Everyone knows that when it comes to branding your company, how you handle customer service issues can make a big difference in whether your brand is one customers love or one customers love to hate. This means that any mistakes, flops, or misunderstandings your company has are actually opportunities to surprise and delight your customers into becoming brand cheerleaders.
Your existing customers can be your best word-of-mouth and online promoters
When most companies talk about customer service issues, they talk about how to appease angry or unsatisfied customers but customer delight is more about preventing disgruntled customers in the first place and then going above and beyond if something does go wrong. After all, people are more likely to leave an online review if they have had a bad experience than if they've had a good one. We've all seen airline websites that are trashed with customer comments complaining about high prices and lost luggage, or online clothing retailers with pages of complaints of poor quality clothing and long shipping waits. Of course it's important to try to keep customers happy, even if something out of your control happens! Many companies will respond to customer service complaints with a rote apology and a discount or refund on their purchase. Customer delight, as opposed to just customer service by itself, goes much further than simply sending out impersonal or automated apologies.
Customer delight means more than cursory customer service! It means going above and beyond what is expected of you—exceeding their expectations. Exceeding customer expectations will elicit a strong, positive, emotional response that will encourage customers to return to you and to talk about their experience with others. Here are some examples of companies that do a great job at going above and beyond to delight their customers.
1. Warby Parker: Warby Parker has become a sort of gold standard against which all other ecommerce companies are held. The trendy eyeglasses retailer provides several unique and thoughtful services that not only surprise and delight customers, but that have added to their brand identity to make them one of the most respected online retailers of the last few years.
With their Home Try-On program, Warby Parker allows potential customers to try out frames they are looking at online before purchasing them. After just creating an account, users can have up to five pairs of frames sent to their home at a time to try on for the next five days. The potential customer then sends the frames back free of charge (return shipping is included) and with no obligation to buy one of the pairs they tried on. This was a great idea on Warby Parker's part because it encourages people who would normally be reluctant to purchase a big ticket item like prescription glasses online without being able to see how they physically feel and look to go ahead and buy. It's also a unique enough program to create invaluable word-of-mouth buzz for the brand.
Warby Parker further encourages online purchases by offering their own pupillary-distance measuring tool to ensure that online purchases fit your face as accurately as possible. The website itself uses high quality images of the glasses with measurements and panoramic views of them being worn from a model so shoppers can know exactly how large the frames are and how they look on a person from all angles. Most notable, perhaps, of all of their methods is the fact that for every pair of glasses you buy they donate a pair of glasses to their non-profit partners that take the glasses and help train people in third-world communities to give basic eye-exams and provide affordable eyeware for the rest of the community.
All of this effort (and more) goes a long way to surprise and delight their customers because, well, they simply go above and beyond to be helpful. Part of the Warby Parker mission statement is to "treat customers the way we want to be treated." This simple missive has done exponentially more for their brand than their quality products and well-designed brand packaging could do for them alone. This has led to them get enormous amounts of free press by being praised by industry bloggers, magazines, and of course the customers themselves.
2. Modcloth: Like Warby Parker, the online clothing retailer Modcloth has excellent customer service methods that try to respond quickly and go the extra mile for customers that experience difficulties with their site or a product. For example, in addition to having a phone number and email address for customer service issues, they have a live chat option for real-time help. I recently ordered a dress from them that was too big when I tried it on and I didn't like the pattern after seeing it in person. Using their website, it was very easy for me to print out a free return shipment and when I got on live chat to ask if I could exchange the dress for a different pattern as well as different size, the representative went ahead and took care of it for me within a minute. Another time I tried to order something during a sale they were having and when the website wasn't working I tweeted at Modcloth for help. Less than a minute later they were directing me to talk to a representative and giving me early access to their next sale.
In addition to their stellar customer service methods, Modcloth involves their customers through contests, "Style Galleries," and social media. Modcloth encourages the "ModCommunity" of their customers to take pictures of themselves modeling their Modcloth-purchased clothes which stream across the website's homepage. There is no comment section—only the ability to "like", follow your feed, or share images—so it's a totally positive experience for the person posting the image with no opportunity for mean comments or internet trolling. The "delight" comes when the customer sees that they are featured on the website of their favorite fashion brand and that people are liking their style.
Modcloth does a great job of making the individual customer feel included in the brand process in general. Like with the Style Gallery, customers are often featured on Modcloth's social media profiles as well as through contests. For example, Modcloth recently held a contest where anyone could submit a design for a scarf that would then be produced by Modcloth. They've also held contests allowing customers to name different articles of clothing in the past. With both of these types of contests, the customer wants their name/design/whatever to win so they promote Modcloth like crazy on all of their personal social media accounts. Customers are delighted that they are being recognized for their creativity and Modcloth's online reach grows exponentially.
3. The Walt Disney Company: Although this company is so huge it would be hard to group all of its imprints under the same name (It owns Marvel, ABC & ABC Family, ESPN, the Walt Disney theme parks, a cruise line, various movie studios, various consumer product lines, a publishing house, and an interactive digital entertainment group. Heck, you can even buy Disney-branded pet food.) But for the most part, everything branded with the name "Disney" has proven to delight customers for decades. Part of the reason for this is that Disney deliberately turns everything they do—even the mundane things—into a "magical" experience.
Anyone who's ever visited one of the Disney Parks can attest to this. Sure, it might seem like you're not having such a magical experience while you're waiting in line for "Space Mountain," but the Walt Disney Co. firmly believes that every interaction customers have with their employees should be a positive one. If a customer interacts with 25 employees and 24 of them are perfectly pleasant but one is rude, Walt Disney Co. realizes that the customer is more likely to remember the one negative interaction than the 24 positive ones.
This philosophy leads them to extensively train their employees to handle difficult customer service situations, brand the heck out of everything they produce, and make every experience possible (from buying snacks at a Disneyland to getting a t-shirt at a Disney Store) laced with a bit of "Disney Magic."
4. Ikea: Ikea stores are like the Disneyland of home furnishing stores. By that I mean they make shopping there an almost theme-park-like experience. In addition to their delicious Swedish meatballs, shoppers are delighted by the maze of showrooms Ikea creates to inspire shoppers in their own home or office interior design. The showrooms are designed specifically for different types of clientele they are most likely to have—college students living in small dorms, young people living in apartments or condos, or families looking to decorate their first home. With its assemble-everything-yourself way of packaging and selling their furniture, they are able to keep the prices of their products relatively low.
A large part of what makes them such a destination for customers is that they are super helpful and they stock everything a person needs to have a functional living space. This makes Ikea stores a must-hit spot for new college students looking to stock their dorms or young married couples looking to affordably furnish their first home. Because of its affordable and experiential store where people can buy everything from kitchen appliances to lighting fixtures, I personally know people who will take day trips to drive to the nearest Ikea store hours away. That's pretty impressive brand loyalty from the customers of any company!
So, what can your company be doing to delight its customers? Have any great ideas? Leave them in the comments below!
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