Customer Experience

5 customer experiences you have to nail as a brand

We’ve all had the familiar Amazon experience. We navigate, click, and magically two days later our laundry detergent arrives. They truly are the master of retail experience, but just the other day I had an end to end experience that beat even Amazon.

Patagonia, another strong retail brand provided me a customer experience that could sway me away from my typical online experiences. In the world we live in, consumers expect everyone to provide an experience similar to Amazon’s along every stage of the journey. Here are 5 moments that Patagonia nailed along the way.

Experience #1 - Awareness

How does your brand show up digitally? We live in a world of Google searches, Facebook retargeted ads and YouTube pre-roll clips. Are you showing up there? Are people finding you? Do they already know about you?

The UPS package I received from Patagonia looked similar to others you would expect. The outdoor brand has been around for quite some time, so I didn’t need any real awareness here. They had done the groundwork with lifestyle marketing along the way. They offered an experience/brand/image/quality that I wanted to be a part of with some clothing.

If you don’t have the benefit of a decades-old brand, then your content and being searchable can be key to your awareness. Building credibility with content, partnerships, integrations, etc… can be what starts the journey towards a good customer experience.

Experience #2 - Purchase/Visit/Download/Signup

"People buy experiences, not products." CEO of Adobe Shantanu Narayen

Once you hit the awareness piece and a lead/consumer lands on your site you better hope you have a good experience waiting.

Keys to producing a good customer experience really depend upon your industry, but some basics remain.

1. Site navigation

How quickly can users find what they need to on your site? User testing or viewing paths of consumers in your analytics can help to see if there is confusion (high bounce rates) or excitement (high conversion). Continually optimizing your site and testing new experiences are crucial to an improved experience for customers.

2. Efficiency to value

If you are a SaaS product, how quickly is your user getting to value? Do you have too many steps in the signup process? Continually look for ways to reduce steps to add value.

3. Additive upsells

If applicable, look for additive upsells that would help a consumer have a better experience with a product/service they are buying.

4. Set expectations/provide training

Provide details on what to expect next or any training needed for a product within the installation process.

My experience on Patagonia’s website was easy and productive. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to buy with the gift card I received but was quickly able to navigate to some options. I was able to find a couple of shirts that fit within the price I was looking for. The website was great, clean, simple, good cart checkout, but that wasn’t what blew me away. You have to keep reading to find out one of the most crucial customer experience steps.

Experience #3 - Arrival

You made it, someone found you, went to your site, and purchased something. That is the end of the experience, right? In actuality, you are just getting started with your lifetime value of this one person.

With retail, it’s all about your packaging. Does it feel like an experience to “unbox” your item? With a SaaS business, it’s about immediate gratification. At CloudApp we try and provide immediate ease of use of the product and it provides immediate value. Just a couple of clicks and you have a screenshot, GIF, or video created and saved to your clipboard to share on Slack, email, G-Suite, wherever you need.

With Patagonia, I had lots of updates along the way. I got a status update with every UPS update and the packaging was fine. It was a clean look, had nice branding, and was what I expected. The arrival was on point with how a brand should deliver on that experience. It is a crucial place to under promise and over deliver and leads into the last touch experience that could be the most important for your brand.

Experience #4 - Support

The far too often overlooked piece of the customer experience is when something goes off course along the journey. If you do this part right it can validate, expound, and clear up the entire rest of the journey. If you do this wrong it will wipe out any other teams efforts along the way.

There is a fantastic story about Jeff Bezos being less than satisfied with wait times on Amazon’s customer service line during the holidays. During an executive team meeting, he called out his team for the long wait times and actually dialed in himself to see how long it took. To him, 4 minutes was far too long. His goal was to have wait times less than 1 minute.

The world we live in expects immediate responses, 24/7 customer support, and a good experience when something goes bad. I felt this customer service tips post showed some great insights on how to improve customer service.

1. Listen

To truly support a customer at this stage you need to actually listen. It can also be helpful to take turns working in support. At CloudApp, we have our employees take turns running support, answering social questions, and engaging with customers.

A company culture focused on improving customer success will lead to higher loyalty and a better product. That starts with solid training, opportunities for experience, and leadership by example.

2. Help customers succeed

When you truly listen to a customer, you will begin to see that product or service issues may be preventing them from success.

To truly create a customer experience it's important to understand a customer’s goals. With retail, it could be as simple as getting a refund or exchanging for a different size.

Providing a customer experience from a SaaS business could be understanding how downtime with your product affects revenue and productivity of the person seeking support. You may also see a chance to expand the pie, where your product or service could help other teams increase productivity even more.

3. Dogfood your product

In a SaaS or B2B world, your company should all be wizards at using your products or services. Dogfooding (heavily using) your own products or services in your day-to-day business can help to be proactive about finding bugs or use cases to improve the product.

Using your own product/service can also help you to be more empathetic when something doesn’t work the way you want it to. Empathy is key to customer experience.

4. Customer feedback is key

Do you actively engage with customers every day? A key to creating a good experience is being able to take both reactive and proactive feedback to improve your product/business.

Customer advisory boards, outreach to power users, and regular customer testing can all be crucial components to being active with your support. This obviously won’t prevent bugs or other issues. What this will do is create goodwill and help the product team focus on what customers want the most first.

Support was where Patagonia nailed my experience and exceeded all expectations. On their site, they say that every piece of clothing is guaranteed. After the first wash of one of my new shirts, there were some strange stains that happened, probably from the bleeding ink of the shirt.

At first, I was disappointed that it had happened and wondered if I had done something wrong. I figured I would just need to buy a new shirt, thinking it was my fault. I called the customer service line (someone answered within a couple of minutes) and told them the situation.

Within 5 minutes on the phone, I had a new shirt sent to me, a UPS sticker in my email inbox to send back the other shirt, and a big smile on my face from my first experience with Patagonia.

Final thoughts

Customer experience is more important than ever before. Customer acquisition and churn are both incredibly expensive and costly to a business’s future growth.

If the business puts a focus on creating an experience during each part of the journey  (awareness, purchase, arrival, support) you will find that loyalty will increase, referrals will grow, and accolades will occur even if it was for something as simple as exchanging the shirt of a middle-aged Dad like me.


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