As consumers, we don’t actively think about the “customer experience” — we just know when a brand makes us feel good. And the number of ways that we encounter brands is vast and continuing to expand thanks to things like native advertising, mobile app experiences, the Internet of Things and innovative offline and in-store experiences. Each one of these interactions elicits emotion; according to eMarketer, “over time, these individual interactions or moments accrue, forming the basis for customer experience.”
Brands that are winning the hearts, minds, and dollars of consumers are working to tie these experiences together in a way that’s consistent and personalized. They’re investing in marketing technologies that allow for customer data to be integrated and optimized based on customer behavior and preferences.
For example, a brand that retargets you with a relevant ad based on something you said during a phone call, or delivers an email based on your web-browsing behavior is typically a positive experience, right? It will either result in a sale or increased brand loyalty. Ideally, it does both.
In this post, I’m going to review four examples of exceptional customer experiences. They all happen to be from retailers, which as an industry, has been at the forefront of omnichannel marketing. I expect to see some more great examples come out of this holiday season, given there’s so much revenue at stake for retailers this time of year.
Speaking of revenue at stake, check out how marketing leaders are financially outperforming everyone else when it comes to influencing the customer experience across channels. This proves that a great customer experience — or plain old “making consumers feel good” — isn’t just marketing fluff. It has real business impact.
There’s no question that L.L. Bean pioneered the catalog. Its founder began reaching people by mail with a three-page flyer starting in 1912, and online sales didn’t surpass catalog sales until almost 100 years later in 2009. L.L. Bean has done an amazing job of staying true to its direct mail roots while layering in new channels and ways of connecting with its customers.
It offers a mobile app with retail and outdoor experiences personalized based on your preferences and purchase history. And the company has done a phenomenal job of using social media to capitalize on the resurging popularity of Duck Boots among high school and college-age kids. L.L. Bean has insisted they didn’t do anything special to bring these boots back in style, but kudos to their marketing team for jumping on the opportunity and ultimately contributing to record sales over the past several years.
When I was a kid I remember shopping for shoes at Nordstrom with my mom, and there was always someone in a suit or dress playing a grand piano. Obviously, this made an impression on me at a young age. Back then, Nordstrom stood out as creating a great in-store experience for shoppers, and I love that this customer-centric philosophy continues to permeate all aspects of their business.
If you’re doing a mobile search for boots, Nordstrom lets you know the nearest store where the boots are in stock, in your size. And of course, they also make it easy to purchase with a few clicks online or in their mobile app. And like most retailers, Nordstrom reminds shoppers about what they’re interested in via display and social retargeting, but they always stop these ads after you’ve purchased the items online. Now they just need to make this connection for in-store or phone purchases (hint hint, this is where Invoca comes in).
You have to hand it to Amazon for constantly pushing the envelope on the customer experience. Their online and mobile shopping experiences are second to none, but what’s worth noting is how the company is stretching these experiences with offline channels like the Echo and Dash buttons. Oh yeah, and don’t forget drones!
I have an Echo at home and while I typically use it for playing music or asking questions, I have ordered a few things on Amazon and added things to my Amazon wish lists. This device is a nice convenience, but its goal is to provide enough value to me that my interactions with Amazon become integrated into my life. If I enjoy the experience, then I may use it more. When placing an order becomes as easy as playing my favorite song, that’s a seamless customer experience.
In the past, most retailers started with a brick and mortar store and launched an online presence later. In the past five years or so, there’s been a new breed of retailers like Warby Parker that have created an remarkable online business, offering a new kind of customer experience that’s accessible from one’s couch. I never would have imagined successfully ordering eyeglasses online, but Warby Parker made that a possibility for me. However, they realized that lots of consumers still like the instant gratification of an in-store experience.
Since opening up store locations in target locales, they’ve seen sales skyrocket and they’re doubling down on this strategy. They’re even working on a technology that will allow customers to conduct eye exams on their mobile phones — not only a great experience, but a smart way to collect customer data that could presumably be used for hyper-personalized marketing. A few other retailers like Bonobos and Tuft & Needle are taking a similar approach by creating a memorable customer experience online and offline, ultimately giving consumers more options for engaging with their brand.
These examples are proof that there’s no one way or right way to think about the customer experience. It’s about knowing what’s important to your customers and building on what’s been successful for your business versus completely reinventing the wheel or jumping on the latest trend.
Discover how to provide customer experiences that are managed as carefully as your product, price, and the promotion of the marketing mix in the Customer Experience Simplified guide. Your customers will thank you for doing the research in order to give them the optimal experience.