Ultimate Customer Experience: How to win at CX like Apple & LEGO

The ultimate customer experience pays dividends. According to Forrester, brands with the best customer experience generate 5.7 times more revenue than lagging competitors.

You stand to win if you focus on customer experiences that delight customers and champion a customer-centric culture. But how do you achieve this and take customer experiences to the next level?

Apple and LEGO create world-class customer experiences, and their brand communities play a vital role in this. To unpack how these experiences work, it helps to think of “Transcendent Customer Experiences.”

What is the ultimate customer experience?

Transcendent Customer Experiences (TCEs) could be the holy grail of customer experiences. They often involve “flow” or a peak experience. These qualities deeply affect a customer’s psyche, creating lasting changes to beliefs and behaviours.

TCEs often involve feelings of ecstasy and utter happiness. With the right strategy, your organisation can create them.

Mind map about TCEs.
What are transcendent customer experiences all about?

TCEs have a significant impact on a customer’s relationship with a brand. Self-transformation or self-actualisation are common characteristics of TCEs. The bottom line is that they can create powerful brand communities and exceptional brand loyalty.

Ideas of “emotional intensity… newness of the experience, extreme enjoyment… the extreme focus of attention, and the testing of personal limits.” are linked to TCEs.

Apple and LEGO have hit the TCE sweet spot, and their companies benefit from loyal customers, innovation, and impressive growth.

Why Apple has leading customer experience

Apple is among the best customer experience companies in the world. Apple’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 47 in 2021 reflects this. In 2017, Apple’s NPS was at 72 — a remarkably high score for the technology industry.

Steve Jobs seeded the company’s obsessive commitment to building the ultimate customer experience.

Steve Jobs with quote about leading customer experience.

Jobs led the way with his charisma, dedication to details, marketing prowess, and persistence. His leadership had a lasting effect on Apple’s product design and customer experience strategy.

Apple keynotes under Jobs became a spectacle to behold, continuing even after he died. These events were transcendent experiences shrouded in secrecy that evangelised many in the tech community and beyond. iPhone announcements had an air of mystery and a touch of magic.

After these events, attendees would often go away feeling increased loyalty to Apple and desiring their products, with many becoming fanatical. These carefully scripted events transformed the way people viewed categories of technology and built strong communities.

Communities built around Apple’s major events make up the best of Apple’s customer experiences.

How does Apple create great CX?

Apple understands the power of community as an ultimate customer experience. What ingredients form Apple communities? What makes them different from other companies?

1. An “us vs. them” mentality

Pitting the company against other companies strengthens the Apple community. The tactic is often present in Apple’s advertising campaigns.

2. Values, values, values

Apple knows who they are and where they’re going. Everyone knows what Apple stands for. For example, they are strong on issues like privacy, and this rallies specific communities around the organisation. Choose your values wisely and embed them into everything you do.

3. Intense empathy

The top customer-centric companies have lots of empathy. Apple doesn’t just have a cursory understanding of its customers; they live and breathe their customers. Everything Apple does focuses on the customer and their problems. If you want to build leading communities, build your empathic skills.

4. Never stop measuring touchpoints

Unlike many other companies, Apple excels at creating exceptional experiences at every touchpoint along the customer journey. Measuring of customer’s entire experience means Apple can avoid bad word of mouth and losing customers. Apple leaves no stone unturned, from clean and user-friendly design to its polished stores and highly trained customer support.

5. Sharing with frontline.

When you interact with employees at the Apple store, they are actively considering customer feedback and have awareness of their Net Promoter Score. Apple shares data with employees in real-time, and they receive compensation around it.

The Apple Store and the “Town Square” CX

The Apple Store has been central to Apple’s global success. The company now has over 500 stores in 25 regions, catering for millions of customers.

The stores have become an empowering hub for exploring Apple’s products and getting expert help. In recent years, this Apple store experience evolved, forming a flourishing brand community.

“Today at Apple” was a new initiative launched in May 2017 centred on educational programs for the community. Apple gave extra attention to teachers, entrepreneurs, and creatives.

Angela Ahrendts quote about Apple's retail stores.

Apple set a new benchmark for product-related free educational resources. “Today at Apple” introduced special sessions on topics ranging from photography and music to business and coding.

In the past decade, the customer experience strategy for the Apple Store began to revolve around the idea of being a community meeting place. Apple wanted to transform their stores into a “modern-day town square”. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has often questioned whether “store” was the right word to describe Apple retail stores because he felt they were much more than that.

Stores have also been a centrepiece for creating a community of evangelists. Any company looking to build a loyal community of evangelists should seek inspiration from Apple, which listens to its customers very carefully. Failing to gauge how your customers feel can quickly spiral out of control, so pay close attention.

The Worldwide Developers Conference

Apple’s yearly Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is an excellent example of how it bakes the ultimate customer experience into its communities.

WWDC has paid off as a transcendent customer-centric event. Why? It creates excitement and enthusiasm for Apple’s products and creates a high emotional intensity.

The event skilfully brings like-minded developers together in group sessions over multiple days with experts to learn about and develop for iOS and macOS. Many developers leave feeling energised and loyal to Apple.

Like other Apple events, WWDC has been one of Apple’s significant successes, central to building a growing developer community. This community became the backbone of the multi-billion-dollar app economy and much of Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPad.

The conference has empowered developers and helped them strengthen relationships with one another. It has shown off the work of leading developers and announced new platform functionality, a springboard for new apps.

The Apple App Store has seen outstanding community growth with over 2 million apps and revenue climbing steadily since 2016.

WWDC shows that building a healthy and prospering community is a crucial vehicle for high-return TCEs.

Quote about TCEs and the best customer experience.

What’s a key lesson? People who join in TCEs together “are likely to form bonds of kinship and understanding beyond those typically shared by users of the same product or service.

Organisations that prioritise their communities will enable strong connections between customers and their brand.

LEGO skilfully created a TCE with its LEGO Ideas community. The community propels innovation and growth at the company. The community forms oneness between customers and the LEGO brand.

In 2008, the LEGO Ideas community started to involve its customers in the design process for new LEGO sets. The initiative saw LEGO reverse its  performance, toppling Mattel as the world’s largest toymaker.

Community contributors that have their design selected receive 1% royalties. The community became a success, growing from 10,000 in 2011 to over 1 million members in 2018.

The community has been driven by passion, making it strong. LEGO Ideas offers an essential lesson for all brands. Making your community the lifeblood of your company and ensuring you listen to them in the product design process will create innovation and passionate customers.

Brand communities create environments that enable the connection between passionate customers and your brand.

LEGO ideas have been an excellent example of an open innovation process that asked: how can we involve our community in product development.

The result of LEGO ideas was a community experience that created intense loyalty and interactions that make customers feel like they influence the direction of an organisation.

How to create the best customer experience strategy like Apple and LEGO

Group of people holding LEGO people.

To build transcendent experiences, like brand communities, companies need to listen carefully to their customers through systematic wide scale voice of customer and net promoter system programs.

Listening through formal touchpoint programs creates a platform for understanding what makes the customer come back and what makes them leave.

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Contributor @samcx.com. Passionate about everything Sales, Marketing and Account Management.

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