We can define the success of a company in different ways. Since my focus is on customer service and experience, that’s what I look for. If you look at the companies that have made the list I’m about to share, you would not be surprised to find that not only are they meeting and exceeding CX expectations, but they are also financially successful. The result of their efforts to create a good customer experience creates relationships that foster repeat business and loyal customers.
What makes these 10 companies—which I’ll share in just a moment—successful enough to be on this list? According to the KPMG Customer Experience Excellence Report, there are six areas, or “pillars” as they call them, that make the difference. The research shows that “their successes were built on ‘Integrity,’ acting ethically and demonstrably in their customers’ best interests; a focus on ‘Resolution,’ proactively addressing customer problems; accurately setting customer ‘Expectations’; reducing the ‘Time and Effort’ customers expend to achieve frictionless digital and, where possible, physical interactions; and delivering a ‘Personalized’ experience with ‘Empathy’ and compassion.”
The companies in the report are considered “purpose-led” companies that help create connections with their customers. In other words, customers don’t buy from these companies. They buy in to what these companies are about. Customers don’t just enjoy doing business with them because of the way they are treated; they feel an emotional connection.
“Leaders in our 2020 index maintained strong customer relationships during times of volatility, with commercial availability and cadence being at the core of this relationship,” said Julio Hernandez, U.S. customer advisory practice lead at KPMG LLP. “As customer needs and expectations adapt to the new reality, businesses need to rethink their customer engagement approaches, with a stronger reliance on digital interaction.”
KPMG surveyed more than 11,000 customers on their experiences with 300 brands regarding the six pillars and came up with the following Top Ten list:
- Navy Federal Credit Union
- Edward Jones
- In-N-Out Burger
- Costco Wholesale
- Charles Schwab
It’s interesting to note that these companies excelled in two of the six pillars, Integrity and Empathy. Integrity is about acting in the customer’s best interest, and Empathy is showing that the company cares. That said, all six pillars will drive a better customer experience. Let’s take a closer look at them.
1. Integrity: This is about trust. Everyone wants to trust the companies they do business with. If a company makes a promise, they must stand behind it. It shows in how they publicly react to difficult situations. When they do react, they put their customers first.
2. Empathy: This has become an important topic, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Empathy is about an emotional connection that shows the company understands its customers, their needs and what they may be going through.
3. Resolution: When there is a problem, customers expect the business to fix it. But it’s more than just fixing a problem. It’s about restoring confidence. It may start with an apology, but then a resolution with a sense of urgency takes this to a higher level.
4. Personalization: According to the report, personalization is the most valuable component of most experiences. Know your customers. Use their names, understand their individual needs and preferences, and give them an experience that feels personal.
5. Time and Effort: This is a powerful one, so much so that I have written an entire book about the concept of convenience. Whether customers are conscious of this or not, they want a convenient experience with minimal effort and friction. Customers gravitate toward the companies that are easy to do business with. This drives repeat business and customer loyalty.
6. Expectations: You must meet your customers’ expectations. Many say you must exceed them. If that’s your goal—and it’s a good goal to have—recognize that exceeding expectations isn’t about going “over the top” and creating a “WOW” experience every time. Consistently exceeding expectations, even if it’s just by a tiny bit, is typically all you’ll need to do.
That last one, expectations, is a good one to end on. Our customers have learned what great companies are doing to meet and exceed expectations. Customers no longer compare your company only to your direct competition. They compare you to the best service and experience they’ve received from their favorite companies and brands, including the standout companies on this list. The bar has been raised. Recognizing certain opportunities, such as excelling in these six pillars, will give you an advantage over your competition.
Study the KPMG report. Take notes on what these 10 companies did to make the list. Then adapt them to your business. While you may not make the KPMG list, you could find yourself on another list—the list of companies and brands your customers love to do business with.