We're all trying to get a handle on customer experience. It makes total sense to do so, especially with recent data from EConsultancy showing customer experience will trump product and price as the primary brand differentiator by 2020. 

As more companies start to understand that delivering remarkable customer experiences is a smart way to grow, many still struggle with what that looks like in practice, as well as how to connect it to business growth. No bueno.

A one-off occurrence won't give you the sustained benefits of delivering delightful customer experiences. Efforts that are disconnected from your broader company strategy will just feel disjointed.

Instead, cultivate a culture within your company that's constantly thinking of how to design experiences that draw your customers closer to you. Then, you can make remarkable experiences a part of the product you offer, rather than an addition that's executed at the last minute.

Nike, the Ritz-Carlton, and Disney have succeeded in baking world-class customer experiences into their DNA. As a result, they repeatedly earn loyal customers who rave and swear by their products.

A closer look at their company missions helps explain why they are so skilled at this. They made conscious decisions to put those experiences at the core of what they do. Use their examples as inspiration to develop your own vision for how to use experiences to win more customers:

1. Nike 

The athletic brand is about more than just selling shoes. Their mission statement declares the bigger reason why the company exists: "to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world."

The asterisked footnote ensures everyone is on the same page as to what qualifies someone as an athlete: "If you have a body, you are an athlete."

The focus on "inspiration and innovation" is the fuel that informs what experiences to create to deliver on their goal. One example of this is the Nike+ Run Club, which I've recently started using.

Athletes can download the app to track their running workouts and progress. They can run and train live with local Nike+ Run Club communities around the world, and access training plans and music playlists to make runs go more smoothly. For my part, tracking my progress and seeing improvements over time motivates me to keep going pushing myself.

The experience connects directly to business results because athletes need shoes to run in. And the more miles they log, the more shoes they will need. By creating experiences that inspire and support their customers to run more and make it more enjoyable, the brand helps everyone win.

2. The Ritz-Carlton 

The iconic hotel brand defines their credo this way:

"The Ritz-Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

"We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambiance.

"The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests."

The credo creates a clear vision for how they want their guests to feel. Because the business is service-based, the company has implemented policies that empower their front-line employees to be trained and equipped to carry out this vision at every opportunity.

I'm always impressed when I read stories about the lengths the staff at this hotel have gone through to wow their guests. For example: One of those policies is providing each of their team members with $2,000 of discretionary spend to use per guest per day to delight them or make a situation right as they see fit.

3. Disney

Disney's mission makes it clear that experiences are a major component of how they will win more customers:

"The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world."

When you look at Disney's portfolio of always packed theme parks, Academy-award winning and blockbuster movies, and sold-out cruises, it is easy to see that creativity and innovation fuel the wonder that draws audiences from around the world.

The starting point for you to consistently deliver experiences that win customers is to declare your vision. Define the impact you want to have on your customers, document it in your mission, and then reward your team for producing and implementing ideas that live into it.

Soon enough, you'll have created a culture like these companies that makes delivering remarkable customer experiences a core part of the work you do. You'll start attracting more customers in the process, too.

Published on: May 18, 2018