How do you differentiate your brand in highly competitive markets, especially when competitors promptly copy anything that works? Learn from HaiDiLao, China’s most popular chain of hot-pot restaurants. HaiDiLao evokes positive emotions from customers with memorably crafted human interactions. The company empowers its staff to personalize experience delivery as customers or scenarios demand.

Let me tell you a story: my personal experience at HaiDiLao.

Years ago, I went to a HaiDiLao restaurant in Beijing with some colleagues of mine. I wanted to order fish fillet, but our server told us they didn’t have any left. She recommended shrimp balls instead, so we ordered that. I remember telling my colleagues it was a pity that they didn’t have any fish because that was my favorite. But it’s not like I complained or anything like that. Servers started to bring food to our table, and we started to eat. The food was quite tasty!

But after 15 minutes or so, the first server came back to our table and said: “Since you like fish so much, I went to the supermarket downstairs and bought some for you. Here you are. Of course, that is on the house, free of charge.”

WOW! It was such an amazing experience that left an indelible mark in my memory.

In my latest Forrester report, “Case Study: HaiDiLao Cooks The Competition With Memorable Customer Service,” I detail some of the customer experience (CX) best practices that HaiDiLao operationalized into its business to create memorable experiences in a fiercely competitive market. And if you were wondering, HaiDiLao is a very profitable business, with a revenue CAGR of more than 23% between 2012 and 2017.

Establish Strong CX Culture Practices To Build Long-Term Success

What can you learn from HaiDiLao? To drive successful CX transformation and differentiate your brand, you must:

  • Inject customer-centric thinking across the organization. CX leaders need to seed and nurture an empathetic culture to support successful and sustainable CX transformation.
  • Improve employees’ day-to-day work lives. To create differentiated customer experiences, CX leaders must nurture practices that focus employees on higher-value work while augmenting their intelligence and awareness by easing collaboration across the CX delivery ecosystem.
  • Redesign customer service to be a strategic differentiator. Organizations that focus too much on operational efficiencies at the expense of establishing genuine human connections will miss the opportunity to create sustainable competitive advantage.