Thanks for all your thoughtful responses to last week’s post about why companies fail to meet customer needs. Clearly there’s more work to be done in that department, but for now, I want to move on to the next Customer Experience Index (CXi) criteria: “easy.” Many firms claim to be easy to do business with, but which ones got the highest rating from customers?

This year, USAA (bank) and Kohl’s both earned a score of 92% in this category.

For USAA, there is definitely some overlap between its ability to identify latent customer needs and its level of easiness. For example, depositing a check via mobile phone makes the deposit process easier for everyone, not just the most geographically dispersed parts of the customer base. Strong customer understanding also led to creation of the Auto Circle experience, which is designed to make the entire car buying process easier for customers, not just the parts that a financial institution like USAA would typically have been involved in.

Kohl’s promises to be easy to do business with on its website in a section titled “Our Convenience.” It calls out specific things that the company thinks make its stores easy to navigate like wide aisles and centralized checkouts. An online fact sheet lists more initiatives designed to make Kohl’s easy like the hassle-free return policy it’s been touting in commercials lately, digital signs, and kiosks that let customers order items and have them shipped home for free.

Now, let’s be honest — many of these tactics aren’t unique to Kohl’s. And just promising to be easy isn’t enough; lots of companies make that promise and then fail to live up to it. But given that the CXi reflects the voice of the customer, it seems Kohl’s is executing on its promises fairly well.

Perhaps that's because Kohl’s isn't trying to do anything too fancy. I haven’t spoken to the company yet myself to see what's going on, but it seems as though it's spending less time on the latest bells and whistles and more time on developing a disciplined approach to managing customer experience fundamentals. That approach isn’t sexy, for sure. But maybe it doesn't have to be.

Has your company built out a process for consistently delivering on the essentials of an easy experience? I’ve seen firms try things like customer experience standards, unified processes, compliance monitoring, and employee training with varying degrees of success. What's worked for you? Under what conditions?