Customer Experience: the secrets of big brands

Picture by Omer Wazir

This week, after briefly introducing the concept of customer experience and highlighting 4 reasons why you should consider it for your business, we’re going to cover how big brands build their Customer Experience. You’re in for the good and… the rather extreme!

First of all, I can’t write this article without mentioning Apple. They’re known for building a unique customer experience, so much so that you feel special just by walking into an Apple Store (and feel like you’re in Disney Land, right?). This is supported by their philosophy which they have named “5 steps of service”. These 5 stages identify as:

A = Approach Customers with a personalized, warm welcome

P = Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs

P = Present a solution for the customer to take home today 

L = Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns

E = End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return

Apple even trains their “Geniuses”, aka their store assistants, so that they all deliver a consistent and streamlined customer experience. In the summer of 2012, the training manual used by the company was leaked online and gave great insight as to how they develop their strategy. In these few pages, we learn that all employees have to go through a 14-day training that covers every aspect of their job, from giving fearless feedback to psychological exercises. One thing that I found really interesting was the part on the words employees were not allowed to say. It is indeed believed that negativity should be banned from all selling transactions, and this includes the language they use when interacting with the client. In this sense, “Geniuses” should not use “bug” but “issue” or “condition” for example.

Freelancer Takeaway: This rather extreme example shows us two key things. The first one is that preparation is key. You must determine what it is you want to convey to your customer, and this must be consistent with your brand (e.g. do you want to be seen as a friendly figure or a rather serious one?, etc.). While preparing for any event that might occur (complaints, problems, enquiries, etc.), you have to be aware that it’s simply not possible to control every aspect of the customer experience. You can control things from your end, but once they are out there, you’re simply powerless as to how the client will perceive them and will behave (think in terms of word-of-mouth, for example – how much can you control what is being said about you?). So try to prepare as much as you can, but don’t stress over things that are simply out of your power.

Another interesting example is Burberry. Burberry went from a rather dull-looking brand to a line that everyone wanted to have in their closet. This 7-year transformation included integrating the digital experience into their physical stores. One good illustration of this multimedia embedding is the launch of a catwalk video when a client takes a piece of clothing to the changing room, or Burberry Bespoke, a website that gives the visitor the possibility to fully customize their iconic trench coat. Why did Burberry engaged in such a massive change? Because they realized that the people who were the most likely to increase their sales were the Millenials, young people who were born in the digital age and who grew up with the Internet. Through these strategies, they try to get closer to their interest and to attract them on their ground.

Freelancer Takeaway: It is imperative to know who your clients are. This will determine many factors such as the way you communicate with them, the medium you use (do they prefer to be called on the phone or does a quick email will do?) and how you sell to them. You have to find what makes them tick!

The last example I will mention here is the one of Amazon. There’s a reason why Amazon ranked first in the Foresee Experience Index of 2013. In a very insightful letter to his shareholders, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, shared very inspiring lines of action. Amazon has been investing in innovative technology which allows them to be aware of micro-level issues (i.e. issues faced by customers). On such a broad website (or should I say websites, since Amazon launched various branches in the past couple of years), you can clearly see why it is considered as such a feat. Let me illustrate this by an example. Should a customer experience poor video playback while renting a movie on Amazon Video On Demand, they would receive the following email:

“We noticed that you experienced poor video playback while watching the following rental on Amazon Video On Demand: Casablanca. We’re sorry for the inconvenience and have issued you a refund for the following amount: $2.99. We hope to see you again soon. “ (source)

That’s right. Because they invested in the right technology, they were able to prevent negative word-of-mouth and negative customer experience by acting in a quick and proactive way. They sent that email well before the customer even had the time to complain. How’s that for customer service?

Freelancer Takeway: Okay, I’m not saying that you should pay your client back should they face a problem with your translation. But let’s think about it. The process of translation can be filled with problems, from technology problems (no Internet connection, which means that you can’t do research, your laptop died, there’s something wrong with your favorite CAT tool, etc.) to personal ones (you have an accident or catch a serious virus that leaves you unable to work for a long period of time). This is something you can prevent, by implementing back-up strategies (have a second laptop you can use, know a nearby location where you can get Wifi, have a back-up translator who can help you out, etc.). If you’re caught by surprise and have no alternative resources, you should try to find a way to satisfy your client no matter what. It can be through prices, yes (although I’m sure you would agree that for us translators, it would not be the best option), but it can be on other levels as well: time of delivery, added services, etc. The main point here is to exceed your client’s expectations, even when things go off track.

This is it for this week! Hopefully these few examples inspired you to create your own customer experience strategy or gave you some food for thought. Next week, we’ll discuss some practical steps you can take in order to improve your customer experience. See you then!

4 Responses to Customer Experience: the secrets of big brands

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *