I moved to the United States recently. On being asked what is the difference in the way business is being done here as compared to other geographies that I have been to, I had to respond that it has to be all about customer experience. This in general true across companies, scale of business and region. For instance, there are simply no questions asked on customer returns, plenty of no obligation trials and numerous occasions where sales representative go out of the way to help you.
I am sure there are many great companies out there, but nevertheless I wanted to pen down a few where I had a great feeling interacting making my purchases which turned me into being a loyal customer of their brand. This is entirely my personal experience and in no way meant to be exhaustive.
Brands with Awesome customer service
#1. Trader’s Joe
Yes, I never imagined that a grocery chain would be on top of my list. But yes, it is. What started as a small retail outlet in California in 1950’s, is now a chain with over 450 stores. The company stocks much lesser number of SKUs (to the order of one-tenth) as compared to any typical store, however, it has the best quality food with highest quality standards. However, what sets Trader’s Joe apart is actually the environment and the staff.
The very moment you step into the store, you feel the warmth and get the sense of being welcomed. Every single staff is lively and would make it a point to help you in whatever manner possible. It is not at all difficult to make out that people love their job. Return policy is a step beyond the US standards. I am told that even if you were to eat something and tell them you didn’t like it, they would refund you the entire money!
What amazes me about Trader’s Joe is also the consistency. There has not been a single time that I came out without feeling nice about being there.
Climate changes very fast out here in Texas. At times you need to cancel your vacation due to weather alerts. It was one such occasion where inclement weather forced me to try cancelling / postponing our hotel reservation. Though I had a non-cancellable booking, the representative on the call, went out of the way to request hotel on my behalf. She could have simply asked us to call directly. This small incident made me a loyal customer of Hotels.com.
Online hotel booking, I guess, is a business with very low differentiation. The prices are more or less the same everywhere. Even if it is slightly higher, I still make my reservations through Hotels.com knowing that I can always reach customer support and get a quality response.
#3. Discover Bank
A bank with no physical branches. Are you kidding me? That was my first reaction when someone asked me to open an account with Discover. Though initially I was opposed to the idea, a few calls to the customer service changed my entire perspective. I was always able to connect within a few seconds and talk to a knowledgeable representative who can quickly check and answer my queries. Both the pace and quality of response is amazing. I have recommended the bank to my colleagues, a few times already.
What makes customer service great?
When serving a customer, many things don’t require any specialized knowledge; it is more a matter of going that extra mile so that customer remains loyal and your brand has a top recall whenever he is looking for something that you offer.
Sales representative and customer support personnel are great ambassadors of your brand. All the above companies have been able to promote the culture of genuinely helping customers within their staff. Thus it can be said that how efficiency the customer facing groups are equipped technically and behaviorally can make a world of difference.
Its a myth that only large companies are focusing on customer experience today. The small firm have an advantage of being focused and with better alignment vis-a-vis the vision of the organization. Cost effective software solutions can help them compete with their larger counterparts.