My Nominees for the Customer Experience (CX) Hall of Fame

Customer review showing five glowing stars

Last month, I wrote a blog post about how we, at Rutabaga, have customer experience on our mind; highlighting three experiences that left something to be desired. As a follow up, I wanted to examine the other side of the CX coin — experiences worthy of being inducted into our (well-intentioned but totally made up) CX Hall of Fame. When considering nominees, the only conclusion to be drawn is that a good experience is contextual, and that it’s the smallest details that can make the biggest impact through their authenticity. These two factors mean that no matter how many usability heuristics try to simplify things (this framework from the Nielsen Norman Group and our own brand trust framework are great examples), designing and executing on good experiences will always be hard work.

Here’s three examples of good customer experiences we’ve had, from small tokens of appreciation to engaging content. All three deliver delight in the details.

Reward Loyal Customers

Alaska Airlines, like many airlines, has a mileage reward program. Fly with them and earn miles, use their credit card and earn double, sometimes triple miles on qualifying purchases. As customers accumulate miles, they progress into different membership tiers. The higher the tier, the more rewarded you are. When you reach a certain tier, flight attendants come by your seat during flight and give you a chocolate bar. It’s a small token of appreciation, one that delights passengers. A key reason why this works is because it evokes the principle of reciprocity. Alaska is giving their loyal customers a small gift, and in return, their customers give Alaska their loyalty. 

Keep Customers Engaged

When ordering products online, it can be a while between purchase and delivery, especially for larger ticket items like furniture. I purchased a floor lamp from CB2 and it was going to take several weeks before it arrived. During that time, CB2 sent me a series of emails, keeping me engaged as a customer. The content included what to expect when the lamp arrived with setup instructions and styling tips. It was helpful content and fun to receive as it spurred excitement and anticipation for delivery of the product.

Asking Only for the Time You Need

I called into a support line to make changes to a reservation that I had. I was rebooking airfare and the use of rewards, combined with sales fare, change fees, and force majeure that necessitated the change was making this a complicated transaction. Unfortunately, I was not the only one in this situation, so the support line had a long wait time, which was annoying because my battery was dying and there’s only so much hold music I can take. Fortunately, the support system had implemented a call back feature. They would reserve my place in line, and give me a call back when they were ready. Brilliant! I now had time back in my day with a call-back ETA. I’ve experienced the support call back capability many times, and every time I am still delighted to not have to wait on the phone.

Putting the end user at the center of an experience and meeting (or exceeding) both their latent and expressed needs demands understanding the who, what, when, where, and most importantly, why. Devise a strategy that takes these points into consideration, focus on the details, and any organization will be on the right path to creating great customer experiences. At Rutabaga, it’s what gets us up in the morning, and keeps us up at night. Experience first.

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