Expert advice and real business examples on how to deliver great customer service.
Ordering from Australian beauty brand Go-To Skincare is a treat – and not just for your skin. Why? Because they aim to always surprise and delight their customers.
From the little product samples when you order to the quick and quirky responses from their customer service team: Now you’ve made our day, please go and enjoy the rest of your day! and the thorough purchase-to-delivery communication funnel that keeps you updated every step of the way, Go-To has successfully combined brilliant products with a great retail experience and customer service.
No wonder they’ve built a loyal community of skincare lovers – the Go-To Gang – and a 12K waiting list for their next product.
The good news is that any business – whether product - or service-based – can capitalize on the benefits of great customer service. Below, we reveal more excellent examples of great customer experiences, with advice from experts, to inspire you.
“It begins with preventing negative emotions, with strategies such as reducing customer hassle and training frontline teams,” says Toporek, who adds that eliminating friction paves the way for customer journeys that delight shoppers and engender their loyalty.
"Great customer service creates a positive, emotionally resonant moment with the customer."
US customer service and experience expert Shep Hyken has worked with brands such as IBM and Lexus, and is the chief amazement officer at Shepard Presentations. He emphasizes that “great customer service is not a department, it’s a philosophy to be embraced by everyone – from the CEO to the most recently hired employee.”
“The idea is to create an experience – either for your outside customer or internal customer – that supports them, makes their job easier and gives them what they want in the easiest and most frictionless way possible,” he explains.
From big retail brands to small businesses, here are nine more examples of great customer service done brilliantly:
“Great customer service is not a department, it’s a philosophy to be embraced by everyone.”
Despite primarily being a lingerie company, US retailer Knix offers an extremely flexible “30-day Wash & Wear Guarantee” returns policy as the company believes it takes a few wears to create a comfortable fit
“All Knix bras, tops (including bodysuits), masks, and leakproof nursing pads are eligible for return or exchange within 30 days of delivery. We want to make sure you can give your new top time to mold to your shape and get comfortable. Do what you want to do in it, and wash it as much as you like. If you find the fit still isn't right, message us to get a personal fit consultation before returning for the right size.” – Knix return policy
Knix’s brand philosophy is to revolutionize underwear as functional and adaptable to all body shapes and sizes – they want their retail customers to love their products and have aligned their returns policy with their mission. They also make it easy to exchange and return online, creating a hassle-free process for the retail customer.
Nomad Cosmetics, a US travel-inspired beauty brand, takes its retail customers around the world via the products, dedicating each palette to a place. In every order, Nomad includes a handwritten postcard relating to the destination of the palette purchased. This thoughtful touch builds a connection with the customer in a way that is uniquely related to the brand.
It’s an approach Hyken recommends: “Figuring out how to get deep inside the emotional side [of your customer will help] create a personalized experience.”
“Figuring out how to get deep inside the emotional side [of your customer will help] create a personalized experience.”
He explains that personalized customer experiences create loyalty as they stir emotions and make customers feel valued. Every year, Shepard Presentations surveys over 1,000 US consumers to deliver their Achieving Customer Amazement Survey Report (ACA Report) to help retailers better understand customers’ preferences, habits and wants. The 2021 ACA report found that 75 percent are more likely to be loyal to a company or brand that delivers a personalized experience.
3. Take a personable approach - like Lululemon
When shoppers enter the fitting rooms at global activewear brand Lululemon, retail staff ask for their names and write them on the doors in the fitting room. If you’re a regular, they don’t even have to ask...
By getting on a first-name basis during the fitting-room process, you immediately connect with the retail customer service assistant helping you. When you’re remembered the next time you shop, you get that warm-and-fuzzy feeling and feel valued.
Implementing ways to get your customer’s name while they shop, as part of fitting-room assistance, by writing their name on their shopping basket or by making it part of the service process, is a clever and effective strategy.
You can create that same personalized feeling with online orders, too:
Include customers’ first names in post-purchase communications
Add a note to an order thanking them for a repeat purchase
Send an email acknowledging their repeat orders and rewarding their loyalty
It’s all about building good connections and showing customers you notice and appreciate their loyalty and business.
4. Offer a frictionless payment process - like ASOS
British online fashion and cosmetic retailer ASOS makes it quick and easy for customers to complete a purchase. If you have an account, all your information is stored and ready to go. If not, they provide options to use Apple Pay or social media platforms, or to check out as a guest.
Checkout information is all displayed on one page with a progress indicator, so the customer can see the complete checkout journey and how long it will take from the start. A range of delivery options and, most importantly, payment options are also available.
“Easy, rapid payment and checkout options are one example of excellent online customer service”
“One example of excellent online customer service is easy, rapid payment and checkout options,” advises Toporek. “Fair or not, online shopping experiences are being benchmarked against experiences like Netflix, which are incredibly well-designed and frictionless 99.9 percent of the time. Excellence comes from meeting and exceeding these expectations.”
Despite ASOS selling products and brands that are found elsewhere, customers feel comfortable shopping with them because of the seamless, frictionless experience and great customer service. “If two companies are identical but one is delivering a positive experience, who do you think the customer is going to [shop with]?” emphasizes Hyken.
Tip: Afterpay Express Checkout offers a quick and easy rapid payment option. It reduces the amount of checkout steps by enabling customers to check out directly from the shopping bag or product page using their previously saved Afterpay information. Talk about great customer service.
5. Add post-purchase value to boost great customer service - like Bed Threads
Australian linen bedding company Bed Threads includes information on how to care for the linen you just bought, a thank-you note, a fabric swatch card and, often, a discount code. The company simultaneously provides helpful information on the product you just purchased while encouraging your next purchase.
“The customer’s focus is on the product they just acquired. ”
“Post-purchase, the customer’s focus is on the product they just acquired,” says Toporek, “and FAQs, instructional videos or care instructions can all be powerful ways to both reinforce the connection to the brand and to prevent possible future customer service issues.”
6. Reward loyal fans - like Smashbox Cosmetics
US cosmetics brand Smashbox has focused on creating great customer service experiences that excite and reward shoppers – from its Smashcash loyalty rewards program to partnering with the ModiFace makeup app, which allows customers to virtually try products before buying using augmented reality.
The business uses Smashcash and social media “listening” and engagement to identify their most loyal fans, and rewards them by letting them be the first to try new products and access exclusive offers. Paired with their focus on user-generated content (UGC) on social media – sharing and engaging with it – they’ve built a loyal Smashbox community.
7. Provide experts on call - like esmi Mineral Skincare
Great customer experience is so important at beauty brand esmi Skin Minerals that founder Evette Hess created a neon sign that reads “exceptional customer care” for her head office.
One way that the natural skincare brand delivers exceptional service is to hire trained skincare professionals to work on the customer service team. They respond to questions, phone calls or social media DMs from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. every night.
Those customer support staff not only help esmi clients with information about products they are considering buying, they also offer post-purchase support. Hess explains, “[Customers] might reach out to our skin service and say, ‘Hey I’m just about to apply Pomegranate [brightening serum] and I’ve got the hyaluronic and the oil and I’m wondering how do I apply this?’”
This high-level engagement and great customer service keeps esmi’s customers flocking back for more.
8. Listen carefully to customers - like Marks & Spencer
Over the past few years, UK retail chain Marks & Spencer implemented a global customer service listening and insights program in order to get quick and more comprehensive customer insights and feedback.
Previously, they had been using a mystery shopper program (sending one mystery shopper to visit each store per month to critique service). By investing in a fresh voice-of-customer (VOC) approach and software, they were able to glean insights that helped them quickly identify team training needs, customers’ differing opinions on brands in different countries, when store refurbishments were needed and the importance of keeping repeat customers.
What makes this an even better example of great customer service? They didn't just take note of the feedback, they made changes and launched initiatives based on customer data and insights to improve service, store layouts, payment process and fitting-room experiences.
According to a recent survey by consumer research organization Which?, Marks & Spencer received five stars across the board for “Speed of dealing with your issue” and “Efficiency of resolving issue” – suggesting that their new approach to customer listening is working.
9. Train staff in customer service - like Outdoor Voices
American activewear brand Outdoor Voices encourages great customer service by training their employees through a gamified learning solution.
The LMS platform they use, Wisetail, has a customized vibrant and easy-to-use interface that makes the training experience enjoyable for team members. It houses all the training and communication devised for the company, and engages employees in the training process in a “fun” way that’s aligned with the brand - and offers prizes and contests.
According to Hyken, “you can’t afford not to” invest in training your team and building a great customer service culture.
“Investing in your employees ends up costing far less than the acquisition of new customers. ”
“If a customer comes in and has a bad experience, they leave. Say that customer never comes back – what costs the company more?” he asks. “Investing in your employees to ensure they deliver the right experience ends up costing far less than the acquisition of new customers.”