Premium Customer Experience: It’s Not What You Think

Discover how to exceed expectations and elevate your brand with a premium customer experience. Stay ahead of competitors in the customer service arena.


March 4, 2024

premium customer experience

Many businesses have been tempted to compromise on customer experience to boost profits. While some can do this to cut costs, brands that want to maintain a high-end brand image in today's competitive market should avoid the "cheap premium" strategy.

Customers don't pay higher prices for elegant packaging or high prices. They pay more for a unique experience.

In this post, we'll explore the premium customer experience and how brands can achieve it in a world that blends digital and physical interactions.

Table of Contents

    Rethinking "premium" in the digital age

    High price points, product superiority, and exclusivity once defined the classic perception of "premium." However, this mindset has shifted due to the internet's democratizing power and the rising expectations of tech-savvy customers. As a concept, premium now stands on a more inclusive, innovative, and experiential platform. Businesses must convert this concept into a tangible customer experience. The foundation of this strategy lies in the digital revolution that fundamentally reshaped how value is perceived and delivered.

    The digital transformation of value

    The digital revolution has redrawn the value map, coloring the premium concept with personalization, interactions, and unprecedented customer service. For modern consumers, premium goes beyond a product's luxurious exterior and extends to the entire user experience. Sleek website navigation, minimalistic app design, or prompt and personalized interactions by customer support are examples of high-value experience components.

    However, creating a better customer experience has become more difficult because the digital world is saturated with content and competition. In this environment, authenticity is what sets an experience apart.

    The role of authenticity in a great customer experience

    The new value of premium hinges on a brand's ability to integrate its story, ethos, and values into the customer experience. Customers crave connection, not more promotions and messages. Instead, they want to be part of something meaningful and authentic. Companies that fail to develop excellent customer experiences risk losing their competitive edge.

    The Customer Experience Process (Click to expand)

    The hidden costs of "cheap premium"

    Businesses tempted to cut corners on customer experience while trying to maintain a premium image risk making a disastrous mistake. This tactic has hidden costs that undermine profitability.

    Customer churn: The silent revenue killer

    Each customer lost due to a subpar experience represents a missed opportunity for recurring revenue and future growth. The constant need to replace unhappy customers increases acquisition costs, which makes the "cheap premium" approach unsustainable. A quality customer experience builds loyalty and maximizes customer satisfaction and lifetime value.

    Reputational damage: The price of a bad name

    Thanks to online reviews and social media, negative customer experiences travel fast. A reputation for poor service, even for a premium brand, will send potential customers running to competitors. Brand reputation is founded on trust, a far more valuable asset than short-term cost-cutting. A superior customer experience creates positive word-of-mouth and a reputation that attracts new business.

    Devalued employees, devalued experience: The people factor

    Customer-facing employees are your brand's ambassadors. When cost-cutting measures undermine their ability to provide excellent service, morale suffers. This directly translates to a diminished customer experience, with demotivated staff leading to increased friction, longer hold times, and impersonal interactions--the opposite of high-end experiences.

    Investing in employee experience might seem optional, but the numbers tell a different story. According to Gallup, organizations with an engaged workforce are 23 percent more profitable than those with low levels of engagement. Businesses that genuinely invest in their employees create an environment where excellent service flourishes, strengthening the customer experience and the bottom line.

    Take Trader Joe's as an example. Recognized for its friendly and supportive staff, the company offers competitive pay and benefits in the retail industry. This commitment enhances its brand reputation and creates an environment that promotes customer loyalty.

    Values Driven Organizations and the customer experience
    Values-Driven Organizations

    Crafting the premium customer experience

    Organizations must address certain critical elements to create a premium customer experience. To highlight this transformation, we'll dissect the core pillars of what constitutes a modern, high-end experience and why these pillars are non-negotiable.

    Personalization lies at the heart of a premium experience. Here's where technology plays a crucial role.

    Personalization at scale

    An authentic experience feels customized. Technology allows a level of personalization that caters to individuals within a mass customer base. Brands that succeed here do not merely include a customer's name in an email but anticipate their preferences and behaviors to create a unique interaction.

    The technology behind personalization

    Businesses can now predict customer needs, curate product recommendations, and customize content with remarkable accuracy by leveraging data, machine learning, and AI.

    Zappos, for instance, garnered a reputation for its legendary customer service that included representatives willing to chat about local weather if that's what the customer preferred.

    Effortless omnichannel engagement

    Customer interaction flows seamlessly with minimal effort on their part. At its best, automation removes the hassle, streamlining the path from question to answer, from intent to action.

    Case in point: Amazon Go

    The Amazon Go grocery stores eliminate checkout lines and cash transactions, relying on sensor-based systems to charge customers for their purchases directly from their Amazon accounts. It's a physical manifestation of the effortless engagement philosophy.

    Empathy and anticipation

    A premium experience can also be a human one. Empathy, or the ability to prioritize the customer's emotions and feelings, leads to unique experiences that resonate personally. Anticipation, on the other hand, means knowing what the customer needs before they do.

    An example of empathy

    When Apple widely recalled the iPhone 4 due to faulty power buttons, it didn't just replace the phone. It offered a unique concierge repair service for the affected models, scheduling appointments around customer availability, not Apple's service windows.

    Customer Empathy Map
    Customer Empathy Map

    Building a sustainable premium experience strategy

    A customer experience is an ongoing commitment, not a one-off event. To this end, businesses must build an efficient and sustainable strategy that evolves with customer expectations and technological capabilities.

    So, how do we translate this commitment to sustainability into actionable steps?

    Align experience with values

    A brand's values are connected to delivering a high-quality experience. Patagonia exemplifies this by selling high-quality, durable products and reinforcing these products with a lifetime guarantee. This aligns with their core value of sustainability and establishes Patagonia as a name customers can trust.

    Data-driven insights

    Harnessing the power of data analytics can provide a competitive edge in understanding and satisfying customer needs. In the premium sector, small gestures can have a significant impact. A personal email or recommendation based on detailed customer history goes a long way in cementing brand loyalty.

    The future is a phygital customer journey

    The next frontier for premium experiences is phygital: a seamless integration of physical and digital interactions that transcends the limitations of each mode alone. Burberry, for example, implemented RFID technology to create a personalized shopping experience in its flagship London store, blurring the lines between online and in-store shopping.

    Measuring the Customer Experience (Click to expand)

    The path to brand champion status

    A customer experience isn't limited to delighting customers. The goal is to create brand champions who advocate for the brand because they believe in it. In an era when word-of-mouth can travel at the speed of light, these champions can be a brand's best marketing. Here's how to cultivate these passionate advocates:

    Encourage customer feedback

    Champions want to be heard. When they speak, others listen. Brands should encourage feedback through surveys, dedicated social media channels, or loyalty programs that reward customer reviews. You're investing in the customer's voice by making it easy to share opinions.

    Transforming customers into co-creators

    The customer experience should invite customers to have a say in the design of products or services. This might involve customer panels for new ideas, polls, and questionnaires to shape features or beta testing programs for early feedback. This level of involvement deepens customers' connection to the brand, promoting loyalty as dynamic as it is enduring.

    Leverage community and social proof

    Creating a sense of community around a brand leverages the power of social proof, reinforcing premium status through the collective support of a robust customer base. Online forums, exclusive brand communities, and incentivizing positive online reviews can all contribute to this sense of belonging.

    Setting brand audit goals (Click to expand)

    Your brand audit checklist

    A thorough assessment is vital in understanding where your customer experience stands and where it aims to be. A brand audit should be a regular exercise for any serious business investing in a customer experience. Here are some questions to answer as you audit your brand:

    Engagement across channels

    Is your customer experience seamless across all channels, digital and physical? Are you providing the same level of service on social media as you are in-store?

    The human touch

    Is there room for empathy and personalization in your customer support processes? Do your representatives view a customer complaint as a welcomed opportunity to serve them further?

    Revisiting tech for efficiency

    Are you using technology to support your customer experience or inadvertently creating barriers through excessive automation?

    Measuring and adapting

    Are you measuring the success of your premium experiences? What data are you collecting, and how are they helping your company improve?

    The balance of digital and human

    How is your brand positioning itself for the future? Are you adequately blending the convenience of digital interactions with the emotional resonance of human ones to create a cohesive, memorable customer experience?

    Unlock the power of a premium customer experience

    Contact The Brand Auditors today to schedule your consultation. Let's work together to set a new standard for excellence in your industry.

    Brand Strategist | Managing Director

    Chris has over 15 years of experience in brand development and marketing. He has designed strategies across various industries, such as technology, B2B services, and healthcare. His areas of expertise include brand positioning, competitive analysis, content marketing, and web development.

    Are you ready to find out how a brand audit can transform your business?

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    • Increase ROI on lead generation and sales conversions.
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