Simplr Digital CX Excellence

The 3 Hallmarks of Digital CX Excellence… With Examples from Real Brands


When you boil it down, brands that deliver excellent customer experiences have three key factors in common. Discover what sets CX top performers apart.

Someone recently asked me in conversation, “How is customer service changing?” Well, that was a doozy. “How much time do you have?” was my tongue-in-cheek answer. In the COVID era of the digital age, customer service is changing in every way and also not at all.

On one hand, exceptional customer service will always be rooted in providing customers with what they need in a way that makes them want to stick around. On the other hand, delivering an exceptional customer experience today requires brands to be everywhere at once, with instantaneous information and personable interactions across a long list of digital channels.

But even as digital customer service is moving faster than ever and smart CX strategies are a must for brands of all kinds, there are some common threads that can be thought of as hallmarks of digital CX excellence.

In Simplr’s most recent mystery shop of nearly 800 online brands, we found that there are three key areas that set top performers apart from the rest of the pack when it comes to customer service and CX.

Read on to learn about the three hallmarks of CX excellence and see examples from real brands that earned top scores in our study.

1. CX Excellence Requires… Responsiveness

In general, customers expect an immediate response when they reach out to a brand with a question or a problem. In our research, we found that the faster a brand’s responsiveness, the better its overall customer experience score.

For instance, when it comes to live chat, 94% of our mystery shoppers who received chat responses in under 60 seconds said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their overall experience. With email, our shoppers were slightly more forgiving – the average email response time of companies that earned a 4.5 score or higher (out of 5) was 25 hours. But that’s the average. Several brands were able to wow shoppers and set themselves apart with faster email response times.

Who is rocking responsiveness?

ANINE BING, a Los Angeles-based fashion retailer, scored a 5/5 on both live chat and email responsiveness in our mystery shop. When a shopper engaged the live chat, a chatbot instantly acknowledged the customer and then a human representative joined within seconds to engage with the customer on a person-to-person level. With email, our mystery shopper received a thoughtful, informative response within 15 minutes – much faster than the average timeframe of even our top scorers.

2. CX Excellence Requires… Reliability

Reliability – the ability to dependably resolve customers’ challenges and answer customers’ questions is the next hallmark of CX excellence. Similarly to responsiveness, our latest mystery shop findings show a clear connection between high reliability and high overall customer satisfaction.

In our study, we found that 73% of the brands that earned a 4.5 score or higher on overall experience were able to solve shoppers’ email and chat tickets on the first attempt. In general, when brands can empower frontline agents to answer a broader range of questions, we find this will lead to fewer escalations, which can add friction and frustration to the customer experience.

Who is rocking reliability?

One of our top-scorers for reliability was bone broth maker Kettle & Fire, who saw surging demand at the onset of the pandemic. Despite increased volumes, Kettle & Fire was able to reliably meet customers’ needs as they sought information about the brand’s healthy, collagen-rich broths and soups.

3. CX Excellence Requires… Relatability

While the first hallmark of CX excellence is about responding quickly and the second is about providing answers with reliability, the third hallmark centers on the need to bring humanity and empathy to each customer interaction. For our mystery shop research, we created a Relatability Score, based on responses to 10 questions around the personalization, kindness, and above-and-beyond-ness of customer service responses.

What we found in our research was that only 41% of the brands that were mystery shopped earned a ‘high’ Relatability Score, and when we isolated the results just around chat, the number dropped down to 36%. Customers notice when agents bring their personality realness, so this is an area to watch.

Who is rocking relatability?

Parachute, an ecommerce and retail brand that makes premium sheets, towels, and “all things soft and wonderful,” earned top marks on our Relatability Score. In an example customer service email from Parachute to a mystery shopper, we saw personality – and useful information – galore, which set the brand apart with shoppers.

All in all, the brands that earned top marks from our mystery shoppers responded to customer requests as quickly as possible, reliably resolved customer issues and questions, and related with customers in a human, empathetic way throughout each interaction.

Want to learn more about these hallmarks of CX excellence and other findings from our latest research? Download our State of Online Customer Service in 2020 report for the full story.