Last week while I was attending the Gartner Customer 360 Summit in San Diego, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop that was focused on best practices in enabling great customer experiences. The session started with each of the 30 attendees sharing anecdotes about the most exceptional customer experiences they'd received and why they meant so much to us.Some people shared stories about highly personalized hotel experiences. Others discussed automobile service experiences that went above and beyond their expectations. The story I found most relatable was shared by a man who told us about a visit to a clothing store with his family. Not only did a group of store employees assist the entire family throughout their shopping spree, one of the store workers followed the man around all four stories of the store with a chair to accommodate him for whenever he felt the need to sit down. As my wife will attest, I always look for the "husband chair" whenever we go clothes shopping.
A key component to providing customers with exceptional experiences is through the ability to anticipate and act on their needs. This year's winners for the Gartner & 1to1 Media CRM Excellence Awards, Intuit and United Airlines, are able to accomplish this in different ways.
Intuit, this year's Gold winner for customer experience excellence, has developed a highly methodical approach to gathering, analyzing, and acting on customer feedback in a variety of ways to improve the customer experience. In addition to conducting regular surveys of the accounting professionals it serves, Intuit also hosts a number of forums throughout the year to obtain customer feedback. These include an accountant council, a group of 12 to 15 accounting and tax practitioners who are invited to one of Intuit's campuses twice each year to learn about and provide feedback on Intuit's strategy, roadmap, and products. Intuit also administers a panel of about 10,000 accountants and tax professionals who share their input through in-depth interviews and topical surveys.
United Airlines, this year's Silver award winner in customer experience excellence, saw an opportunity following its 2010 merger with Continental Airlines, to explore new and creative ways to use customer data from both MileagePlus and non-members that could help it deliver richer customer experiences. For instance, one of the more fabulous things United has recently started doing is personally recognizing customers who are about to reach a certain milestone, such as attaining a certain mileage level or if they're celebrating a birthday. The general manager or another designee at one of the 72 domestic airports that the program has been extended to fills out a hand-written thank-you card and passes it along to an agent to hand out to a celebrated customer as they scan their boarding passes when they're about to board their flights.
In some cases, delivering an exceptional customer experience is a matter of recognizing a customer by name or personalizing the experience in some other way based on information that's available about that customer. In many cases, such as the example of the husband chair, it's about anticipating a customer's needs and simply doing the right thing.
To explore these case studies in full, along with this year's other categories and winners, visit the 2013 Gartner & 1to1 Media CRM Excellence Awards website.
Download the e-book with the Gartner & 1to1 Media CRM Excellence Awards 2013 winners.