We all know the customer experience (CX) is important. It's become one of the most talked about concepts in the realm of retail (both online and off), as data shows it has a dramatic impact on everything from customer satisfaction to revenue.
Deloitte data shows that customer experiences and brand interactions across touchpoints have a direct impact on a consumer's decision to buy a product or service.
Rosetta data shows that engaged and satisfied customers buy 50% more often, spend 200% more each year, and are 5X more likely to display brand loyalty than those who are not.
Tempkin found a direct correlation between CX and trust, as well as consumers' willingness to recommend a brand.
In the face of these numbers and the growing competency around the need for stellar CX, brands are getting smarter—and are finding new ways to get a competitive edge.
How are they doing it? By going above and beyond, both in physical retail stores and through digital touchpoints.
Let's take a look at a few brands who are doing this well and examine different examples of this mindset in action.
Memorable Customer Experiences
Providing a memorable customer experience is one of the most effective ways to improve customer loyalty. Customers crave unique interactions with brands and want to see their needs fulfilled in unanticipated ways. If you're looking for ways to enhance your customers' journey, below are eight examples of successful companies that have been able to create an effective and memorable customer experience.
HATCH Leverages In-Store Events
Maternity fashion brand HATCH is known for its chic and comfortable clothing for expecting moms. But lately, the brand is also becoming synonymous with education and community-building events for the same demographic.
Because the brand knows that soon-to-be-moms crave connection during this time of change in their lives, they've taken it upon themselves to make their physical retail spaces a place where customers and friends can come together and share information. Through regular and recurring events, they've positioned themselves as a resource for customers that goes far beyond the products they sell. Here are just a couple of the events they offer:
Design Your Birth Plan: "All The Questions To Ask," is an introduction to creating your birth plan hosted by GraceFull founder Elizabeth Bachner. This workshop simplifies the overwhelming idea of preparing for childbirth through the GraceFull approach, ie that your journey begins with relationships you establish with your selfcare providers + support team.
Mamaste Meet-up: Monthly "Mamaste Meetup" with Birth doula, life, and wellness coach Lori Bregman, is where each month she'll be joined by a special guest. These guests include pre and post-natal yoga and fitness expert, Desi Bartlett, founder of Motherbees and author of the best-selling book "The First Forty Days," Heng Ou, and Natasha, founder of parenting site Dr. Organic Mommy. These meet-ups allow for expecting and new mamas to come and meet their new tribe.
By creating these customer experiences that go beyond shopping, the brand is fostering trust, authority, and deeper connections with its customers, which turns mere customers into lifelong supporters and brand evangelists.
Ettitude Overcomes Obstacles to Purchase
Buying bedding is often a very tactile experience, right? You want to feel the texture of the fabric you're going to be sleeping on every night to make sure it's something you'll like before making a purchase. You also might want to study the color options to make sure it fits with your other decor.
For an online-only brand like Ettitude, these used to be difficult obstacles. These were the hurdles they had to overcome to get new customers on board. That is, until they put together a free fabric swatch book that allowed customers to study both the texture of its products as well as the different colorway options available. Although this resource isn't actively promoted on the website, the swatch book is what they offer to customers (for free!) who reach out with questions and concerns related to color and texture.
And their above-and-beyond efforts don't stop there, either. Aside from this handy resource, the brand also offers customers education around product care that show customers how to use more sustainable laundry practices.
By educating customers and delivering experiences that help overcome points of friction around online purchasing, Ettitude has been able to win more customers and earn more word-of-mouth referrals.
Function of Beauty Offers Supreme Customization
In the past, when you needed a new bottle of shampoo or conditioner, you went to that aisle of the store and picked a bottle or two off the shelf. If you wanted next-tier products, maybe you bought professional-quality products at your salon. Largely, that was it as far as options went. Sure, there were products for fine hair or dry scalps, but that was where the personalization stopped.
Function of Beauty decided to take that buying experience and make it extremely customized for the individual buyer. The company allowed customers to customize everything from the color of the product, to the intensity of its fragrance, to the hair care properties that fit the needs of the consumer.
How'd they know to do this? Through a formula-building hair quiz.
This simple quiz creates an amazing customer experience in which the buyer can build out a completely customized product, even including their own first name on the packaging. And as a result, the highly personalized experience translates into positive social praise, thus building more buzz for the brand.
Hidden Crown Helps Online Customers Color-Match
If you've ever had your hair colored, you know that color matching...it's tough. So, when the hair extension company, Hidden Crown, launched its ecommerce store, they had their work cut out for them. They had to figure out how they could help customers select the right product that would blend with their natural hair, believing this would convert more interested leads and reduce returns and complaints.
They decided that to do this, they needed to go above and beyond mere product photos and offer a personalized color-matching service where color experts could review a customer photo and then recommend the appropriate product for purchase.
Through this program, they're now able to offer customers a high-touch customer experience that shows they truly care about delivering top-notch service, all while reducing costs around returns at the same time.
Pura Vida Gives Customers a Voice
Jewelry company Pura Vida thrives on customer feedback. Visit their website, and you'll see this is true, as customer stories, reviews, ratings, and testimonials are on nearly every single page.
But they don't just leverage customer voices as a form of social proof that drives sales. They also invite customers to inform their product creation strategy through their ‘Submit an Idea' feature, in which customers can share their best ideas for new products.
By crowdsourcing ideas for new products from customers, they can develop products rooted in customer demand while also showing customers that they're heard and valued. And, by giving customers a say in the product process, they can create an exciting customer experience in which buyers feel like they're an active part of the brand.
Left on Friday Takes the Guesswork Out of Sizing
Sizing around swimwear is tough for a variety of reasons: From the type of fabric, to the cut, to the style of suit, there are a lot of variables that can make it tough for shoppers to pinpoint the right product fit. That's why online swimwear brand, Left on Friday, knew they wanted to create an extensive Fit Guide for their customers. In doing so, they make the online shopping journey a lot less confusing (and a lot less awkward.)
"We knew customers might be hesitant to buy something as intimate as swimwear without trying it on in person, so we set out to make the shopping experience painless and as focused on the individual as our suits are," said Founders Shannon Savage and Laura Low Ah Kee.
By going into great detail about product fit and providing multiple points of reference, they help shoppers eliminate uncertainty and find the ideal product based on their unique needs. But if this isn't enough, they also offer a comparative guide that lets shoppers reference Left On Friday products and compared them with other common brands. This contextual information creates a near frictionless buying experience and helps shoppers find the right fit right away.
Inez Lets Shoppers Try Two for the Price of One
Much like swimwear, footwear sizing can be tricky to figure out when buying online. When Inez founder, Tony Musso, worked on the floor of the Bloomingdale's shoe department as part of his market research, he discovered a common question buyers asked when trying on shoes: "Can I try this in two different sizes?
As a result, Musso decided to make a try-at-home program a core facet of the Inez online business model. How it works: Buyers can try the same product in two different size variations (a size 6 standard and a size 6 roomy, for example) all while only paying for the price of one. The buyer keeps the size that fits better and sends the other pair back at no extra charge.
By introducing the try-at-home model in a new vertical, Inez is taking a customer experience booster well-known in the realm of eyewear (a la Warby Parker) and making it work in the context of footwear. The result: Happier, more satisfied customers.
Farmgirl Flowers Adds Unexpected Extras
"Surprise and delight" has been a go-to motto for companies obsessed with customer experience for several years now. And, at Farmgirl Flowers, they're on board with that mantra, too. To set themselves apart from other floral delivery services, this brand has figured out how a little extra effort can go a long way.
What do they do to surprise and delight? Aside from their remarkable burlap-wrapped flowers, any time a customer sends a bouquet, they throw in a few fun extras for the recipient: An enamel pin, a package of cookies, and illustrated instructions on how to get the most out of the flowers they've just received (complete with advice on how to ‘zhush' them.)
These low-cost extras give the unboxing experience an unexpected element and make the recipient feel extra-special. Plus: The how-to instructions act as a fun form of customer education (and encourages social sharing, too.)
Competition for consumer attention is at an all-time high, so what will you do to make your brand stand out from the noise? With these contextual examples top-of-mind, the next step is to think about how you can adjust your CX strategy to go above and beyond for customers.
Originally published Feb 15, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated March 26 2019