What makes a great customer experience? 

In many ways, this might depend on what you (the customer) value the most in a brand. Personalised emails or speedy social replies, for example. Or perhaps superb digital content. 

Overall, however, brands with a great CX tend to cover a multitude of bases – ensuring that customers are satisfied at each and every touchpoint. 

So, delving a little deeper (and away from the most obvious brands) here are just a few examples and the reasons why they excel.

1. i-escape.com – superbly researched travel content

i-escape aims to be the antithesis of big travel aggregators, offering customers a curated selection of accommodation across the globe. As a result, everything about its website screams ‘personal’. 

Instead of bog-standard descriptions, each place is reviewed from a first-hand perspective, giving visitors proper insight into how their holiday might pan out (e.g. the hotel has yet to obtain a liquor license) – not just basic details like what décor to expect.

i-escape product page

The product pages include an amount of detail I’ve not seen elsewhere. The ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ sections are particularly great, giving specific details about every aspect of a trip. You wouldn’t hear about road noise on a Booking.com listing for instance (apart from in the reviews section), but it is this kind of up-front information which makes i-escape feel entirely transparent.

While there’s a lot to digest, the site’s highly visual design also means it is easy and enjoyable to browse. Altogether, it gives customers multiple (and perhaps enough) reasons to choose it over other big-name travel sites, including special gifts or discounts for i-escape bookers.

2. Bulb – pain-free switching, good UX and transparency

Switching energy suppliers was once perceived to be a long and difficult process. However, this appears to be changing, with 2017 seeing more people switch than ever before – 15% more than 2016 to be precise.

Brands like Bulb are likely to have contributed to this rise, with a quick and pain-free switch being a big part of the brand’s USP. Providing even more incentive to customers, it also promises lower costs (20% cheaper than the Big Six), as well as green energy from renewable sources.  

As a recent customer myself, I can vouch for Bulb on all of the above. A seamless switch, regular and informative updates, and brand transparency have all been very well received. This, along with other features like clear and conversational emails and attractive design have all contributed to a memorable CX.

Meanwhile, as the below tweet highlights, Bulb is continuously working to improve its online UX, using a pattern library to identify and solve user frustrations. Bravo.

3. Naked Wines – investment in better wine by involving the customer

Naked Wines calls itself a ‘customer-funded wine business’. This means that instead of membership fees, customers (or ‘angels’ as they’re called) invest £20 per month in exchange for discounted and exclusive wines. The money acts as investment in quality winemakers, meaning it doesn’t count towards sales or marketing.

naked wines website

One potential bugbear - there’s a waitlist to join.

However, instead of alienating new customers, Naked Wines has a great strategy to ensure people stay happy and invested. It sends weekly updates informing customers of where they are on the list, reminding them of what benefits they can expect, as well as a discounted case of wine for waiting. 

The update emails focus on personalisation, taking a highly friendly and conversational tone of voice, and asking recipients to help decide the company's priorities. This tone of voice is demonstrated throughout the customer journey, with Naked Wines striking a great balance between its ‘exclusive’ nature and down-to-earth persona. 

naked wines email

4. Farmdrop – sustainability meets convenience

Farmdrop is something of a disruptor brand, giving British supermarkets a run for their money in terms of customer value.

It essentially acts as an online farmer’s market, allowing people to order fresh produce directly from farms and have it delivered to their homes in the London, Bristol or Bath areas. This means it is able to fulfil its promise of zero waste, fast delivery, fresh British produce, and giving farmers 75% of the purchase price.

farmdrop website

It’s a fantastic idea to start with, but what makes Farmdrop stand out is the convenience and ease of its service. Having implemented next day delivery this year, it now offers customers just as much flexibility as big supermarkets. Arguably even more, with one-hour slots and regular updates included along the way.

Another reason to appreciate Farmdrop is that its brand values are brilliantly communicated, giving customers endless reasons why they should choose it over other supermarkets.

Reviews (which are pleasingly embedded into its site) back this up, with customers’ praising the brand for extra details like minimal packaging and friendly service. On top of its core promise, this is what truly elevates its CX.

farmdrop website

5. Casper – selling sleep, not mattresses

Reports suggest that the online mattress industry is worth a whopping $15 billion. This is largely down to brands cottoning on to the benefits of delivery, trials, and no-fuss returns if customers aren’t satisfied.

As a result of this competition, brands like Casper are focusing on how they can better the customer experience to provide greater value (outside of the actual product itself). 

One way it does this is by guiding customers throughout their journey, even long after they might have made a purchase. The website includes a wealth of product guides and reviews to tempt customers to try out the service. Meanwhile, their email ‘snoozeletter’ offers additional digital content, including links to ‘Pillow Talk’ – its blog about all things sleep-related.

Other content marketing stands out too, such as the ‘foam page’ that highlights the mattress's squishy nature, as well as its chatbot for insomniacs.

Altogether, these features evoke the sense that Casper is not just a brand that cares about a one-off sale. Rather, it takes the time to invest in quality, valuable, and entertaining digital content to delight consumers pre, during, and post-purchase.

It’s also worth mentioning that – while Casper is predominantly an ecommerce brand – it has also taken steps to enter into physical retail with a number of brick-and-mortar pop-ups.

This has helped to align its online and offline experience, giving customers the chance to interact with the brand in real life. 

6. Ocado – perks and tech-enabled efficiency

With the likes of Farmdrop aiming to draw consumers away from supermarkets, some grocery retailers are upping their game when it comes to CX. 

Ocado is one brand that has long used technology to enhance the customer experience, specifically investing in its website and logistics to create a seamless and fuss-free shop.

Last year, KAE found Ocado to be the highest ranked UK supermarket for satisfied customers. But interestingly, it had the most dissatisfied customers, too. 

However, the research suggests that this could be down to high expectations, with customers expecting a certain kind of experience (based on both previous interactions and brand reputation).

In this sense, Ocado must be doing something right.

Indeed, thanks to investment in voice biometric technology, it has demonstrated its intent on differentiating itself through tech. With its related app, customers can now choose and modify their online orders via Amazon’s Alexa.

This aside, Ocado also ensures loyal customers are kept happy with extra perks, such as free gifts at the checkout and a no quibble money-back or replacement policy if there’s an issue with products.

7. Hive – chat in-app and pro-active service

An offshoot of British Gas, Hive sells smart devices to measure and control utility services in the home. Its product is just one part of the story, however, with the brand aiming to act as a support system every step of the way.

Repair and maintenance (and how quick it happens) is key. So, instead of just telling customers they’ve got a problem, Hive aims to provide the solution as soon as possible.

Its online ‘support’ section is a big part of this, providing customers with comprehensive product guides and FAQ’s. However, another area that elevates the CX is its app’s chat service, which enables the brand to respond and solve issues in minutes.

Instead of spending time emailing (and waiting for a reply) or potentially calling up to be put on hold, customers can use the chat service on-the-go. It also means that there is a direct line of communication between the brand and customers at all times, providing reassurance and assistance whenever things go wrong – or even just for general queries.

hive app chat hive app chat

In a market where customers are growing ever more inclined to switch, Hive’s CX helps to ensure that customers will stay satisfied and loyal to the brand over time.

8. Harry’s razors – quality, convenience and value

Dollar Shave Club was the first razor blade subscription brand to appear on the market (along with a great CX in its own right). However, Harry’s proves that a focus on customer experience can help challenger brands to compete, alongside a decent media budget.

It also shows how marketing can be subjective, with customers making a choice based on what they value the most.

While Dollar Shave Club focuses on humour and convenience, Harry’s is all about high-quality razors and fair prices. The latter enables Harry’s to differentiate itself, focusing its efforts on attracting customers looking for a more sophisticated and understated product. The brand also takes a stance on social issues to further carve out its own identity, promoting issues that typically affect men, such as mental health and societal expectations.

With convenience central to the subscription model, Harry's delivers on that too. It offers trials, free delivery, and total control for customers. Again, a service similar to Dollar Shave Club, but enhanced by a commitment to ‘precision-honed blades’ that are created with care (and sold at fair prices).

Another plus is the ability to buy a set from Harry’s without entering into a subscription, which gives the brand another edge against its rivals.

9. Sephora – recommendations and reminders

Another brand that effectively brings together the online and offline customer experience is Sephora – the giant of the beauty world. Recognising the fact that shopping for beauty products both in-store and online can be overwhelming, it has invested in technology to make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Its ‘Virtual Artist’ app uses AR to allow users to preview how products might look on their own face, while its ‘Color IQ’ service allows customers to find their perfect make-up shades in-store. By offering these services, it ensures that customers receive a personal and highly valuable experience regardless of where or how they’re browsing.

The brand also uses data to great effect, tracking consumer behaviour across all channels to deliver timely and relevant marketing. Essentially, this means that Sephora can pre-empt customer needs, reminding them of products they have previously interacted with or might potentially be interested in.

It might sound a bit too ‘creepy’ for some, but with beauty typically based on recommendations and reviews, this kind of communication (if relevant) is often enough to keep customers loyal.

sephora email

More on CX:

customer experience management best practice guide (subscriber only)

Nikki Gilliland

Published 10 May, 2018 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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