Customer service can make or break a business. But with customers now expecting things that were once perks as standard, it's getting hard to keep up, and even harder to stand out.

In order to stay ahead, you'll have to get creative. Today we're looking at 8 clever examples of 'Customer Happiness Initiatives' that go above and beyond the expected. These aren't your run-of-the-mill, short waiting times or fast deliveries, these are unique strategies that have helped businesses grow into the brands we know and love today.

Ready to get inspired? Let's get started.

1. Brooks' True Blue Guarantee

At the top of Brooks eCommerce store sits, 'Free Shipping. Free Returns. Unlimited sweating for 90 days'. It's bold, it's brave - it's almot like a slogan.

Whilst the first two in this list may be fairly common, albeit nice to have, it's the last which really catches the eye. This is Brooks' True Blue Guarantee - an innitiative that allows customers to trial their new running shoes for up to 90 days with 'unlimited sweating'. If they're not completely happy, they can return their shoes free of charge.

For runners, this is big news. Everyone's gait is slightly different and finding a shoe that meets your needs is extremely important in preventing injury. Brooks acknowledge this, and their True Blue Guarantee doesn't just show they want to make customer's happy, it shows they understand their runners - they are runners.

Buying trainers online without a gait analysis is risky business. Offering a trial may mean the odd pair gets returned, but in the long run, it means huge respect in the running community, more repeat business, happier customers and, most importantly, an easy-win over online competitors not offering this service.

Next time a runner passes you buy, take a look at their feet - you'll be amazed at how many rock Brooks trainers. And now, you know why.

2. LUSH's little black pots recycling scheme

LUSH are renowned for their comittment to fighting animal cruelty, producing natural products and being as eco-friendly as possible. Most of their products are packaging-free, and those that aren't can be recycled.

But LUSH have done something really clever off the back of this. They encourage customers to bring back 5 little black pots (which contain things such as facemasks and hair masks), and in return, give them a facemask for free, continuing the cycle. Use, recyce, reuse.

This has so many benefits. So many.

  • Customers get something free - perks!
  • Customers are encouraged to buy more - 5 becomes a benchmark to hit.
  • Customers can be introduced to new facemasks, improving customer loyalty.
  • Customers get a feel good factor as they become part of something bigger.
  • It hightlights LUSH's comitment to the environment.
  • LUSH actually get to do their bit and adhere to their ethics.

The result is a bunch of happy customers that feel like they've got something for free whilst doing good, all thanks to LUSH, making them fonder of the brand than ever.

3. ASOS' Premier Delivery

For ASOS shoppers, getting their garms from anywhere else is almost unfathomable. Why? ASOS make it so easy to receive and return orders that most other services seem obsolete.

ASOS' Premier Delivery is almost too good to be true. For just £9.95 a year, customers are entitled to unlimited Next-Day Delivery, Precise Delivery and Standard Delivery with no minimum order value. Plus, they can take advtange of ASOS' free Returns as normal.

Let's put this into perspective: brands normally charge around £6 for this service. If you're an avid shopper, this is a big saving.

For those on the outside looking in, this may seem a bit too far. If customers are ordering regularly, it's easy to see how this could cost ASOS big time. Add a few returns into the mix, and the problem looks worse.

But here's the thing: it's making ASOS stand out in a really competitive time. 62% of ASOS' audience are 18-34, generations that have grown up with developping technology as standard. They want things quick, easy and convenient, and as a result, have made the online fashion market a viscious place to be. Not just for design and quality, but for customer service and overall experience. In fact it could even be argued that the latter has become increasingly important.

ASOS is bringing their audience fast fashion, faster than ever. And not only that, but it's reducing the risks of shopping with them. We recently discussed#ASOSFails on our blog, and how their Free Returns and Premier Delivery help to turn these around.

Running as a solely online marketplace makes ASOS riskier than say, TOPSHOP. Without the chance to try things on or buy things immediately, ASOS need to get as close as possible to the convenienve of trying and returning items in store. With Premier Delivery, they've just about done it.

Whilst they're no longer the only company to offer this service, they were the first. They started what was close to an online-shopping phenomenom, which other brands, such as Misguided and Boohoo, had to adopt in order to keep up.

ASOS really do seem to be the ruler of online fast fashion. Whatever will they do next?

4. ZARA Self Checkout

We've been using self checkouts in supermarkets now for what feels like a lifetime, but they're yet to be widely adopted by other retailers.

ZARA first trialed self-checkouts) in its London stores last year, before rolling them out across the country. The experience is as chic as the clothes themselves, with an extremely responsive interface and a process that requires no bardcode scanning.

For a store that's previously been known for having long queues, this was a welcome initiative for customers. But it not just a convenience thing.

By being the first to adopt self-checkouts, ZARA are making a statement. They're high-tech, ahead of the crowd, leading the pack. And the seamlessness of the system they've developed only goes to further this impression. ZARA, with it's stripped-back, clean design and stylish store assistants, isn't just a shop, it's an experience.

5. IKEA 365 day returns

Let's face it. We all love IKEA. With their stores enabling you to waltz from room to room as if they were your own (not to mention the post-checkout meatballs) they already have certain USPs that we all know and love.

But did you know IKEA also have a 365-day Return Policy? Yep, really. and not only that, but, providing the item is resaleable, it doesn't matter whether it's assembled or not - you really can take that red Kallax back and swap it for a white one if you feel a little less bold once seeing it up.

IKEA are known for their buildable furniture, which, as many of us have experienced, comes with risks. Sometimes we can't build it. Other times, we never get round to building it. And occassionally, we really just don't want to build it. In all these cases, IKEA gets it. IKEA call this their 'no-nonsense Returns Policy', and, just like the rest of their strategy, it's a crowd pleaser.

6. Emma Mattress 100-Night Trial

We spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, so getting it right is pretty crucial. Not just to ensure we acutally enjoy those hours of blissful slumber, but the hours that we spend awake - a bad mattress can cause body aches, joint soreness and tiredness.

Emma Mattress get the importance of a good night's sleep - that's why they offer a 100-night trial on all of their mattresses. At £649 for a double, they're by no means the most expensive out there, however they're definitely not the cheapest either. The price of a mattress, just like the sleep it can (or can't) provide, is a big investment for consumers. By offering a trial, Emma Mattress remove the risk factor so customers can rest-assured they won't be left with a bad back and a big bill with it.

It also means the customers that do keep their mattress will be truly happy customers. What are Emma Mattress doing? They're building a team of brand embassadors who sing their praises. You just have to look at their reviews for proof of this - with 258 collected and an average score of 4.81 stars.

Trials such as this show a real confidence in the products being sold and encourage customers to take a punt on something that could be a big investment for them.

Here's to sleeping happy.

7. JL GUARANTEES

John Lewis aren't the cheapest of stores - we all know this. However that's not really what they pride themselves on. Instead of affordability, they offer value, not only across their products, but the service they provide.

A big part of their trustworthy and honest reputation comes from their Guarantee Policies. John Lewis go above and beyond when it comes to Guarantees, often offering better agreements than if you were to buy from the brand directly.

Why? Well, just like Emma Mattress, John Lewis realise that TVs, beds and even small electrical items like iPods are big investments. Not only because of their price, but because of their importance - these purchases that consumers usually use regularly, if not daily, and rely on. They're very considered purchases and rarely bought on a whim. Trust is essential to get them to choose yours.

Guarantees offer security, assuring customers that if anything were ever to go wrong, they wouldn't be alone. For many customers, this is often worth an extra £10, and one of the many reasons consumers choose to shop at John Lewis again and again.

8. VOXI

We're finishing with something a little different. In a day and age when it often feels like everything has been done, enter VOXI - the mobile network aimed at millenials.

EE, 02, Three, the prices may differ, but their offerings are - when it comes down to it - pretty similar. VOXI are doing things differently by offering more of what their young target audience want most: unlimited data for social media.

Yep, you heard that right. This means unlimited Instagram, Twitter, Facebook (including Messenger), WhatsApp, Pinterest Snapchat and Viber. For those aged 16-24, who spend around 3 hours a day on social media alone, this is a big pull and sets them completely apart from the crowd. Of this same age group, only 15% see phone calls as the most important method of communication, making the 'unlimited calls' many other networks offer pale in comparison.

VOXI are not only offering a really great package here, but also showing consumers they get it. VOXI understand that times are changing, consumers needs and wants are changing, and have come up with a product that is moving with the times, not against them.

Blog Summary

Customer service is evolving. In order to stand out in an overcrowded marketplace, it's important to offer a little bit more to the 21st century's demanding customers. Make them feel secure, make them feel happy, and make them feel part of something, and shout it from the rooftops.

Want to know about showcasing customer happiness through the power of reviews? Head over to our website or jump on live chat with one of our advisors.