3 Examples of Excellent Customer Experience Strategies
By Megan Wells
Building an amazing product or service is your company’s number one priority. However, with competition growing continuously across industries, and as expectations surrounding access to your product or service heighten, having a great customer experience strategy makes a difference.
A 2019 Gartner Customer Experience Management Survey says more than two-thirds of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience--over price and product.
Meeting and exceeding customer expectations is hard work, but not impossible with the right data, insight, and questions. A cohesive strategy--with enough flexibility built in--will make creating intuitive touchpoints and pacing the journey from prospect to customer easier and easier.
In this article, we’ve identified 3 examples of customer experience (CX) strategies from SaaS to retail that can help you implement your own CX future.
What is CX?
The CX is the overall experience someone feels after each interaction with your brand or organization.
What makes a great customer experience?
Keeping customers and prospective buyers happy, coming back for more, and telling their friends about your brand, requires a deliberate course of action. People know if they are an afterthought in your business strategy, so a thoughtful CX strategy goes a long way. But where do you start?
What does one need to make a great experience?
- Far from a linear path (and complicated by the ever-evolving ways technology can be used as a touchpoint), a typical customer experience strategy needs to start with a customer journey map, which involves an assessment or pulse on your customer's experience today, a goal or vision for the future, and an actionable plan to execute your mission.
Forrester defines the key elements of a CX strategy as:
- A vision for your customer experience
- A description of your customer
- An honest gap analysis
- A road map
- Accountability plan
Real examples of great CX
In the following examples across SaaS, retail, and telecom, we assessed each from the lens of:
- What was their customer experience problem?
- What was their CX goal?
- How did they approach it?
- What was their strategy?
- What were the results?
1. How Slack reimagined the B2B SaaS success model
Slack’s meteoric rise to success set the bar high for any new entrant into the B2B tech space and redefined how companies communicate. The numbers are impressive:
- 12 million daily active users as of October 2019.
- $902 million in revenue was generated between March 2020 to April 2021 (a 43% YoY increase).
- 30% conversion rate--the highest in freemium software products.
- Sold to Salesforce in December 2020 for $27.7 billion
But the success didn’t happen overnight--it was the result of carefully laid plans across their business. A key factor is a careful attention to the customer journey each step of the way. Slack's product, branding, and the fact that their customer experience was so well executed meant Slack was able to achieve impressive growth milestones without an internal marketing team.
After its initial launch, Slack paid special attention to its NPS (Net Promoter Score) data. However, the team became more interested in the growth and activation rates of new users’ teams. Knowing that their success hinged on not just one user’s success but the success of an entire company’s communication meant that word-of-mouth was crucial.
How could they turn customers into advocates? Delivering on their brand promise: fast & frictionless communication.
Aside from their consistent and continuous innovation on the product side, Slack made sure the very first experience with the brand was always easy, quick, and fun.
- Onboarding users: A new user only needs 3 clicks to get started in the app
- Clear, fair pricing: If a user stops using Slack, they credit the user's account
- Onboarding internal customer success teams: New hires go through a nine-week training process to acclimate to the culture and become ambassadors for the Slack way of communicating
Today, Slack is arguably one of the most successful companies in B2B tech. Their sale to Salesforce and continued success based on customer love sends a clear message to every company: a successful CX strategy pays off.
2. How Sephora set the beauty industry standard
Sephora is a prime example of how a focus on customer experience can shift a brand to be more future-forward.
When smartphones entered the market, Sephora noticed that many of their in-store shoppers were searching for product reviews, recommendations, and competitor prices right there in the aisle. The company recognized this behavior as an emerging norm and decided to revamp a large portion of its retail strategy to embrace mobile technology, much to its advantage.
While Sephora has multiple programs and tools that prove they’re worthy of the brand reputation they’ve garnered, the launch of the Sephora Beauty Insider program made them legendary in the retail industry. Started in 2007, the program was launched to give perks and exclusive deals to insiders, founded on the premise, “it’s not about what their loyalty demonstrates to us, but what we can deliver to our clients that creates the most meaningful and connected experience with our brands,” said Allegra Stanley, Sephora’s VP and General Manager.
Sephora launched its Beauty Insider card into the Apple Passbook in 2012--one of the first retailers to do so--after realizing that over 70% of their Sephora.com traffic came from an iOS device.
In addition, they created the Sephora mobile app to meet customers during cross-channel interactions, and at one point averaged 87,000 app downloads per week. Customers were given the functionality of scanning products they were considering, allowing the app to help them find the right product for them based on ratings, reviews, and past purchases.
Sephora considered its digital strategy a success once it reviewed its results: the Beauty Insider program now boasts over 17 million members in just North America making up 80% of the company’s sales. Having direct access to loyalty program members means that the company can bring customers to the Sephora website even when they aren’t actively shopping.
Customers with Passbook spent twice as much more annually and purchased 2X as frequently as the average Sephora customer. When interviewed, Sephora’s CMO mentioned that mobile sales grew over 100% each year in the three years after the initial launch. Improved engagement via the loyalty program means those website visitors have shown a 22% increase in cross-selling and a 13-51% increase in upsell revenue.
Not only that, but the data collected across online browsing and mobile app interactions gave the company a 360-degree view into the customer journey, investing in an even brighter CX future.
3. How Comcast revamped the telecom customer experience
Telecom companies are increasingly shifting their focus to customer service and customer experience to keep their slice of market share.
Research shows that telecom organizations that increase CX scores by even just one point will generate an additional $3.39 in per-customer incremental revenue. In addition, the Harvard Business Review found that customers with the most satisfying experiences spend an average of 140% more than those whose experiences fell short.
Facing mounting competitive pressures, changes in consumer demands, and a focus on raising NPS scores, Comcast set out to revamp its customer experience. The problem: their greatest asset--a massive amount of data from over 70 different channels of customer interaction--was too cumbersome to work with and derive insights from effectively.
The company took decisive action by creating a Customer Experience Personalization (CXP) team to build a platform that would manage the collection and interpretation of customer and systems data.
The team was able to map out each of their 30,000,000 customer relationships with the company in a detailed journey format--a valuable resource for over 40,000 support agents and various business teams across the company.
They didn’t stop there. Now needing to analyze experiences across each of those customer journeys to decipher trends, they sought a customer intelligence solution that could pick up disparate datasets and make sense of their connections in real-time.
Comcast tapped Scuba Analytics for its ability to combine raw event data across disparate datasets easily and at scale. The speed and flexibility of Scuba’s data ingestion capabilities allow the CXP team to work in a hybrid model where data can be quickly reingested, without involving additional IT or data warehousing teams. As a full-stack solution, Scuba provides a front end for data exploration with dynamic UI elements and a visual query builder.
Equipped with a faster, more comprehensive intelligence tool, the CXP team could finally see if certain problematic events were unique to one customer, or if they constituted a trend across a certain cohort, region, time period, or another dimension.
With this level of insight, the team could answer questions they couldn’t ask before, like:
- How many proactive messages are being sent, acknowledged, and responded to?
- What conditions leading to inbound support calls could be addressed or eliminated through proactive communications?
- How does proactive communication impact customer contact rates, journey success, and perception?
Not only was Comcast able to boost its NPS score, but they were able to eliminate 1.3 million costly support calls due to proactive responses to service interruptions.
Comcast’s success highlights the growing importance of customer intelligence, especially for large enterprises that might find themselves weighed down by too many archaic processes to innovate. By eliminating the need for multiple systems to thread together the insights they needed, Comcast was able to take drastic action--and quickly--to reframe its brand image and win back its customers.
Creating a customer experience strategy is no picnic: it requires ingenuity, a savvy analytical mindset, and deep empathy for the customer at every step of their journey. However, the effort invested into a solid customer experience foundation can provide a safety net for your business in a way price and product can’t.
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