Top-4 Brands with the Best “Total Experience” Customer Journey

From quick service restaurants and retail to banking, these leading brands are providing an ideal balance of digital and physical customer experiences

Despite the continual rise of online and mobile channels, today’s consumer isn’t all in on only digital experience to the exclusion of others.

In fact, recent data on customer satisfaction finds that consumers want to interact seamlessly with brands across all platforms. Even more, human interaction is what makes ALL channels more meaningful. “Though people prefer personalization – driven by data and digital – they expect to connect with brands on a more human level,” as spotlighted by Believe in Banking.  “While coordinating channels into an omnichannel experience is best practice, consumers say humanity matters most.”

In banking, that human touch has the most resonance at the branch, but it’s also prominently featured in virtual customer service channels through call centers, chat windows and on video screens. This blurring of lines between digital and physical is what some describe as “omnichannel,” but what Adrenaline calls a more mature, laddered “Total Experience” customer journey. Consumers expect a digital experience that they can log onto on their own time, but then for that experience to seamlessly bleed over into the physical space. What started on a chat carries through to the in-person interaction, with knowledgeable bankers there to bring the conversation home.

It’s a world of endless choices that span channels and buying experiences – a world where bricks and mortar has a role, the online store has a role, and neither will fully replace the other. Consumers don’t see these channels as separate or distinct, just as different aspects of their everyday life. When experience defines how consumers buy, what will retailers sell?”
– Ernst & Young

As bank strategists, we respect customer preference for accessing options at the time and place of their choosing. That even includes times when customers bypass what the institution deems as more efficient channels, like mobile and the drive-thru, to instead walk through the doors of the branch. While integration of digital capabilities into the banking experience is now non-negotiable, we have to remember there are two users of these capabilities – the customer accessing increasing functionality and the bankers who should be empowered to connect the dots when digital changes to an in-person interaction. 

If apps or online options cause friction for either party in this equation, the customer experience goes awry. That’s why we see consistent calls for “seamless” omnichannel delivery. But we believe a “Total Experience” approach takes the idea of seamlessness even further, and that includes the experience of the bankers to serve customers in a digital manner even while in the physical space – blending digital with physical, but taking the best aspects from each. Ultimately, the difference between omnichannel and a more mature “Total Experience” is subtle but significant.

For banks to successfully navigate these physical-digital demands, they first must determine the priority of the experience they want to create. Two distinct ways to think about the prioritization are whether experiences they create are human-led and digitally enabled or digital-led, and human enabled. One isn’t better than the other – just different – and ultimately based on a brand’s promise and delivery model. To help illustrate what Total Experience looks like in the real world when it’s human-led or digital-led, we’ve put together some best-in-class brands delivering these more mature total experiences.

1. Starbucks

This storied coffee brand is an example of digital-led, human enabled. The Starbucks app delivers on loyalty and drives repeat customer visits to collect stars and free stuff, from drinks to merchandise. A customer can order a coffee complete with six modifications and walk in, pick it up and walk out. The app also enables the barista to make that special ultra-modified drink to the customer’s specifications guided by the digital ticketing system. The baristas make the coffee, but it is a digitally-led experience. Starbucks was wise to add this enhanced functionality to the barista interface at the same time they offered the extended service of digital pickup orders through the app. And for those customers who enjoy the in-person Starbucks experience, the stores still feature the signature music and ambience the shops originally became known for.

2. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is the perfect example of human-led, digital enabled. Who wasn’t amazed when they made an American standard – the drive thru – even faster and more efficient AND more personalized and human at the same time? By using tablets to take orders and accept payment, the quick service restaurant brand made an operational play to untether the extremely polite team members taking customer orders. Now, the signature Southern brand has gone even further, making that evolved experience better with the Chick-fil-A One mobile app. Yes, the employees are well-trained ambassadors of a culture that makes Chick-fil-A great, but they’re also empowered by smart digital tools that expertly unite the physical store and digital delivery.

3. Comerica

In banking, Comerica is a prime example of a human-led, digitally enabled brand. The customer-centric bank puts people first even as they strengthen their digital capabilities, like through their Banker Connect ITM. Even more, the regional banking leader thoughtfully leverages their physical presence and network strength as the entry point to the customers’ consideration set. One powerful example is their latest format – the goMERICA Mobile Branch – that provides a turnkey, flexible solution for Comerica to create new connections as they move into opportunity-rich locations, which helps the regional banking leader amplify their perceived convenience as they grow.

4. The Apple Store

The Apple Store is a great example of a human-led, digitally enabled experience. Customers make their appointments for technical support online or through an app, but as soon as they hit the store, it’s a fully human experience. Customers don’t have to navigate a confounding series of digital prompts to get their problems solved. Instead, they talk to a highly trained, educated Apple Genius. When customers walk in, an associate greets them and plugs into their device to begin troubleshooting. The store is also a bright and shiny beacon featuring the latest Apple products, so additional cross-sell is possible, but not something that is pushed onto the customer as they achieve what they came in to accomplish, an in-person consultation.

For more information on optimizing channels for better customer experience and growth, or to speak with one of our banking experts, contact us at Be sure to also stay tuned in to Believe in Banking as it highlights industry information and insights for banking leaders and Adrenaline’s Insights channel featuring additional banking and credit union strategies for success.

Adrenaline is an end-to-end brand experience company serving the financial industry. We move brands and businesses ahead by delivering on every aspect of their experience across digital and physical channels, from strategy through implementation. Our multi-disciplinary team works with leadership to advise on purpose, position, culture, and retail growth strategies. We create brands people love and engage audiences from employees to customers with story-led design and insights-driven marketing; and we design and build transformative brand experiences across branch networks, leading the construction and implementation of physical spaces that drive business advantage and make the brand experience real.

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