5 Inspirational Customer Experience Examples

published on 21 June 2021
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We’ve all read those great customer experience stories that make us feel awed and admiring, but some of those stand-out examples can be misleading.

To wow your customers and drive loyalty, you need to represent both stability and those moments of amazement. A scalable customer experience is one that you can promise to your customers every day — not the occasional wow moments that your employees pull out on a whim.

Because of that, we’ve created a list of customer experience examples that represent both the one-off wow moments where a business provided a surprising and delightful experience and the brand strategies behind a great (and scalable) customer experience.

The following five examples run the gamut from highly individual to overall philosophies that inform notable companies’ strategies. 

1. Ritz-Carlton

The Ritz is the crème de la crème when it comes to customer experience. The hospitality brand is renowned worldwide because it empowers its employees to provide an excellent experience for each and every customer. One of the most notable policies the brand has put in place is its customer experience stipend.

The Ritz grants its employees the ability to spend up to $2,000 per incident to resolve customer problems. Employees don’t need to ask for manager approval in order to make the customer’s experience better.

While it might not be in your budget to offer $2,000 per issue, you can still empower your employees to do what is needed at the moment. Give them the power to provide refunds, discounts, or bend the rules if they deem that it will be best for the customer.

2. Starbucks

Starbucks has long strived to be the ”third place,” or the place after home and work where people feel most comfortable gathering. This individual story from a Starbucks location in Leesburg, Virginia is an excellent example of why they are a third place for so many people.

A barista noticed that one of their regulars, who is deaf, was having trouble ordering and navigating the customer journey at Starbucks. In her spare time, the team member learned American Sign Language to make the customer’s experience a little bit easier.

She notified the man by writing him a note when he came in to pick up his regular order, and it moved him so much he had it framed.

While your team certainly can’t go above and beyond like this for every customer, knowing that they have it in them to do is valuable. Customer experience examples like this encourage us to remember that humans are on the other side of our strategies and to do what is in our power to help them get the most from our product or service.

3. Netflix

Netflix understands their customers’ desires and needs to a T. They’ve done a ton of analysis on viewer behavior and customer satisfaction to understand what drives their customers’ behaviors and happiness.

Because of that, it should come as no surprise that they have some pretty delightful customer experience strategies. One of the tremendous one-off experiences that they’ve provided involves a very boisterous customer service rep and a willing customer keen to play along:

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You’ll note that it ends with the customer saying that he wished he had more issues so that he could keep the conversation going.

Netflix teaches us that allowing our customer experience team members to bring themselves and their personalities to their work can be a great way to create excellent customer experience examples.

4. Morton’s Steakhouse

While this example isn’t a scalable or even typically attainable level of customer service, this story from Morton’s Steakhouse has become so well known that it feels like a travesty not to include it.

Peter Shankman tweeted to his favorite steakhouse that he would be arriving in town and asked them to meet him at the airport with a steak.

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Tons of people have tweeted things like this in jest, never expecting a response. Imagine Peter’s surprise when he landed at the airport and found a server holding a bag containing a full meal, free of charge.

The nearest Morton’s was 23.5 miles away, which is quite a feat in itself, but beyond that, someone had to find his flight information and track it to ensure the food arrived at precisely the right time and place.

While you probably won’t be delivering steaks to all of your customers, this customer experience example shows that sometimes going above and beyond to find ways to delight them can have a considerable payout when it comes to loyalty.

5. TD Bank

TD Bank is delightful in the way it treats its customers as humans. It was one of the first bank branches to start offering coffee and treats to customers in line and has always been notoriously customer-first with its policies around fees and overdrafts.

It outdid itself, though, when it replaced some of its Automated Teller Machines with Automated Thanking Machines. Rather than balance checks or cash, they spat out gifts.

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Some of the gifts were large: a trip to Disneyland or the ability to throw the first pitch at a beloved baseball game, but the recognition doesn’t need to be large to make an impact. Over 30,000 TD Bank customers received recognition on #TDThanksYou day.

Every customer in a branch at 2 p.m. received a $20 bill. The system informed customers logging in through their online banking or phone that they would receive a direct deposit of $20.

While this seems like a huge push, we should note that machines did all of the heavy lifting. While we often talk about delight in the humanness of customer experience examples, this is one story that the company couldn’t have accomplished without automation.

Remember that as you start to determine shifts to make in your strategy, automation can help make some of these delightful moments a bit more scalable.

Hire caring people and empower them

Some of these customer experience examples require structure for implementation, like those at Ritz-Carlton, but others come from the goodness of the representative’s heart.

While creating strategies that support and encourage acts like these are essential for them to be scalable, it is frequently just as important to hire people who care about creating an excellent environment for customers.

Hire employees who are kind and caring, and you’ll find that your customers reap the benefits. Bolster those kind intentions with policies and strategies that make them easy to enact, and your customer-facing team will create beautiful examples of customer experiences like these in no time.

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