What do a software company, a tire seller, a clothing store, a business directory, a transportation service and an online shopping mall have in common? This sounds like the set-up for a joke, but it is not. If there is any laughing, it is happening in the boardroom as these six companies count their revenue dollars in multi-million dollar increments. The companies are Plex, Tire Rack, Stitch Fix, YELP, Uber and Amazon. What they have in common is an amazing customer experience.

Each of our executives selected one company they use that offers a best-in-class customer experience. These companies are also defined as leaders by their customers, and when it comes to creating the best experience, that is the only voice that counts. Customers vote with their online ratings and dollars.

  • Plex Media Server received a 4-star rating from CNet editors and users.
  • Tire Rack is America’s largest independent tire tester and consumer-direct source for tires, wheels and performance accessories.
  • Stitch Fix combined 50 data scientists with more than 2000 stylists to create an online personal shopping experience. Within four years, Stitch Fix is generating more than an estimated $200 million annually.
  • Uber rivals Facebook’s success. Only 5 1/2 years old and its value is at $51 Billion.
  • YELP hit its 100 millionth review in January and its revenue is over $500 million.
  • Amazon…well who does not use Amazon? The company has reinvented the way the world shops.

The ingredients of an outstanding customer experience

Many people confuse customer experience with customer service and the user experience. Customer service and user experience are critical elements of the customer experience. The customer experience is the total sum of a customer’s interactions with a company over the life of the customer’s relationship. When it comes to creating a best-in-class customer experience, these five factors are the most important.

   1.       Deliver quality content
Jon Aurit, ChannelNet

Jon Aurit

Yelp’s business directory and influence continues to grow. Jon Aurit, ChannelNet vice president of sales, feels the reason is the content is high quality and the right information.

“Yelp has endless information based on your location. I am frequently on the road, so the insights really help improve my travels. In particular, I like how easy it is to read reviews and see pricing information,” said Aurit.

Jason Luke, ChannelNet

Jason Luke

Jason Luke, ChannelNet director of cyber security, selected Tire Rack. Luke agrees with a statement from Mike Joines, Tire Rack co-founder. Joines says the company philosophy is to sell the best product at the right price in the shortest amount of time. He thinks educating consumers on the best tire for their car helps them win and retain customers.

Luke breaks it down this way: “Their prices are almost always the same or cheaper than local stores, but more importantly, their shopping resources and user reviews allow customers to get the information they need to make the right tire choice.”

    2.      Address a common consumer pain point

Luke mainly singled out Tire Rack because of how the company took the stress out of his tire purchase. “Like buying a car, buying car tires can be a frustrating exercise in getting wildly different quotes from different tire shops that often do not even sell the same tires. This makes comparisons difficult,” Luke said. “Then there are the sales tactics and sales people who may or may not be providing you information in your best interest. TireRack.com eliminates that stress by providing the best online tire shopping platform around.”

Milad Elmir, ChannelNet CXO

Milad Elmir

ChannelNet CXO Milad Elmir uses Uber as his favorite example of a great customer experience. “Uber solves all sorts of key pain points that customers traditionally experience with taxis, such as reliability of arrival, knowing where your cab is and the financial transaction aspects,” Elmir explained. “I love not having to exchange money! Uber has single-handedly disrupted the moth-eaten business model of the taxi cab industry.”

Molly Smith, vice president of operations, picked Stitch Fix because it solved her time-starved dilemma, “I have no time to shop for myself and when I do I feel like I am going to all the same places as my friends. Stitch Fix is geared for busy women on the go.”

3.      Understand the customer
Molly Smith, ChannelNet

Molly Smith

The most important  customer experience factor is understanding the customer. Smith stresses how important it is that Stitch Fix understands her needs. She detailed in-depth how they learn about her as an individual, “The pieces are selected based on my tastes and budget. I completed a style questionnaire outlining my favorite colors, what kind of jewelry I wear, do I prefer pants or dresses, chic or sporty, do I work, etc. This allows the personal shopper to know my sense of style. Clothing and accessories are hand-selected by my personal stylist and delivered to my door. On my own time, I can try on the clothes and decide to keep an item or return it. I share online why I liked or did not like an item so they can include my feedback in the selection of the next outfit.”

4.      Provide a great user experience
Chris Sims, ChannelNet

Chris Sims

Plex, a favorite of Chris Sims, our chief technology officer, is considered one of the top five media sharing services because of its fast and intuitive user interface and easy setup. Sims uses a Plex server to simplify watching digital content across multiple devices, in multiple sittings. He streams movies, TV shows, music and pictures.

“Plex works with our TVs, Chromecast, Bluray player, Amazon Firestick, tablets, mobile phones and desktop computer. It keeps track of where we stop a video and lets you continue from where you left off later, even on a different device. You can stream your media while outside of your house as well,” Sims explains.

Elmir picked Uber because of the app’s usability, which he feels is key to their rapid expansion. “It is customer friendly, with fast responsiveness and a virtually glitch-free satisfying user experience. It does exactly what it tells you it will do. The app is easy for passengers and drivers.”

5.      Develop the right culture

Amazon is known for its tough culture, which some say is punishing. The culture is very competitive and rewards sending negative feedback about peers. Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos responded to critics by saying, “We never claim that our approach is the right one — just that it’s ours — and over the last two decades, we’ve collected a large group of like-minded people. Folks who find our approach energizing and meaningful.”

This is not the same culture behind Stitch Fix’s success. Stitch Fix was recognized by the 2015 Timmy Awards for having one of the best tech work cultures in the San Francisco area — even though it does not provide free lunch to employees. On Glassdoor, they have a high employee rating for their focus on cross-team collaboration and training.

Inc. contributor and corporate culture and management advisor, Brian Fielkow, agrees with Bezos. He says, “Culture simply is the convergence of the right people and the right processes working in harmony.” The important factors that affect your customer experience are creating the right processes and hiring the right talent.

Customer experience has become the most important imperative for companies. With good reason. The rewards are great — revenue increases and customer satisfaction soars.