by Blake Morgan
Every company faces ups and downs. In many cases, those downs can be turned around with an updated customer experience. A poor customer service can hurt growth and push customers away. But when done well, customer experience can drive sales, engage customers and encourage loyalty.
These 10 companies each experienced dramatic turnarounds by focusing on customers and investing in their customer experiences.
Less than a decade ago, many people were counting Best Buy out, saying it would soon be forced out of business by Amazon. But the company turned things around by investing in customer experience and transforming from a traditional retail store to a customer-focused technology partner. Instead of just selling products, Best Buy focuses on building relationships and providing advice and service to customers. The store uses digital solutions like a revamped website and even offers in-home advisers for personalized technology tutorials. As a result, Best Buy isn’t only in business—it’s thriving.
In 2015, Comcast was plagued with bad customer service that was all over the news. Customers were frustrated with the products and service, and poor interactions with the company went viral. Comcast completely overhauled its culture to create a customer-first environment. It listened to customer feedback to improve its products and created a consistent experience no matter how customers contact the brand. It addressed common customer concerns by shortening appointment windows and even offering billing credits for late technician arrivals.
During the financial crisis in 2008, Starbucks’ revenue dropped nearly 30% in two years and it was forced to close more than 1,000 stores. To get things back on track, CEO Howard Shultz led a re-commitment to technology and community involvement. Starbucks launched “My Starbucks Idea” where customers could contribute suggestions. More than 90,000 ideas were submitted, and more than 100 of them became a reality. By focusing on customers, Starbucks changed its image from a corporate coffee chain to a community of coffee-loving people. With a renewed focus and improved economy, Starbucks soon began to see strong growth.
Being self-aware is often the first step in improving customer experience. A decade ago, Domino’s was the laughing stock of the pizza world and took last place in consumer taste preference surveys. Instead of ignoring the issue, Domino’s listened to customers and updated its pizza recipe. The company showed transparency by encouraging customers to post feedback of the new recipe on social media. Instead of getting beaten down by negative opinions, Domino’s listened to customers and made innovative changes that excited both employees and customers. Domino’s stock price has risen 5000% since 2008 and has made huge improvements in consumer taste tests.
Faced with growing competition, Australian airline Qantas saw its first billion-dollar loss in 2013. To turn things around, the company streamlined its operations and invested in new technology and customer experience. Qantas started offering free Wi-Fi on flights—a rarity in the airline industry—and unveiled a faster, streamlined baggage check-in process. From booking the flight to checking a bag, every aspect of a customer’s journey with Qantas has improved. Its loyal customers named Qantas the most trusted large company in Australia and the best business airline for domestic travel.
After nearly two years of declining sales, McDonald’s turned things around not by changing its marketing but by focusing on customer experience. The fast food chain made an effort to listen to customers and provide the streamlined experience they wanted. That meant simplifying the menu, investing in higher-quality ingredients and improving order accuracy. Delivering better food faster gave the restaurant a much-needed boost and put it on track to continue a growth trajectory.
Before late 2017, Macy’s had faced 11 quarters of decreasing sales. To get to the root of the problem, the company took a deep dive into the customer journey to identify pain points and opportunities. Macy’s broke down every step of the customer journey and worked to improve it step by step, such as creating a stronger omnichannel and mobile experience, developing self-checkout stations and increasing the variety of its clothing choices. As a result, Macy’s sales have started to improve and it is seen as a leader in the crossover of brick-and-mortar and online experience.
Microsoft’s growth was stagnant in the early 2000s until its new CEO led the change from a bureaucratic corporation to an innovative collaborator focused on customers and partnerships. Microsoft tore down walls and started partnering with B2B companies to share best practices and build new products. It invested in products B2B customers actually wanted, such as a stronger cloud networking system. By shifting its focus, Microsoft has climbed steadily over the last few years and is now seen as a trusted and innovative company.
Since starting a dramatic transformation, Target has seen its sales numbers grow at a rapid pace. The company has been on a mission to create a customer-focused environment with convenient digital solutions that blur the line between brick-and-mortar and online shopping. Target is in the midst of remodeling all of its stores in a more customer-friendly layout and offers in-store pickup and subscription options. Since investing fully in customer experience, Target’s reputation and sales has been on the rise, and it will likely only continue to grow.
In its competitive industry, Adidas’s choice to focus on digital customer journeys has led to serious payoffs. The company has been fine-tuning its digital experience for years after re-committing itself to focusing on customer experience. It realized customers were shopping more online and poured resources into creating a simple, data-driven experience for customers that can be easily personalized. Adidas also listens to customer feedback, such as desire for more sustainable goods. Adidas created shoes from ocean waste and sold more than 1 million pairs in a year. Its stock has risen steadily in recent years, and it is seen as an innovative digital company.
Investing in customer experience can change a company’s growth trajectory and establish it as a leader in its field. These 10 companies show the dramatic turnaround that can happen when customers become the focus.
*This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of two books including The Customer Of The Future:
10 Guiding Principles for Winning Tomorrow’s Business and More is More:
How the Best Companies Go Farther and Work Harder to Create Knock-Your-Socks-Off Customer Experiences. Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.