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How to Execute Successful Customer Experiences

Customer Experience Retail


We’ve talked in a past post about retailers needing to take a back to basics approach when it comes to customer loyalty. Creating successful customer experiences is one of the most effective ways to build loyalty without having a loyalty program. We recently came across a couple of examples of exceptional customer experiences and wanted to share our thoughts on why they were so impactful.

How TD Exceeded Expectations On Customer Appreciation Day

In the highly regulated banking industry, TD Canada Trust is known for its excellent customer service. Winner of eight consecutive Highest Customer Service Awards given by J.D. Power, TD is committed to providing “legendary” customer service.

From basic offerings such as convenient branch hours that respect customers’ busy work schedules, to making customer service the first strategic priority on its own quality assurance scorecard, CEO Ed Clark has created a culture obsessed with providing great service at its branches. As a result, seventy-one per cent of the bank’s earnings come from its retail operations and the bank is effectively run more like a retailer.

Most people expect complimentary coffee and snacks at TD’s annual Customer Appreciation Day, and although there was plenty of that, TD took it one step further. TD measures its service on what it calls its “customer experience index” (for its US branches, they refer to it as the “WOW” index).

On July 25, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, 20,000 TD branch employees across the country simultaneously handed a green envelope containing $20 to the customer they were serving at that moment. Customers who were using phone or online banking at that hour were told they would receive a direct deposit into their accounts. How’s that for a thank you?

In addition, some TD branches had an interactive Automated Thank You Machine (ATM) installed to randomly surprise customers with gifts ranging from cash to baseball tickets, with each branch manager responsible for planning their own gifts. The resulting buzz on Twitter with the hashtag #TDThanksYou and the thousands of shares on Facebook from thrilled customers was not easy press to buy. TD’s Customer Appreciation Day initiatives succeeded on the following fronts:

  • They used an element of surprise to capture customers’ imagination
  • The retail branches solidified customer loyalty by over-delivering on customer expectations
  • The online buzz surrounding TD created an emotional connection not just with TD, but across their customer base as well

TD is a huge bank, but with this Customer Appreciation Day execution, it managed to create a community persona for its retail branches, bringing them closer to their customers.

A Fateful Train Ride With Warby Parker

In another example of superior and unexpected customer experiences, General Counsel Anjali Kumar from Warby Parker – an online retailer of eyeglasses – had been sitting across from a gentleman on a commuter train from New York City to Boston.

The gentleman had left his Warby Parker reading glasses on the train; annoyed with himself, he purchased an identical pair the next day. Shortly after, he received a package containing two pairs of the same glasses along with a copy of Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” (Warby Parker’s name comes from two different Kerouac characters), accompanied by a personal note from Kumar, indicating that they also replaced the lenses in his original pair because they were scratched.

Wow. Unexpected. Didn’t ask for it.

The customer, Michael John Mathis, was so blown away by this experience that he has vowed to be a customer for life. That Warby Parker went to such great lengths to mine their data to locate Mr. Mathis demonstrates their attention to the customer, and shows us the power of data when used effectively.

What Can Retailers Learn From These Customer Experiences?

Most retailers make the customer work hard to be rewarded: spend a lot of money and you’ll earn reward points. This is predictable and ingrained in the customer’s shopping mindset; it’s what customers grudgingly expect. There’s no real emotional connection here.

As in any relationship, it’s only when one partner introduces the element of surprise and unconditional giving – something they never even considered asking for – does the other partner feel true gratitude and an emotional bond with the other. And it’s these unexpected experiences that get shared and inspire non-customers to consider trying a retailer.

As you prepare for Q4, think about what kind of unexpected customer experiences you could offer that will create a genuine emotional connection with your brand.

To learn more about how we can help your retail business achieve success, visit our retail services page or contact us for further information.