We are operating at a time when the customer has tremendous power. Customers are equipped with more access, knowledge, choice and voice over the brands with which they interact. They are more informed, connected and influential over any touchpoint. If an experience is not meeting expectations, they can share that story to the world to affect the brand’s standing in the minds of the market.

One way to retain—and win customers—is to lead with a holistic and signature customer experience (CX) approach.

CX is the sum of interactions a person has with a brand over the lifecycle journey of a customer relationship. While these interactions might vary in scale and impact—from a phone call with a customer-service representative to shopping an e-commerce application to a social media story about the brand’s sustainability impact—they affect a brand’s status.

CX considers the customer, a critical stakeholder in our modern design and experience process. And embracing customer-centricity is a tremendous feat. Oftentimes, it shifts how brands have organized, operated and grown in the past. It means that customers not only have a seat at the leadership table, but that they are the ultimate decision makers.

But prioritizing and orchestrating a quality customer experience is essential to fostering a trusted relationship with the customer across all touchpoints.

And not all CX is created equal. Some experiences are not in the brand’s full control and rely on networks of partners, communities and systems. In short, many interactions are not directly from the brand or potentially “on-brand” at all, and it is up to company leadership to connect, influence or manage those third-party interactions with the same care as the ones they own. Here are several characteristics that create a great CX that unlocks the magic inside a brand and, ultimately, creates moments that are purposeful, valuable and human.

1) Surprising

Not what was anticipated, but better—exponentially better than imagined. For anyone out there who is an American Express member, recall the first time you were dealing with travel frustrations and were permitted into their airport lounges to re-energize before continuing on your journey. The space is full of magic, from the premium servicing to the privacy spaces and the ability to customize your food and beverage orders that are far superior to those in many terminal food markets.

2) Relevant

Personally tailored to you and your situation. Spotify exudes relevancy in their experience with using data to provide hyper-tailored discovery of new content.

3) Distinct

Delivering a signature experience that the rest of the competitive set can’t match, so you become the benchmark for others to succeed. CVS stands for something far beyond your local convenience shopping and pharmacy location; they stand for health—and even made it their name. By transforming their physical spaces into health hubs, removing cigarettes from locations and innovating their digital services to deliver a genuinely empathetic experience, they stand out from the pack.

4) Captivating

Consuming the undivided attention even when other choices are available, because the brand’s value is so high compared to those other activities. For those interested in gaming, Amazon’s Twitch is almost an ever-present window into the gamer community that builds long-standing relationships with members to watch and share. It even helps creators grow through their robust features, events and partnerships.

5) Simple

An experience that is easy to understand, interact and participate with provides spectacular clarity. Such technology superpowers as Apple and Google have leveraged the power of simplicity to make complex technology intuitive.

A simple customer experience is especially important. At Siegel+Gale, we’ve found that those who have a simpler experience compared to their competitors are not only more likely to recommend that brand, but they will champion that brand too. Suppose people can intuitively, clearly and easily interact with a brand in an exceptional way without barriers or complexity. In that case, people thrive and want to include others in it, as it’s inherently more open for anyone to join in. And that’s what a great CX should do: invite, ignite, and inspire.