A customer purchases a tote bag she’d wanted for months only to have something get spilled on it. She tries to clean it but instead ends up ruining it. She expresses her disappointment and frustration on Twitter. A short time later she gets a Tweet back from the company “Check your email” and in her inbox she finds a credit to buy a new bag.

In an instant the company (@everlanein case you’re wondering) turned that disappointment and frustration into an amazing customer experience. Something she’s going to talk about on social media, tell all of her friends about, and shout from the rooftops anytime she hears someone considering different tote bag options.

Going the Extra Mile

Everlane could have just as easily ignored the comment or sent a coupon for 10% off the next purchase. And if they did, we wouldn’t be talking about them. With that being said, it’s not always about giving something away. In this case, it was about making the customer whole and for that meant offering her a credit for a new bag. In others, it can be something as simple as a nice handwritten thank you note, an employee going above and beyond by spending extra time to track down a specific product, or reaching out after they make a purchase to see if they have any questions.

One thing that is abundantly obvious when you look at all of the usual suspects known for delivering exceptional customer experiences—Nordstrom, Zappos, Disney, Amazon, etc.—is that it doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a clear customer-experience vision, the right organizational culture, listening to and hearing your customers, and consistent execution across each and every customer touch point.

A Better Customer Experience is Your Competitive Advantage

We spend a lot of time talking with clients about how to create exceptional customer experiences and how they can develop a strategy for turning those customer experiences into a competitive advantage. It all starts with understanding the customer journey and seeing things through their eyes. In some cases, that means inviting a small group of customers to participate in focus groups or asking them to complete specific tasks such as finding specific information on your website so we can identify pain points and possible bottlenecks. We also pour over every bit of customer feedback we can possibly get our hands on.

Here we also go through the entire sales process ourselves so we can fully understand the customer experience with a fresh set of eyes. This includes a range of factors such as how easily calls are routed using automated call trees, how the company is using social media to answer questions and respond to customer comments, and the friendliness and professionalism of their staff. Once we’re able to map out the current customer journey, we then work with senior leadership and front-end staff to identify specific opportunities where we can make significant improvements.

Your Culture Is Linked to Your Customers

We mentioned organizational culture earlier and it bears repeating. From top down and bottom up, to be successful you need buy in from all levels of your organization. That means you need to hire right and empower your team to make smart decisions and put customer service first. In other words, if the people on your front lines don’t get it or aren’t able to execute, you can have the greatest customer experience strategy in place and it still won’t make a difference.

As you think about your customer experience what can you do to turn each interaction and their entire end-to-end journey into something more? Once you have a clear vision in place and you have buy-in from your team, you’ll be on your way to realizing a competitive advantage—something the team at Everlane already has figured out.