Customer experience best practice: Which brands will win their customers’ hearts this Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day is the day of relationships, and in customer experience management, no relationship is more important than that of the customer and the brand. Whilst many companies strive to affirm just how much they value the individual – with employees often sporting sloganed uniforms reassuring customers that they’re ‘here for you’ or ‘here to help’ – not every brand achieves these aspirations. Customer experience best practice will only occur when companies put their promises into action, and forge relationships that are human, sincere, and personalised.

One retailer that is likely to win its customers’ hearts this Valentine’s Day is the online fashion boutique ASOS. Primarily catering for young adults both in the UK and abroad, the brand currently sits at number 23 in the Customer Experience Excellence rankings, with a strong CEE score of 7.75. In addition, ASOS’ results across The Six PillarsTM are equally impressive, with some its highest being in Personalisation and Integrity, both of which are crucial for forging close customer relationships.

The role of social media

One of the key elements of the brand’s customer experience best practice is its use of social media. Its #AsSeenOnMe initiative allows shoppers to post photos of themselves – modelling ASOS’ clothing – on Instagram, which in turn the retailer adds to its website. “Get inspired, shop fresh looks you’ll <3 and share your own pics,” ASOS says. This open invitation to the shopper creates a sense of ‘community’ amongst fellow customers, and also a level of intimacy between the individual and the brand; bathroom mirror selfies are typically reserved for friends and family members, as opposed to large online retailers and their websites.

Furthermore, ASOS is good at showing Empathy to its customers. On the Valentine’s Day section of its website, the retailer demonstrates that it can see things from the shopper’s point of view. To its female shoppers, the brand writes: “We know that guys can be hard to buy for at the best of times, which is why we’ve pulled together all our Valentine’s favourites, from grooming gear to novelty gifts. Brownie-point-winning presents are right this way.” In this instance, ASOS adopts the voice of a close friend, showing that it understands the person’s difficulty and that it has a willingness to help them. The brand also takes a more personalised approach to retail; the ‘selling point’ revolves around the emotional impact of the products, rather than their discounted price tags. All of these attributes are conducive to the creation of a more ‘loving’ relationship between the retailer and the shopper.

Being a trusted brand

Another company that is likely to win hearts this Valentine’s Day is the cosmetics brand Lush, which topped the UK CEE rankings in 2015. Known for its staunch moral and ethical values, the retailer sells responsibly-sourced soaps and beauty products, and is renowned for its vibrant window displays and fragrant aromas.

What really makes Lush stand out, though, is its attitude to the customer. Like ASOS, Lush likes to treat people as individuals, taking its time with shoppers to determine which product is best suited to their needs. As such, it is very rare for a customer to simply walk into a Lush outlet and pick a product off the shelf. Invariably, they will be greeted by an employee as they cross the shop floor, who will engage with them further if they sense the customer is in need of guidance with their selection. Bonds are often made during these moments of engagement, and there is a high likelihood that the shopper will come away with an intent to return to the retailer further down the line. After all, customers tend to ‘fall in love’ with brands that they trust the most, and with a company like Lush, which is dedicated to the wellbeing of the individual – and indeed, the world – the potential for trust is considerably strong.

Its scores across The Six Pillars are a reflection of these virtues, with the brand achieving a chart-topping 8.59 for Personalisation, followed by equally impressive 8.46 for Integrity. Customer experience best practice will often be found in these pillars, and for any company looking to improve their performance in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, they could find no better place to start.

As the poet Robert Frost once said: “We love the things we love for what they are.”

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.