Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Taking Care of Business

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I often write about customer experiences gone wrong - because it's so easy and happens so often - but when things go right, I like to share the stories and give kudos, as well (like I did in a recent post about a furniture shopping experience).

Unfortunately, it doesn't happen very often. We need to fix that, no?

Here's my story.

I was in a little fender bender two weeks ago. I was totally incidental to the main incident, but my car was damaged, nonetheless. (My kids and I were OK.) I'll spare you the details of the accident because it was pretty ridiculous.

I've been a member of AAA for the last 26 years, and they provide my auto insurance. I pay for membership every year, and I rarely, if ever (knock on wood), need their roadside or insurance services. Thank goodness. But I must say that it's nice to know they are there for me when I do need them. Like they were two weeks ago.

The accident happened late on a Saturday night, as my boys and I left an Anaheim Ducks hockey game. The police called an Auto Club towing service, and after waiting more than an hour for the tow truck driver to arrive, he finally showed up. Unfortunately, he didn't have room for the three of us in his cab, so he called for another truck and told us the next driver would arrive in 10 minutes. Ten minutes turned into an hour, and we were exhausted. This is where I'd normally start to write about how bad the experience continued to be, but things took a drastic change for the good here, believe it or not.

The second driver, Tomas, was like an angel sent to help us! He was kind, friendly, and service-oriented. On the drive to my dealership to drop off the car, Tomas spoke about how he didn't care what level of AAA membership I had or anyone had; he treated everyone the same. He believed in providing the best service for his customers (his words); he assured me that he'd drop off the car wherever I needed it dropped and would take us home quickly after that. I sat in the dark in the front seat with a smile on my face. It was a stressful night, and he just made me relax for the first time since the accident.

I've written about the partner experience a few times in the past, but this is a great example of how taking great care when selecting (and keeping) your partners can make all the difference in the customer experience.

Your partners are as much a part of the customer experience as your own own employees are. Choose your partners wisely.

The next morning, Sunday, I called AAA to file my claim. The agent on the phone was so charming and delightful. Her first concern was to make sure the kids and I were OK. She took all of the information about the accident and asked a lot of questions, but she made me feel at ease and assured me that she would take care of everything for me. Ironically, her computer wasn't working (why does that always happen? perhaps for another blog post...), and she ended up taking down all my information on paper. She promised she'd call me once the computer was back up.

She called, but I wasn't available, but to my surprise, she left me a very detailed voicemail with all the information I would need to get through the next 24 hours, including:
  • Name and phone number of the agent taking my case
  • Claim number
  • Rental car information
Yes! She even reserved a car with Enterprise for me. Could it really be that easy?!

On Monday morning, a friend took me to pick up the car, and when I returned home, my assigned agent called me. He confirmed all the details, explained what was going to happen from here on out, and assured me he'd send me a check to cover the towing and a check for a new booster seat (legally, you have to replace a car seat that's been in an accident), both of which made me very happy.

The agent took great care of me. We communicated a few times by email, and his emails were always friendly, professional, and in an "in your service" type of tone. I loved it. An interesting thing that I noted in his emails was his manager's name and phone number. When I called him and got his voicemail, I noticed that his outgoing message stated that if I wanted to provide feedback to his manager or if his service was not to my expectations, I could contact his manager; he provided her name and phone number there, as well.

A short while later, I got a call from the claims adjuster to let me know that he'd be going to see the car. After he was finished reviewing the damage, he called to let me know what the dealership would do and how AAA would take care of things. Two days later, I received a copy of the estimate for the damages, just as we'd discussed on the phone.

Sure enough, they took care of everything. The car was ready in a couple days, the checks arrived a week later, and I was so surprised at how easy and pain-free they made the whole situation.

A few days later, I received a handwritten thank you note from the agent: "Thank you for your continued membership with the Auto Club. It was a pleasure to assist you." Nice touch.

You can only imagine my delight about this entire experience. A couple of takeaways for you:

1. Your partners are a critical touchpoint in your customer journey. Choose them wisely.
2. Especially during stressful times, agents should express empathy and extreme patience. 
3. Take the time to explain a detailed process, if there is one.
4. Be real. Be helpful. Genuinely want to help your customers.
5. Keep your promises.
6. Communicate frequently. 
7. Be responsive.
8. Provide all the details about what the customer can expect.
9. Interact with customers as if you are "in their service." Because you are.
10. Always thank your customers for their business. 
Take care of your customers, and they will take care of you. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Two Wrongs Don't Make it Right

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Several people have asked me for my thoughts on the big airline news last week, the merger of American Airlines and USAirways. You know that I'm more than happy to weigh in, especially on the heels of the controversial American Airlines rebrand.

In a nutshell, my assessment is this:

"Two wrongs don't make a right."

Here's the problem - and I'm going to repeat myself a bit, given what I wrote about with regards to the American rebrand: There's really no good news for consumers. And while there are many reasons these mergers need to happen, I would hope that, through it all, there would be some acknowledgement from the airlines regarding the real impact on their employees and their customers, good or bad. I'm talking about the experience.

My fear is that, with this merger, it's all bad. Why?
  • Fewer airlines = fewer choices/options. Gone are the days of the pilot saying, "We know you have many choices when you fly. Thank you for choosing us."
  • Airfares will likely go up (but potentially for a variety of reasons).
  • And most importantly, there's still no mention of a greater focus on the people and the people experience.
On the website that American created to tell us about the merger, they have a section called Customer Benefits. Yes, they talk about the travel experience. But they don't mention the people experience. What are they doing to ensure their employees are engaged? What are they doing to train their employees on how to deliver the best experience for their customers? What hiring practices have they implemented to ensure that there's a solid cultural fit? Better yet, how would they define their culture? What are the core values of the new American?

Speaking of culture, it sounds like USAirways, while accustomed to acquisitions, has a mess of a culture. That toxic environment will combine with the American culture, and then you'll have an even bigger mess. 1.2 million people (combined number of employees) worth of bigger mess. And you think you've seen some cranky agents and flight attendants before?!

Since American didn't tell us what we can expect with regards to the customer experience, let's see what the experts have to say.

The Wall Street Journal told us that, in 2012, American ranked dead last in performance, with metrics such as these considered: on-time results, number of cancellations, excessive delays, mishandled baggage, bumped passengers, and complaints filed. Let's fix the policies and procedures that result in these failures, and let's train employees to handle them in a way that doesn't result in a miserable experience. I'm thinking about something as "simple" as communication, proactive, clear, and ongoing!

The Temkin Group tells us that US Airways and American were at the very bottom of the list in 2012 when it comes to customer experience rankings. These ratings are based on consumer feedback.

Trip Advisor airline ratings show only 50% would recommend American, while only 41% would recommend US Airways. Compare that to JetBlue (91%) and Southwest (93%).

Airfarewatchdog ranks American at #9 and US Airways at #8 out of 10 airlines.

J.D. Power and Associates gives us ratings for "traditional airlines," as opposed to low-cost airlines in their 2012 airline study. US Airways experience ratings are especially dismal, and American lands in the middle of the 7-airline pack.

Nothing to write home about.

Ironically, one AP writer stated that the merger "will elevate both airlines to the same level as Delta and United." Lord help us. While Delta's service levels seem to have improved (confirmed by The Wall Street Journal results noted above), United continues to fail miserably. And what part of that United-Continental merger left customers happy? I shared some of their lip service in a post I wrote last March, titled The Experience Speaks Louder Than Words.

OK, that's the end of my musings on the American Airlines rebranding and merger debacles. I honestly hope they figure it out and start putting people first. As for me, on to more-exciting and more-important things in the coming weeks! Time to move on...

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  -Victor Frankl

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How's the Customer Experience of Your VOC Program?

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today I am pleased to present another guest post by Sarah Simon.

In the greater VoC/CX industry, we talk all the time about using the Voice of the Customer to drive action that results in a superior customer experience.  I want to talk about turning this idea on its head: Use your customer experience goals and best practices to shape your VoC program.
We are so used to talking about Customer Experience as an outcome of VoC that we easily forget that how a customer experiences our VoC program indeed impacts, or is part of, their experience with our company.  By getting both of these elements aligned, you purposely improve the impression you make on your customer through your feedback initiative.

Here’s how.

1. Design  a Comprehensive Fatigue Management Plan
All of us, as consumers and as B2B clients, are bombarded with requests for our input.  Survey invites lurk in our inboxes; messages on the bottom of our store receipts implore us to “share our feedback;” and kind voices on the telephone ask us to “participate in a short consumer study.”

While VoC practitioners cannot control the behavior of other companies, we can control how and when we survey our own customers. Be mindful of how often you request the opinions of your customers. Evaluate your feedback program as a whole, considering all solicited listening channels across your entire organization, and a design a purposeful cadence for soliciting customer feedback.  Put the customer’s need for peace and quiet above your need to drive higher response rates. Commit to limiting the number of times you contact a customer per time period and make no exceptions, adhering to a customer-respecting cadence appropriate to your service delivery model.

2. Open Your Ears to Customer-Centric Multi-Channel Feedback
Think outside the survey; open your eyes and ears to other forms of collecting input from your customers. Let go and let customers share their opinions with you on their terms: when and how they wish.  Allow for unsolicited feedback opportunities, including social media, client forums, electronic “comment cards” on your website, or QR codes. Go mobile and encourage customers to share feedback from their smartphones. And don’t forget passive listening channels, such as customer call or chat data capture.

Sure, this data is a little “messy,” but text analytics technology makes it realistic to garner insights from raw, unstructured customer feedback. You benefit from honest, off-the-cuff customer ideas not penned in by radio buttons and rating scales, while your customer enjoys the freedom of sharing opinions on his own terms.

3. Customer-Friendly Survey Design
Volumes have been written on optimal survey design, but here is a basic summary of practices to make your surveys customer-friendly:

Keep surveys short! Strive for a one-page form. You would not want to answer a 20-question survey, and neither does your customer. Not sure if your survey is the right length? Ask your colleagues to test-take the survey and afterward probe for when they tuned out or got frustrated. This doesn’t take as long as you think!

Make survey content targeted and pertinent to your respondent. The survey should focus on one targeted element of the customer’s experience with your company: a specific touchpoint, one particular lifecycle stage, or a high-level relationship evaluation. Resist the temptation to sneak “extra” questions into your survey, forcing the survey – and the respondent - to cover too much ground. Ensure the survey questions are pertinent to the respondent and the way that she interacts with your company.

Build consistency into the program. Standardize branding, look and feel, rating scales, and tone across all feedback gathering initiatives to ensure a predictable customer experience across your VoC program.

4. Tactical and Strategic Closed-Circuit, 360-Degree Feedback Loops
Customers invest their time when they provide their feedback, yet too many companies demand feedback from their customers and offer the customer no return on this investment. Tactical service recovery opportunities occur when customers bring an issue to your attention. An “unhappy customer” survey alert can be generated, giving a business unit the chance to reach out to that customer and resolve a bad situation.

Longer term, you owe it to your customers to shed some light on the strategic changes being made in response to their input. In response to customer input, maybe you’ve streamlined your support desk IVR process, expanded the shuttle bus service from your hotel, increased the gluten-free offerings at your restaurant, or added a new feature to your SaaS solution. Tell your customers about these improvements and let them know they have been heard!

A VoC initiative that is company-focused and not customer-focused risks driving a wedge between your company and your customers. The goal of a VoC initiative is to generate insights that improve the customer experience for improved business performance.  What a shame, then, that many organizations run VoC programs that actually damage the relationship with the customer!

Evaluate your VoC program today against the four points above, and carefully consider the impact it has upon the customer experience. Your listening program is, after all, part of the overarching customer experience and must be aligned with your CX accordingly. Take actions to reduce survey fatigue, offer multichannel feedback options, make your surveys customer-friendly, and close the feedback loop.

Sarah Simon is a career insights professional with 16 years of experience in the feedback industry. Specialties include VoC architecture, journey mapping, developing linkages to business performance, reduction of customer defection, results analysis and communication, with expert survey design skills.  She is the survivor of a botched early-generation "big data mining" operation and is happy to live to tell about it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Super Bowl, Advertising, and the Customer Experience

Did you watch the Super Bowl for the game? Or did you watch for the commercials? What did you think of the commercials?

Robert Stephens of Geek Squad said, "Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable." After the Super Bowl, I tweeted: "Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable. What happens when your advertising is unremarkable too?"

Check out Tom Fishburne's (Marketoonist) recent cartoon to get a sense of how he feels about the commercials.

I don't know; was it me, or was this one of the worst Super Bowls for commercials? I wasn't impressed. I kept thinking, "Wow. These advertisers must think their customers are all stupid. Or they just don't know their customers." I had some friends text me the same thought, and I've read other reviews that weren't so kind.

I think the commercials have really gotten to be more about the company than the customer, if that makes sense. It's like they've all been reduced to: "Let's try so hard to make something cute and something funny so that people will talk about how clever we are and forget about how awful we are to them."

What's the purpose of advertising? I went to Entrepreneur magazine for a great definition and list of its purposes:

Advertising provides a direct line of communication to your existing and prospective customers about your product or service. The purpose of advertising is to:
  • Make customers aware of your product or service;
  • Convince customers that your company's product or service is right for their needs;
  • Create a desire for your product or service;
  • Enhance the image of your company;
  • Announce new products or services;
  • Reinforce salespeople's messages;
  • Make customers take the next step (ask for more information, request a sample, place an order, and so on); and
  • Draw customers to your business.
I'd add that it supports the brand purpose and the brand promise - and helps to create the connection and that desire to belong to that brand. How about throwing in something about the customer experience, their people, etc. (Maybe "the helpful Honda guy" was the closest commercial to achieving that?)

These commercials during the Super Bowl tried so hard that they failed. Too many of them caused us to scratch our heads and say, "Huh?" And while that's memorable, it's memorable for the wrong reason. And then * poof * ... that memory is gone.

I tend to (no, I do) agree, though, with Robert Stephens. I'll pull Zappos into this and say that I've never seen a commercial for Zappos, and I can't remember the last time I saw one for Amazon, and yet today, when I go shopping, I will buy something from one of those sites. Why? Because I've had great experiences with both. Not because of a cutesy commercial.

The good news (or bad news) is that, here it is a few days later, and I don't really remember much about the Super Bowl commercials anymore. There were a couple of memorable ones, but other than the reviews by the media and by bloggers, they are already all a distant memory. Pretty sad for those companies who spent $4 million for a 30-second spot, only to get zero recall out of it.

Much can be learned from the likes of Zappos, Amazon, Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, and other service notables. Save your money. Spend your advertising budget on things that matter: the employee and the customer experiences.

The consumer isn't a moron. She is your wife. -David Ogilvy

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

3 Ways to Use CRM Software to Enhance the Customer Experience

Today I'm pleased to present a guest post by Erica Bell.

The customer experience is what keeps customers coming back. While customer service, products, and brand reputation all influence a consumer’s decision, these are only part of what turns a first-time buyer into a loyal customer. Every business looks for ways to manage their customers, create audience-targeted marketing campaigns, and appeal to new audiences. One software solution many businesses don’t make the most of is their CRM or sales software. Businesses can use this software to collect not only customer information but also their feedback to enhance the experience.

Collect Call Center Feedback

The first step in enhancing the customer experience is determining where your business currently stands. Use your CRM software to collect/store customer feedback. Anytime a customer writes in or hops on the phone to get in touch with your customer service call center, make sure information beyond the basic is being recorded. Customer service representatives need to be asking customers how your product or service made them feel - a form of Voice of the Customer through the Employee (VOCE). The customer experience is all about the emotions a customer experiences when they interact with your brand. Whether it’s via social media or in-store, it shouldn’t matter. If a customer is calling or emailing your business, always ask about their experience. You can find areas for improvement and then determine what improvement strategies will yield the greatest ROI.

Integrate with Social
Your customers are using social media; you must be, too. You need to integrate your CRM software with the conversations going on about your business and your brand on social media. There are a number of software applications that can help you with social listening. Once you’ve determined what is being said about your business and by whom, make sure to record the information into your CRM system so you can determine what trends are taking place. Are customers satisfied or upset with a certain product? Do they like your website’s ease of use? Use your software to create a report that lists what common complaints and praises customers have of your business. Social conversations are just another customer listening post; listening to customers on social media allows you to
determine where your business can improve - on social networks and in other aspects of the business.

Evaluate Your Team
Which call center representatives are leaving customers with smiles on their faces from great service and a great experience and which aren't? Train your team well and remind them every now and then that each call, email, or tweet impacts the customer’s experience. While a high turnover rate is not something a business wants to deal with, you should be making sure that your employees are the best.  Use your CRM software to automate follow-ups that ask customers to evaluate their interactions with your customer care team. Again, the customer experience is about how a customer feels when interacting with your business. Your customer care team is the front line and should be making customers feel comfortable when ordering or satisfied when a problem is resolved. 

CRM software has to bring all of your team members and other organization departments together, allow them to work together, and facilitate access to, and action based on, customer data. Any time a customer contacts your business, whether it’s an email, call or Facebook post, record the information. Your CRM software can provide your business with insight into trends, what’s working and what’s not, and help with analysis when making decisions. Collect customers’ information and feedback and use the compiled data to create a better customer experience.

Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as customer service call center software and social media trends. She is a web content writer for Business.com.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How Social is Your Customer Service?

Image courtesy of Pixabay
A couple weeks ago, the team at Software Advice published the results of The Great Social Customer Service Race. On the heels of my recent exchanges with the team from @AmericanAir, I thought this was a great time to weigh in on social media customer service.

The Software Advice team's experiment consisted of four employees tweeting from their personal Twitter accounts to 14 top consumer brands across seven industries. They tweeted to or about each brand once a day (weekdays) for four weeks straight. The results were pretty dismal: only 14% of the tweets received a response of any kind.

There were four key findings that they highlighted in their results:
  1. Listen for your brand on Twitter, with or without the @, i.e., sometimes they tweeted with the company's Twitter name, while other times they simply mentioned the brand in a tweet. The lack of response to those tweets without the brand Twitter handle was unbelievable. These companies were note truly listening.
  2. Choose your prioritization rules carefully, i.e., your customers' expectations for response time are much shorter than you think, but not out of the realm of what I would deem realistic. The point to this findinig was that if you're automating your responses, expand your keywords and prioritize them accordingly. Software Advice advises to prioritize "tweets ... that indicate intention to buy or risk of switching brands."
  3. Track all customer service requests equally, i.e., integrate listening software with your help desk ticketing program to allow your reps to handle and process requests from social media just as they would those that come in from other channels (phone, email, chat, etc.). This will certainly keep your social media reps from stepping over each other and responding to the same tweets repeatedly.
  4. Record interactions by customer, i.e., identify "power tweeters" or influencers and nurture that relationship.
Here's what I think, based on these findings, what I've read, and my own personal experiences. Companies still don't understand that they must be addressing customer feedback, questions, comments, etc. on social media. And in a timely manner.

Remember: It is simply another channel of communication.

In the old days, we just had phones to communicate with a company. (OK, smoke signals, letters, and faxes, too, but let's not go that far back right now.) Then along came email. How did we integrate that into our customer service processes? And then came chat. Somehow, companies were able to incorporate that into their customer service platforms. Somewhere in there, customers provided feedback via surveys and other methods. (Wait. Not getting to social media just yet.) Companies have figured out how to distribute that feedback throughout the organization and, ultimately, to act on it and respond to the customer. OK, some companies don't yet get that, either.

 95% of companies collect customer feedback.  Yet only 10% use the feedback to improve, and only 5% tell customers what they are doing in response to what they heard. -Gartner

I'm still hopeful on that one.

So then there's social media. People can blog, tweet, review, like, etc. And you need to be there. If you're missing this conversation, then you're going to lose customers. Social media is, in many ways, no different than the other communication methods used in the past - I think the problem is that it's coming out of a firehose right now. There's so much of it, that you don't know how to wrangle it. It's like, well, herding cats. But you must, must, must get a handle on it. You must be a part of the conversation.
  •  Social media conversations must be integrated into your customer service or CRM platform so that it can be addressed in an efficient and effective manner.
  • Social media does not just mean Twitter. Your customers are reaching out to you and communicating with you through a variety of other sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, FourSquare, Yelp and other review sites, their blogs, etc. Like I said - the conversations are gushing out of a firehose.
  • Your social media team must also be a part of your customer service function; they cannot simply be an island out on their own. Honestly, I think that's the problem with the @AmericanAir team; they do a great job, but it certainly seems like they are not integrated with the rest of American's service team.
  • Your social media customer service team must be trained in the same manner as the team that handles phone and email service. They must have the same product and business knowledge as everyone else and be prepared to handle the same types of questions or issues.
  • Don't allow for robotic or automated responses. Customers see straight through that, and it reeks of "we don't care."
  • Social media is not a one-way conversation. (1) When someone tweets, you respond. BUT (2) you can also initiate the conversation! For example, if there's an issue, get out ahead of it; be proactive. Share information.
  • Social media is 24/7. If you're not staffed for it, let people know your hours, just like you do for your other customer service channels.
  • Conversations on social media are not always negative. There are positive tweets and posts, thank yous, and kudos. Don't ignore those.
 Why should you care? How can social media help your business? It's great for...
  • building and nurturing relationships.
  • solving problems
  • finding new customers
  • saving existing customers on the verge of leaving
  • getting ahead of an issue (proactive communication)
  • perpetuating the brand promise
  • keeping an eye on competitors
  • being real
The bottom line is, you cannot ignore it. It's not going away - just like any other mode of communication with your customers.

Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation. -Mark Twain

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. -Dorothy Nevill

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Improving the Experience for Online Apparel Retailers' Customers

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today I am pleased to present a guest post by Andrew Konoff.

Retail business is in a remarkable state of flux. Brick and mortar stores are seeing sales flatline as e-commerce soars to new heights. The face of selling is changing dramatically as new technologies evolve, but for industries like fashion, it’s hard to replicate the in-store experiences that customers have grown accustomed to.

It turns out that technology may just offer the solution. Whether you’re worried about sizing, quality, or whether or not you’ll look good in the garment, today’s e-commerce retailers are cracking the tricks behind better apparel-shopping experiences.

Tackling Vanity Sizes
Take a trip to the mall, try a dozen things on, and you’ll know pretty keenly that one size is not the same size everywhere. Lack of standardized sizing across the clothing industry already makes fitting a gamble. With ‘vanity sizing’ and imported merchandise, people can have three or four sizes of clothing in their closet at any given time.

One system is honing in on the problem of vanity sizing fit using 3D body imaging. Me-Ality provides scanning booths, called Size Matching Stations, at malls in the US and Canada.  A wand is passed around the fully dressed client for about 15 seconds, recording 200,000 points of reference  from which exact measurements are taken.

Customers are then given a printout of the sizes that they’ll fit into from a variety of different brands, effectively removing guesswork and making their confidence in online purchases just that much higher.

Online Dress-Up

Some questions customers ask are more challenging to quantify than sizing. Consumers want to know:

  • How will this look on me? 
  • Can I wear this color? 
  • Will this top go with my burgundy jeans? 
Then again, purchases can fail to excite simply because some small detail makes an item unsuitable – like badly-placed pockets, an awkward drape to the fabric, or poor construction.

Metail is a virtual fitting room that addresses these tricky questions. Working online, customers create a personalized 3D model using basic measurements and two photos.  This model can then be saved and used with all Metail retail partners.

Metail is easy to use and gives a realistic view of how clothes will look in a specific cut or color. For fun, clients can also experiment with different hairstyles, emphasizing the “dress-up” factor.

Coming in low in technology but high in effectiveness is Amazon’s attempts in the area: product videos. As you can see by pressing the video icon on some of Amazon’s clothing pages, having a short video can show the flow and movement of a garment better than any still photograph could – even if it’s a photo of you!

Metail seems more focused on the before-the-mirror-moment, when the shopper holds up the garment against himself to check variables like cut or color. Although it’s not able to give all the answers, their solution still provides valuable information for the consumer. As the sophistication of the technology involved increases, the degree to which augmented reality apps can help in purchasing decisions will increase. Imagine if those Amazon product videos were built by combining 3D models of your body and the clothes you’re trying on? That would be even easier than trying clothes on in real life!

Bespoke: Made Just For You
While technology catches up with the market, the answer to online shopping satisfaction seems to rest in bringing affordability to timeless products, and perhaps the best example of that is the bustling made-to-measure (MTM) menswear industry.

Online MTM companies like Indochino are taking the “bespoke” experience to the masses. It used to be that custom suits were confined to only the most wealthy of patrons, but that’s no longer the case. Indochino will cut, sew, and deliver a suit based on your unique measurements for under $400.

Another service they’re offering helps to bridge the gap between online and offline experiences. Because Indochino requires you to take your own measurements (preferably with the help of a friend), they’re sending a “Traveling Tailor” across the USA to help those customers who might not trust their own measuring job.

The finishing touch on Indochino’s success has got to be their exceptional customer service. To get you started on your measurements, they’ll send you a free tape measure. And in case you make a mistake, every suit they sell includes a $75 tailoring credit – and if that doesn’t get you the fit you want, they’ll remake the whole suit for free. By placing an emphasis on personalized customer services and giving unequalled value, Indochino has become the market leader. Though you have to wait four weeks before you’ll experience your custom suit, no one seems to mind the wait for their truly unique products.

Make it Memorable
Rock star businesses collect kudos from happy customers by using evolving technology to solve shoppers’ problems. Delivering a bit of an extra oomph for skeptical customers can really be what takes your initiative to a whole new level. Whether it’s by learning your complete sizing profile, seeing what a dress looks like on a real person, or having a real-life helping hand, you can’t build a truly exceptional online customer experience without giving your customers something unexpected.

Andrew is the marketing manager at GoInstant, a developer of cobrowsing technology. His writing is primarily focused on bringing customer experience management to a broader audience. You can find him on Twitter as @andrewkonoff.