What Makes a Great Customer Experience?

By VHT Marketing

human connectionThe2 question of what makes up a great customer experience is one that individuals have been debating for decades.  How do you create an organization that is aligned around the singular mission of delighting the customer?  How can you build an army of brand promoters that remain loyal year after year and spread the word among family and friends to help drive new customer acquisition?

I recently sat down with leaders at VHT — who collectively bring over 50 years of experience and expertise in the customer service industry — and asked them to tell me of a time when they were “wowed” by an interaction with a business. Their responses are insightful, resulting in some key themes that may be helpful to all professionals who interact with customers.

  • There’s no replacing the human touch: Your service agents are critical to your customer’s experience.  Ultimately, they are a human representation of your brand, and if they’re able to win over your customers, so too will you.  It is imperative to train your reps to have positive, energetic, sincere engagement with your customers and to equip them with the information they need to create seamless transitions between the online and in-person experience.
  • Go above and beyond: Seize opportunities to do more than you have to. Turn negative experiences into positive ones, disarm your customers by quickly and efficiently fixing their mistakes and getting them back to the things that really matter.

Read on for customer experiences that wowed a few members of our leadership team. What lessons can you take from the VHT leadership team’s stories of great service?

  • Ted Bray, VP of Product & Field Marketing
    • Q: Which company wowed you? 
      • A: United Airlines
    • Q: Tell us about your experience.
      • A: I was flying back home to Colorado when I received an alert that my flight was delayed.  Armed with this new insight, I went to the ticket counter (instead of through security and on to my gate) and spoke with a live agent who had access to the same comprehensive, accurate information as I did on my iPhone.  Within 5 minutes, she was able to get me transferred onto an American flight so I could still make my Denver connection in Chicago.  At the American counter, they had everything they needed, and were able to immediately issue me my boarding pass (I even had the same seat number).
    • Q: What made it stand out for you?
      • A: United provided me with an integrated, multi-channel and multi-modal service experience.  Through their app, I was able to access rich, current, accurate information that simplified my issue resolution.  My situation was complex enough that it could not be fully automated, so I was connected to multiple people effectively and efficiently, and they were enabled and empowered to help me.  I was impressed with how United’s people and systems came together to help me get home on time to my family.  As a 1K million miler with United, I appreciate their efforts to make my travel experience a great one, even when things don’t always go as planned.
  • Tracey Rader, Director of Human Resources
    • Q: Which company wowed you?   
      • A: DirecTV
    • Q: Tell us about your experience.
      • A: My family and I were settling in for a much needed movie night when I accidentally ordered the wrong selection.  I called the customer service line in hopes of correcting my mistake.  Fortunately, the agent was very helpful and accommodating.  He was playful in his responses, which kept me calm and confident that he would be able to resolve my issue. He remained on the line to ensure my problems was corrected and, for a real “wow” factor, he even waived the fees that would normally be associated with using an agent versus self-service.
    • Q: What made it stand out for you?
      • A: DirecTV made it easy and painless for me to resolve my problem, even though I was the one at fault. The company representative with whom I spoke clearly cared about my experience and left me with the feeling that the company cared about having me as a customer.  And, most importantly, my family and I could quickly return to the real task at hand — enjoying our movie night together.
  • Walter Lash, Manager of Business Intelligence and Analytics
    • Q: Which company wowed you?   
      • A: Amazon.com
    • Q: Tell us about your experience.
      • A: I purchased a vacuum cleaner, and after 30 days, it stopped working.  I contacted the manufacturer, but because there were no service providers in the area, they required me to mail the vacuum to them, which was costly given its size and weight.  A few days later, I received an email from Amazon to rate my experience with the product, and I decided to fill it out.  I frequently get emails to rate my interactions, and though I occasionally fill them out, I have never actually received a response.  However, this time, the day after I submitted my survey, I was contacted by a member of the Amazon care team who offered to send me a basic replacement part.  I received the part in two days, and it ended up completely fixing the issues I was having.
    • Q: What made it stand out for you?
      • A: Amazon.com took the time that the manufacturing company wouldn’t take.  They saw an opportunity to turn my negative experience into a positive one, and thus earn my business and trust.  Since then, I have become a Prime member, and Amazon has become my primary shopping destination for everything from clothing to electronics to paper towels.

Too often we hear about negative customer service stories.  That’s why we love highlighting customer experiences done well. Your turn: tell us about a positive interaction you’ve had with a business.