they’ve even considered the brand a “qwest”. Also from its mission page:
"We promise our customers stellar service, our suppliers a valuable partner, our investors the prospects of sustained profitable growth, and our employees the allure of huge impact." (Source)
Falling in line with all of this is another big step that came in 2016 from the company’s CEO, Reed Hastings. that exemplified their dedication to the customer experience. Hastings sided with the HBO’s CEO in saying that he was fine with customers sharing their Netflix account.
It’s pretty common that Netflix subscribers will share their login information with friends and family, something that could be construed as theft. But as reported in this TechCrunch article, Hastings is fine with that.
From the TechCrunch story:
“We love people sharing Netflix whether they’re two people on a couch or 10 people on a couch,,” Hastings said. “That’s a positive thing, not a negative thing.”
The president of HBO said allowing subscribers to share their profile was a “terrific marketing vehicle” and that it helped build the next generation of viewers.
Get someone addicted now for free, then when their free subscription through friends or family is no longer available, for whatever reason, they’ll have to get one on their own!
Ever heard of The Purple Promise? It’s FedEx’s promise to its customers, a 13 page document (don’t worry, there are only about two sentences a page! For emphasis of said values, I suppose.) outlining the core values of FedEx’s customer experience.
Simply put, the top mission is :”I will make every FedEx experience outstanding.” And then it goes into detail about how exactly to uphold that mission.
On the last page it has its mission, strategy, shared values, and a sum-up of The Purple Promise:
We are united behind a simple promise:
“I will make every FedEx experience outstanding.”
To keep The Purple Promise, we must:
Do whatever it takes to satisfy our customers.
Always treat customers in a professional, competent, polite and caring manner.
Handle every customer transaction with the precision required to achieve the highest quality service.
Process all customer information with 100 percent accuracy.
Ultimately, FedEx strives to put the customer at the center of everything they do.
The company has also been known to have a Customer Experience Steering Committee headed by its CEO Frederick Smith. According to the little public information that is available about this committee, FedEx executives meet monthly to identify and discuss issues in the company’s client journey and then strategizes about how to solve the problems.
Perhaps if they invest in Online Reputation Management Software that can scrape the internet and and provide a detailed report of customer sentiment, they would be able to identify and understand issues in their customer experience process in a more efficient and objective way, giving them more time to develop and implement solutions.
Just a thought, FedEx!
On that note, here is a very informative, albeit dry, video of how FedEx boosts its customer experience via analytics.
Of these three companies, Chick-fil-a may have to bear the customer experience burden the most. Being in front of customers is what they do as millions of people go in and out every day and employees are face-to-face with customers. While both FedEx and Netflix, of course, deal with customers, a lot of their representatives may be dealing with issues as they arise and they can be solved over the phone or in an online chat. FedEx does have some of this face-to-face business at their physical locations, but not necessarily to the extent Chick-fil-a does.
That being said, on the company’s customer experience page, navigation to praise or complain about the company is very easy, providing a clear sign that Chick-fil-a is open and ready for customer feedback.
But as this Business Insider article says, sometime excellent customer service is as easy as saying “Thank you.”
According to data of 2,000 customers visiting 15 restaurants, Chick-fil-a said “Thank you” 92.5% of the time, more than the other 14 restaurants.
Even better, Chick-fil-a employees are expected not to say “You’re welcome” or “Sure” or “No problem” when customers thank them in return. They are expected to say “My pleasure”. It’s a move the CEO implemented after she experienced a Ritz-Carlton employee saying “My pleasure.”
(And we’re quite familiar with the Ritz-Carlton experience!)
The move makes sense, doesn’t it? Aren’t we in the business of serving? So, we can roll out grand plans in our client’s journey, spend millions of dollars analyzing processes and procedures, and then more to implement them all. But before doing that, think about a few things employees could do regularly that will send customers on their way smiling. Something simple could be all it takes. A “Thank you” with every order, or a “My pleasure” in response to the customer’s gratitude.
Whatever your customer experience strategy may be, it’s something that can’t be ignored. It’s got one meaning and a million ways to define it. What’s your definition? And how are you going to make your customers happy like these three companies have done so successfully?
Matthew Van Deventer is a content creator for WebPunch. As a dealer of words he dabbles in journalism and loves a good story, whatever the medium. Matthew lives outside of Denver, CO with his wife, daughter, and pup, Chewy.