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3½ Customer Experience Lessons from Copenhagen Airport

Airports are busy places with many different stakeholders and very different objectives. In that environment, the end customer can often be marginalised or even forgotten. With frustrations such as being taken on a meandering detour through a retail jungle when you are in search of a departure gate, struggling to understand why it feels like there is only one loo for every 1,000 passengers or having to sprint to meet the person picking you up so they avoid a £50 fine for waiting to greet you for more than 5 minutes.

That said, despite pressures from retailers and regulators, some airports can be places of inspirations with a wealth of Customer Experience ideas for any practitioners to learn from.

#1 Managing your customer’s expectations

Too often brands miss the opportunity to reduce their customer’s anxiety. Explaining what will happen next and when it will happen helps customers. As well as creating an extra engagement point. It also demonstrates a company know how to help customers by improving their emotional state. Which in turn connects the company to it’s customers at a deeper emotional level.

It’s played out brilliantly here. The time it will take to get to the departure gate is blasted to the ground (picture above). The anxious passenger can now assess their situation. With markings updating distance to the gate in time every 30 seconds, they can track their progress. If enough time, the passenger can relax more. If the passenger is short of time, they can speed up. Either way the signpost is helpful and increases appreciation of the airport facilities.

#2 Personalising the experience

I’ll never forget being invited to speak at an Airline conference when a customer aviation expert claimed the future of airline travel was about ‘personalisation’. He then presented several airline ticket, insurance and hotel bundles labelled as propositions such as ‘the weekender’ and ‘family fun’. He boasted that when bought together by passengers they were actually more expensive than the individual parts. But it would be made so complicated that customers wouldn’t be able to work it out! Even worse than this, the audience applauded! I felt very alone sitting on that ‘customer’ panel. It showed how outdated some thinking is in this space.

Customer Experience works when it’s ‘personal’ to a customer’s needs rather than personalised. I feel this example explains it well. At Copenhagen, like many airports, passengers need to pass through the baggage collection section to get to the exit. Those with only hand luggage don’t want to get caught up in there they want to find a way through.

For these passengers they want to get on with their trip sooner. That’s partly why they’ve crammed everything in to their hand luggage. This ‘fast exit’ message decal shouts out to this audience. Personal doesn’t need to be 1 to 1, it’s about being relevant to specific needs.

#3 Keep customers before you lose them

Some sectors are guilty of this more than others. Here’s the scenario; Retail company ‘A’ knows it has a problem with its returns because they receive social media noise reports and get angry calls to the call centre from disgruntled customers. But it’s not tracked in VoC because the VoC vendor hasn’t scoped that journey in their requirements. So, first the additional work is scoped and paid for. Feedback is then collected.  The CX team can then get to work on the issue (maybe after some more mapping). Eventually the team identify it’s down to the poor service contract in place with the outsourced collection courier. But procurement tell the CX team the contract with the courier was a keen one and is locked down for 12 more months. Following which a change can be looked at. 6 months on and the CX team start to work out what’s needed (a new collection courier company) and put together the Requirements Specification for a new vendor selection process. Which they initiate 6 months later. Which is also the first time customers find out about it.

However, in the meantime all the customers have left!

Why not share progress with customers throughout? If you know something’s wrong, flag it earlier. As you start to get an inclination of what’s gone wrong, get on with it. Keep customers updated throughout – tell them you know it’s not working, why it’s not working and that you are doing something about it. Share your plans with on how you will get it right and by when. Offer customers the chance to put in their views to help get to a better place. This involvement demonstrates you care and you are progressive. Customers value this sometimes as much as the fix!

At Copenhagen Airport there is major disruption, but it doesn’t feel like it becuase passengers are brought into the story and shown what’s coming and why. Even if the passenger passing through isn’t around to benefit from the final change they know it’s happening and accepting of the move from ‘AS IS’ to ‘TO BE’.

So that just leave the extra 1/2

For me this is about observation. It’s only half a lesson because it’s an approach rather than an outcome. Customer Experience is all around us. We interact with it daily and are a part of a company’s well worked plans too every time we enquire, purchase, use, enquire, visit or transact. There are lessons to learn from these experiences too.

I didn’t make a b-line for Copenhagen Airport to write a blog on my customer experience observations, I was there to help a client structure a business case for CX investment against return. But whether it’s walking through Copenhagen Airport on the return leg of a work trip, purchasing corner flags online from Sports Direct for a team development workshop (which turn up after they were needed) and getting radio silence when trying to return them or noting how many companies didn’t follow-up having given my details to them at the Grand Designs Show and how well those few that did have done from their attention, opportunities for CX ideas are everywhere.

So, put a Moleskin pocket-book on your birthday list, set you iPhone to camera mode and build your own insight bank of CX ideas and inspiration as you go about your daily business.

In the meantime, feel free to review our blogs, or contact me to raid examples from my much always growing collection of good, bad and ugly examples.

To finish, when it comes to finding new ideas for CX, as Ferris Bueller, the most eligible bachelor of them all, put it…

Happy CX hunting.

Posted by Christopher Brooks.  Director, Lexden Limited, Customer Experience Consultancy.

If you’d like to receive more articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our free monthly ‘Customer Experience Update’.

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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Free Customer Experience Progress Assessment

As independent Customer Experience Consultants, we have launched a free Customer Experience Programme Assessment tool to help clients review their internal practices against several areas where alignment is required to achieve distinction through customer experience.

We see the benefit to you as follows:

  • Identify the key areas involved in progressing CX
  • Identify where you are ahead or behind others in terms of your CX progress
  • Assess what progress looks like, to ensure you are good shape to get there
  • Help you assess where you are ahead of any resource decisions coming up
  • Get a quick read (within 3 days) with minimum impact on the business
  • Provide current state insight which you can share with others helping you take CX forward
  • Validate or challenge advice and recommendations received from current CX partners
  • Receive an independent observation separate to any vendor supported opinions

As independents we have no invested interest in the outcome

We include consideration of feedback platforms and other technologies alongside the other key areas of CX rather than the focus as is often the case with vendor assessments. We are in the business of best practice guidance and effective advice rather than tech solutions. So our report provides you with a broader appreciation of how far you’ve progressed.

Each of the key practice areas (such as channel management, accountability, tech, adoption, measurement and culture) are graded from ‘Unaware’ to ‘Differentiating. The grading is based on Lexden’s extensive experience in setting up and improving clients CX programmes. Your progress is plotted accordingly with an output report highlighting your overall progress and breaking this down across key areas. A comparison of your performance to other companies is also made across each area.

More than one assessment per company can be completed. This means you can use the approach to gauge the variance in perceptions of CX progress across the business between different individuals, levels, roles, departments, locations or even brands in a group set up. Let us know if this is the intended purpose and we will aggregate results as well as supply specific reports.

Click this link to the survey which will take 10-15 minutes to complete. Information collected is confidential. Once the assessment is complete we will confirm this and forward the output within 3 days.

How to achieve 600% from your Customer Experience Programme

If you are looking for something more comprehensive we also provide a robust assessment of the profitability level your CX programme is achieving, bench-marked against over 1,000 organisations. Adapting the award winning CX Typology(c) Measuring Customer Experience research of Dr Professor Phil Klaus, we assess your current programme against 47 practice points. Arriving at a score, CXPPA (Customer Experience Programme Profitability Assessments) pin points where improvements in your programme should be focused, and how to align your actions to those of organisation who are driving 600% more from their CX programmes. To receive more information on this exclusive assessment please contact us.

If you’d like to receive more articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our free monthly ‘Customer Experience Update’.

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you’ve got a CX challenge, see if we can help.

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Are you wasting money on Customer Experience?

With 90% of CEO’s prioritising Customer Experience as a leading business practice(1), financial scrutiny on performance will only increase to retain board confidence and commitment. However, 90% of programmes are failing to deliver (2) their potential.

How can you be sure Customer Experience investment is correctly prioritised?

Most manuals and professional CX speakers would advise practioners to fix what’s upsetting customers and move on to making a point of distinction on what they rave about. Which should push up satisfaction and recommendation scores.

However, both these customer experience strategies require investment to succeed. What if there is no budget? Can you ‘hedge’ the required investment against incremental sales/profit this focus will deliver? It’s probably not that safe to do so. Evidence shows that only 1% of share of category can be reliably attributed back to these conventional measures (email me if you want more on why this is).

A more linear approach is to show the reduction in ‘bad demand’ operational costs associated with managing activities creating negative feedback on specific touchpoints. This would show an accountable reduction in costs. Albeit costs created by a bad customer experience in the first place. So should they be classed as a win, or an own goal? Either way, it’s a start.

This gives you the two more common strategies for CX growth pursued:

  1. Improve that which the business is poor at but customer’s value (also known as the ‘Fix’ phase)
  2. Leverage that which the business is good at and customer’s value (also known as ‘Build’ phase)

The shortfall here is that the hit list for these strategies rely on customer’s feeding back about what’s great and what’s not. But what if customers don’t vex about an issue? And why wouldn’t they –  because it’s not on their radar? What if there’s nothing wrong or right about an experience but because it’s not important to customers it never gets raised? With most VoC set ups if you don’t hear about it often it gets considered not worth looking at.

A conventional approach focuses on capturing feedback on customer’s sentiment and intention. But as proved on most voting days, intention and behaviour are often distant relatives. Whereas, understanding actual behaviour caused by Customer Experience is evidence of what customer’s do.

So rather than only asking how satisfied a customer is with an activity or experience, or which activities they are satisfied with or otherwise, understanding how important an activity is to a customer’s share of category commitment brings behavioural based measurement in to CX. Actual behaviour is a significantly more reliable indicator of decision making than intention.

This moves the focus from knowing some of what’s going on, to knowing everything

With fix and build programmes linked to CSAT and NPS inferred scores, there is a read on, ‘what we are good at and what we are not so good at’. By complimenting this with behavioural change insights we are now answering, ‘what customer experiences matters most to a customer’s decision to commit share of category’. This adds the missing commercial dimension to CX performance management and with it reveals two further CX strategies for practioners to pursue. As well as sharpen the purpose of the ‘Improve’ and ‘Leverage’ strategies too:

  1. Monitor and refine/remove CX which the business is poor at and does not impact customer’s decision to commit to us
  2. Improve CX which the business is poor at but impacts customer’s decision to commit to us
  3. Leverage CX which the business is good at impacts customer’s decision to commit to us
  4. Explore the potential in CX Opportunities which the business is good at but does not impact customer’s decision to commit to us

These are shown in Lexden’s MILO matrix below, which enables prioritisation of CX investment.

Lexden’s CX MILO Matrix

The ‘Monitor’ strategy identifies investment which is under-performing and not needed (or as the headline state where a company is ‘wasting money on CX’).

With conventional feedback this insight isn’t unearthed because it’s the customer experience that doesn’t matter to customers, so it rarely gets asked for or feedback provided – whether it’s good or bad. But if this collated less meaningful activity can be refined, reduced or removed and rationalised costs redeployed to the ‘Improve’ and ‘Leverage’ strategies.

Which leaves the ‘Opportunity’ strategy, which provides untapped potential for new areas to consider. These could provide future advantage in a maturing CX-led organisation if reshaped and made important to the customer’s decision making or outcomes fulfilment.

You may be questioning this only works if you know what activities matter in the first place, and their relative degree of importance. If you were starting from scratch that would take longer and cost more to work out than would be of use.

Fortunately, the missing golden insight is already available

Leading CX academic Dr Professor Phil Klaus developed a quality of experience measure which identifies which customer experiences impact customer’s behavioural decisions. In conjunction with Prof Klaus, we work with this leading edge CX insight measure, which means we can now add ‘behavioural change’ insight to existing NPS and CSAT measures to create the missing commercial rigour CX deserves.

With ten years and over 1,000 case studies complete, this award-winning insight informs companies on ‘what matters most’ and ‘what doesn’t matter at all’ when it comes to customer experiences impacting share of category decision making. By identifying the most important 25 customer attributes and experiences (refined from a total of 300), the ‘Experience Quality Measure’ accounts for up to 88% of a customer’s decision making. Making it the most reliable CX measurement available.

Each individual study completed highlights the specific set of activities and their relative importance for that company. No two outcomes are the same making it the unique CX DNA of a company. The principal advantages of this approach are as follows:

  • It doesn’t matter which CX measure you have in place already, or which VoC platform you use, we run a one-off separate study alongside what’s already in place.
  • The volume of customer contacts engaged to arrive at the experience measure is around 125, so it’s a much smaller study all round, than a VoC programme commitment
  • We are now into our third year working with the approach and translating the academic science into a more workable and accessible insight source for clients to prove profitability from CX
  • The measurement won’t shift overnight, because it’s based on actual behaviour change, not just opinion. So, we recommend capturing and tracking progress annually
  • Competitor data is also captured which means we also know 1) who else has your customer’s share of category and 2) what customer experiences attract your customers to them
  • This insight can be identified and the MILO matrix complete within 8 weeks

So, there you have it. The ability to identify what drives share of category rather than just favourable commentary.  The confidence to pull out from your plan those activities which matters least. The insight to keep ahead of your competition in CX. Which means CX leaders can demonstrate to budget holders that CX investment isn’t being wasted. In fact, with all four of the MILO strategies pursed it’s driving profitable growth.

If you’d be interested to see how it works with a case study or how easy it is to add this essential CX insight to the CX governance, please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com 

If you’d like to receive more of these, and other articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our newsletter.

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience. If you’ve got a CX challenge, see if we can help.

(1) Bain (2) Dr Professor Phil Klaus
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5 of the best: Top Customer Experience ideas and inspiration direct from CX hot seats

We’ve been running a series of interviews with CX Directors charged with shaping and driving their company’s Customer Experience. With several now complete, we thought we’d pause and share the articles as a collection.

At Lexden, we are committed to customer experience as an effective business model. And whilst we enjoy applying our expertise to help clients leverage the effectiveness of their programmes, we believe much of what needs to be done can be done by taking inputs from others in the same role. Which means you need external support less, but when it is needed, it’s valued more.

With utilities, retail, entertainment and finance covered we hope there are tips and advice in here for everyone.

How intu Are Revolutionising the Destination Shopping Experience for Consumers

Read the full interview with Roger Binks, Director of Customer Experience. Click here.

At British Gas a Customer Strategy Is Useless, Unless People Believe in It

Read the full interview with Richard Shenton, (former) Customer Experience and Continuous Improvement Lead. Click here.

FSForum CX Award winners, OneSavingsBank say, “Take Everyone on the Journey with You”

Read the full interview with Kent Reliance’s Head of Customer Strategy & Insight, Stephen Plimmer. Click here.

When You Are in Your Customers’ Homes, You Have to Make It Right according to Carpet Right

Read the full interview with Carpet Right’s Head of Customer Experience, Toni Adams. Click here.

npower explain how customers are taking centre stage

Read the full interview with npower’s Head of Customer Experience, Kelly Iles. Click here.

With aviation, insurance, and hospitality lined up for 2017, we look forward to bringing further inspiration later this year. All our interviews are sent to our Customer Experience Update subscribers.

If you’d like to receive more of these, and other articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our newsletter.

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience. If you’ve got a CX challenge, see if we can help.

 

 

 

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Customer Lifetime Value – can you solve the formula?

Can you solve the formula
to the right?
If you paid as much attention to algebra as me in maths lessons at school, probably not.

That said, I can almost guarantee that you do understand the formula (or at the very least will by the end of this blog!).

In my time working on a very progressive service initiative in the commercial insurance area, the organisation I was with were responsible for a huge upturn in their new business, rate and retention results by understanding that just because a customer doesn’t choose you this time, doesn’t mean they will make the same decision the next time round.

What will dictate their next decision will be the feelings and associations they have of you and your brand as a result of the experience you gave them.

I listened in to a call once where a city Broker spoke with our Trader to say he was placing a £900k risk with a rival insurer after three months of effort on our Traders part. I’ll never forget the startled reaction of the Broker as our trader told him:

“not a problem, well done, you’ve done a great job to get that price. We’d love to speak with you about it again next year, I’ll put something in our diaries as a reminder”.

Not only did we win back the risk the next year, but we got a lot more incremental business in the following 12 months from the Broker.

Moving on to an example of a slightly smaller value, my mortgage company with whom I also have a credit card and a debit card (let’s call it a 321 debit card) recently failed to apply the new rate I had chosen following my initial two year rate coming to its end. They said they hadn’t received the letter, I knew I had sent it – it was their word against mine and as a result of the mistake, I had been overpaying for three months.

As the conversation unfolded, it became clear that the experience I had expected; application of the new rate going forwards, and no reimbursement for me, wasn’t going to happen. In fact, the excellent, empathetic, and well trained advisor applied and backdated the rate, taking the corresponding amount of money off my next mortgage payment.

Am I likely to move my mortgage or any of my cards now? Not a chance.

We at Lexden take the same view. We feel that when deciding whether to set out on a CX journey or not, the last thing any organisation should do is call in the consultants to decide for them.

It sounds counter-intuitive coming from a CX consultant, but it’s something that we beleive must be owned and driven from within rather than outsourced. It can lead to a complete lack of ownership of CX within the business.

Whereas we find the most fruitful engagements are those with clients who have a clear desire to deliver excellent experiences. We do of course help them understand what matters most to their customers and how to amplify their authentic difference through customer experience, but throughout we are ensuring ownership, drive and knowledge rests with our clients.

Our experience of this approach has led to client’s inviting us back in and welcoming us rather than judging the value of CX support provided, time after time. This is my understanding of customer lifetime value (even if I still can’t quite decode the equation!)

Posted by James Edmonds, Senior Consultant, Lexden

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer Experience’ Update for monthly ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

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At last! A complete listing of all Customer Experience Conference Events

Earlier this week, we hosted an impromptu gathering of CX leaders for an afternoon tea and a chance to share best practice and trade battles scar stories. One of the areas discussed was the growing number of Customer Experience events and conferences now running.

Some said they went often, some not at all. But all agreed there are so many now it’s difficult to keep on top of what’s happening and which events you will get the most value from.

We worked out that if you attend all events you would need a budget of more than £200,000 and over 100 days on the road each year. Increase the budget and you could be travelling from Dallas to Dublin to Dubai to furnish your CX knowledge banks!

With Customer Experience being such a popular and potentially profitable business model, the signs are that the conference circuit will only be getting busier!

Which is why we have decided to compile a complete list of all Customer Experience events provided by event promoters and vendors in one place. That way anyone thinking of attending can compare and plan where to go more easily.

Initially, it will be a listing with some basic criteria highlighted (e.g. sectors, top speakers, location, dates of events, prices, formats, link to websites etc.). But over time we intend to extend the criteria and gather ratings and opinions from those who attend. All of which should allow anyone looking to attend an event a more informed decision.

If of interest to you, sign up and we will send you the listing.

We will be producing a free quarterly listing of what CX events are coming up. We may eventually set this up on our website with filters so you can search based on sectors, dates, prices etc. Our first listing will be released later this month.

Why attend CX events at all? We support attending the right events. Having spoken and attended before, I know if you pick the right event it will be jam-packed with insight, ideas and inspiration. You can meet some wonderful people in CX there who are generous with the benefit of their experience and will walk away with learning relevant to your business challenges. All of which adds up to a day well spent.

But pick the wrong event and you could be listening to other people’s worlds failing to connect them to yours, feel passively sold to by vendors, find yourself edging into a corner to lunch away from the over-networking crowd and eventually decide that the ‘not quite so urgent’ email needs immediate attention and leave early.

So why are we doing this? We are independent Customer Experience Consultants and not associated with any group or vendor running these events. Those who know us know we like to help those in CX improve their skills, what they do and what positive change they deliver. So, whenever we see the opportunity to do this we endeavour to help.

 

 

 

Lexden delivers effective customer experience solutions for clients serious about sustainable customer relationships.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer Experience’ Update for monthly ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours.

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Achieve World Class Customer Experience in 3 Steps

Most organisations have invested in a customer experience programme. Some are making a real success of theirs. We’ve had the pleasure of supporting some of these with their endeavours, interviewed CX leaders about their progress, judged winning CX award entries and experienced award success with our own clients.

However, we’ve also seen the evidence of programmes which fail to make the grade. There are a number of reasons for this. Sadly, it often boils down to investment in technology choices, neglecting to bring key stakeholders on the journey and chasing the wrong KPI’s.

But, any company can be transformed into delivering an award winning, world class customer experience which they are recognised for and their customers choose them over other choices for, in three steps. Furthermore, all three steps can be complete with 4 months.

3-steps-pic

Step 1 CX Programmes Profitability Alignment

Make sure the CX Programme activities are aligned to those which are known to drive success

Only 10% of CX programmes achieve their profit potential. It’s not surprising, research conducted in this area has identified there are 47 critical activities, which managed effectively, increase programme profitability by 600%. Now available as an evaluation tool (CXPPA) developed from CX Typology research(1), any organisation can benchmark how they are set up and managing CX against the world’s most successful performing programmes.

This evaluation not only benchmarks, but identifies how programmes compare to the best CX performers, as well as recommends what needs to be improved in which order to increase profitability. This step is achievable in 3 to 4 weeks.

Step 2 Prioritising What Matters Most 

Know what experiences matters most to customer’s decisions to choose one brand over others

Attention should always identify ‘what matters most to customers’ early.

By which we don’t mean, how to ‘make it easy’ or how to ‘personalise the experience’, we mean understanding what drives customer’s behavioural change. This is the most reliable indicator of customer’s decision to choose one organisation over another. In addition, it is a very effective way to understand how to improve both Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores.

Research conducted(2) into what drivers customer experience behaviour has identified that 25 customer drivers account for over 80% of everything any CX leader needs to know about what customers want fulfilled.

However, many of these 25 drivers have little to no influence on customer decision-making so are surplus to requirements. Which means if you reduce investment in them, performance scores stay the same, but costs can be taken out. Meaning the company is more profitable overall.

In addition, those drivers which are the most influential, are highlighted. This is where a company should focus CX investment to increase NPS, CSAT, profitability and success.

These drivers are known as Experience Quality Measures (EXQ) and are the work of Dr Professor Phil Klaus, world-renowned Customer Experience Academic.

Through Lexden, all companies can now identify their own EXQ set and with it know what to prioritise to improve their NPS and CSAT performance. This step is achievable in 4-6 weeks.

Step 3 Competitor Advantage with Customer Experience

Make sure the brand difference is amplified through the experiences 

The third step, enables a company to achieve competitive advantage through customer experience. Why is this worth noting? Much customer experience efforts are operationally or technologically efficient improvements. These are typically delivered with little consideration of how to build brand distinction. This means competitors can copy the ides and therefore neutralise any brand advantage which could have been achieved. In fairness, brand doesn’t help as the brand architecture is not seen as accessible working tool to apply

However, by designing a Brand Experience Platform, this is overcome and the brand becomes an asset to the customer experience. It is made up of two principal elements:

  • Brand Experience Idea – which acts as a rallying cry for all colleagues to connect the advantage of the brand to the importance of customer experience, in a way which all can understand.
  • Branded Customer Standards – these are the set of drivers (as mentioned in step 2) which matters most to customers, translated into standards the company must deliver to in a way only they can. This is most powerful when standards relate to profitability. These ‘standards’ can then be used universally by the company to design internal practices and ways of working and external delivery and experiences. All employees can then confidently work to deliver consistent experiences, which will further reinforce brand distinction.

Step 3 is about putting a framework in place to ensure consistency and making the most of the brand. Achievable in 6-8 weeks.

So there you have it. Three steps to take any programme from where it is to world-class.

All three programmes are available from Lexden should assistance getting there be needed. We’d be happy to share more with you and see if we can add real value to your endeavours. However, ownership of what you do and why, must stay within the organisation, not leave with the consultancy or customer feedback platform provider (the fourth reason for failure!).

cb2

 

 

 

Lexden delivers effective customer experience solutions for clients serious about sustainable customer relationships.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer Experience’ Update for monthly ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours.

(1) CX Typology is the copyright of Prof Dr Phil Klaus.

(2) Experience Quality Measurement (EXQ) focuses on the behavioural change achieved by a brand through customer experience. EXQ is the copyright of Prof Dr Phil Klaus.

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Lexden’s top 3 Customer Experience moments of 2016

As you would expect from a Customer Experience Consultancy, we collect examples of good and bad practice in customer experience as sales execs collect air-miles. So the office conversation often turns to something we’ve seen or experienced and what impact we feel it has on customer’s future commitment to that brand.

We took this ‘I wonder’ a little further and created two twitter characters to collect stories from people too. Grumpy persona @vexvox collects and distributes stories from others on the woes of customer experience, whilst his upbeat cousin @fondfox shares applauds stories of positive customer experience.

If you want to here what people have been saying about your brand, let us know

Keeping the mood on customer experience light, we’ve collated our favourite three experiences from last year. We hope you find these examples inspirational and can see how the ‘themes’ involved can be taken back and embedded in to your own programmes.

#1 Adidas (Christopher, MD, Lexden)

July 2016 and walking down the Champs-Elysee my son spots an Adidas store. Despite his heart being set on a pair of Nike ‘sock’ football boots for his birthday the following month, we go in.

adiddas-2

In the store, we were approached. When we mentioned the sock boot the assistant said the only way to know if the Adidas boot might be better is to play football in them. At which point he got a pair out which my son tried. The Adidas assistant also got out a ball and turned the shop into a training ground; passing, lobbing over clothes rails and shooting at walls. My son stated it was one of the highlights of his time in Paris. The next month he switched his allegiance and requested a pair of Adidas sock boots for his birthday. Link to full article.

#2 Wordery (Leanne, Office Manager, Lexden)

wordery2One of the gifts Leanne ordered up as a Christmas present for a nephew was an Aladdin, popup book which also played music. Although on opening it her nephew found it didn’t play anything. Fretting about how to get it returned as it had been free delivery, Leanne contacted the online retailer, Wordery. Their returns policy couldn’t have been better. They apologised, didn’t question the legitimacy of the dispute, explained even though it doesn’t happen often a replacement was in the post already. Not bad.

But what about returning the faulty book? Returns are proving to be a killer pain point in customer experience for online companies. Not with Wordery, they said no return of the book was needed, just a copy of the ISBN page details. What really impressed us was they asked if Leanne could drop the book off at a children’s home or hospital to enjoy.

#3 Mercedes-Benz (James, Senior Customer Experience Consultant)

You may be aware but Mercedes-Benz are one of the best performing customer experience brands in the world. Their CX drives contentment, commitment and contribution from their customers. This example highlights why.

mercedes

https://mercedes.citnow.com/vxxHgsLNh9S link to service video.

James’ took his car in for a service. Most of us worry about what the costs will be and part of the anxiety is created by the ‘behind closed doors’ set-ups of garages. The layout is no different at Mercedes-Benz, but recognising this anxiety and wanting to reaffirm their transparent approach to servicing, they sent a video of the service being conducted through. It’s not a new idea, Pizza Express brought the kitchen experience into the restaurant a few years ago. But it’s still a powerful one which creates confidence in the quality of the service and therefore overall brand trust.

We hope you enjoy these varied examples from our 2016 vaults.

If it floats your boat, our monthly Customer Experience Update contains similar content as well as the latest developments in Customer Experience, successful case studies and interviews with leaders. You can the vanguards in customer experience, and subscribe for free here.

cb2

 

 

 

Lexden delivers effective customer experience solutions for clients serious about sustainable customer relationships.

 

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Can you really coach Customer Experience?

Because I’m totally sure you can.

A recent visit to Bluewater involved buying some new shoes for my wife. On inspecting two different colourways of the said shoes, we inadvertently swapped their designated positions on the wall display. Having worked as Floor Manager between College and University (a good few years ago) in the Nike store in Brighton, I understand that visual merchandising does have a purpose, but what happened next led me to ask the above question.

As we stepped back to review the range again, an employee of the shop then walked over (without asking us if we needed any help may I add) to stand in front of the shoes, and moved the two shoes back to their original positions, while being so far in to our personal space that we had to take a couple of steps back.

No big deal really, but I can think of at least six very simple things that were wrong from a CX perspective within this ten second (non) interaction.

How did it impact our behaviour? We went and got the shoes at a direct competitor.

The thing is though, if I had gone through this with the assistant, I really don’t think he would have for one second understood why any of those six points were a poor experience, and I think his response would have been something like ‘well the shoes have to be in that order…’.

Saving the conversation about customers’ having poor experiences because internal rules and processes for another time, can you really coach Customer Experience to someone this oblivious to what’s best for the customer at any given time?

Satisfied at having a new customer experience to talk about, I began to think back to my time in the Nike sto
re – did my customers have poor experiences under my watch when I was young and single-minded? Well, yes, they did.

I can remember two instances. Firstly, obsessed with my sales figures vs. the 1st floor of the shop, I would routinely send customers upstairs for refunds so my figures weren’t affected. Secondly, I remember closing the changing room to customers once, just so I could get in and out to access mannequins/shelves/fittings etc. to work on merchandising. The area Manager turned up that day, and at the time I scoffed at his disgust that I was making people go upstairs to try on their clothes – of course now practising customer experience I acknowledge how right he was!

So, here I am now able to recognise and improve poor customer journeys – what happened? Was I coached, or did I just learn through osmosis, working in organisations who care about the customer? A mixture, is the answer. Formal coaching has had a place, customer focussed programmes and developing a Customer Experience Centres of Excellence have too, as have particular managers, whom I had great respect for.

The true answer though, if there is one, lies for me in recruitment (and the resulting culture). While my conclusion means that I slipped through the net as someone who didn’t really understand the value of every interaction with the customer at the time.

If your recruitment programme has genuine focus on recruiting staff (consistently and at all levels) who understand that everything they do has a positive or negative emotional impact on the customer at each touchpoint, the organisation itself will begin to take the shape of one that customers want to join, stay with, and talk about positively.

If you run or are involved in a customer experience programme consider how central are Recruitment to that? do they look for people with suitable customer experience tags, or individuals who can talk about emotive and commercial impact in the same sentence? I’d argue the former gives you shoes laid out in the right order, the later a deep understanding of why customer experience matters.

With 89% of companies prioritising customer experience in 2017, attention to all impacting areas on CX success come in to play if you want to drive success. If you’d like to know how to recruit the right customer experience types, contact us and we will let you in on the secret.

Posted by James Edmonds, Senior Consultant, Lexden.

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer Experience’ Update for monthly ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours.  

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What Are The 3 Essentials For Successful Customer Experience?

I should start by qualifying our definition of ‘successful’ customer experience. At Lexden we always focus on success being about customer contentment, commitment and category contribution. The outcome of which leads to an increase in contribution attributable to Customer Experience investment.

So, what drives success in CX (Customer Experience)? According to Professor Dr Phil Klaus’ published studies only 10% of companies optimise the potential returns from their customer experience efforts. The globally renowned customer experience author’s studies also show there are three qualities common to the leaders in CX.

  • #1 Measure What Matters 
  • #2 Customer Culture Conviction
  • #3 Touch-point Management

Here we share our interpretation of these key qualities and the value of prioritising them in your business. If you would like a white paper on any of these areas of effective Customer Experience, please contact us:

#1 Measure What Matters

Too often in customer experience, customer sentiment or intention is mistaken for a measurement of customer commitment. The board sees an NPS (Net Promoter Score) or CSAT  (Customer Satisfaction) score and assumes if the number is going up, the business is performing better.

However, it has been proven there is a very low correlation between these customer scores and the share of the customer category the company has. In fact, less than 1% according to Measuring Customer Performance (Author: Prof Dr P Klaus). The method used; EXQ (Experience Quality Measure) has been refined to assess the impact of customer experience on customer behaviour.

We’ve been involved in several client commissions using EXQ, which like the hundreds of other studies conducted, has highlighted the customer experiences which really matter most to customers and the actual share of category that converts into (which is what the board often think they are getting with the conventional CX measures).

exq-explanation

It’s powerful stuff. A recent commission we conducted highlighted EXQ was 50 times more predictive than NPS in identifying the attributes which matter most to customers. Which provides a much more robust basis for CX budget discussions!

The CX leaders are tracking indicators which align customer performance to profitability AND tell you where to prioritise investment – that’s measuring what matters.

#2 Customer Culture Conviction

‘Putting customers at the heart of business decisions’ is a sentiment we’ve stuck by and one we believe helps embed prioritising customer outcomes in the very fabric of an organisation.

However, we find the interpretation of ‘customer’ and how to incorporate customer experience in the organisation varies wildly. Most have a commitment to customer, but few have worked out what a customer really want as an outcome, and less than being able to fuse that with the differentiation their brand positioning can fulfil.

We also find that customer experience is often pushed to front line staff, those engaging with customers. However, for a culture of customer commitment to become a natural state, every colleague in the organisation needs to incorporate delivering customer outcomes in their day-to-day activities. It’s as much the responsibility of the Head of Finance or Audit as it is the Contact Centre Manager or Store Manager.

It should also not be driven by brand, but must incorporate the brand. Brand agencies grab CX budget for extraordinary demonstrations of branded customer experience, but it’s the day-to-day experiences which will be remembered and influence decision-making. Ads should demonstrate the valued CX, but not try to be the CX.

To create a culture of customer commitment in the organisation you need:

  • Common place behaviours
  • Consistent delivery
  • Customer outcome driven thinking
  • Customisation to affirm brand advantage

brand-platformTo achieve this, we employ our Brand Experience Platform and Branded Customer Standards to ensure customer experience is delivered by all, consistently to fulfil customer outcomes in a way that emphasis the advantage of the brand.

With the platform established, training and socialising customer experience principles is straightforward. Which means translation and adoption happens.

#3 (Outsourced) Touch-point management

We have plenty of experience in customer journey mapping for clients. The value of these working documents is that they unearth excellence and shortfalls in CX. If equipped with the right tools (such as Customer Standards or EXQ Customer Attributes) the business can set about improvements.

That said, mapping is a very useful activity to identify what is and isn’t managed ‘on us’. What about those activities which are with third parties to complete?  This recent example highlights the point well. A client noticed despite a high satisfaction rating on their VoC (Voice of the Customer) touch-points, client attrition was high so engaged Lexden to investigate.

We conducted a couple of days’ of exploratory journey mapping across several country regions. By doing so we identified the most important touch-points and then realised some had been outsourced to a third-party administer some time ago. It wasn’t clear why it had been set up this way, but it hadn’t been recognised as valuable to the overall customer experience before.

touchpoint

It was now managed through a procurement relationship where the annual emphasis was on reducing supplier costs by 10%. The squeeze was put on the supplier who had no relationship with the client (so used Google to better understand their company) and the impaired experience was leading to defection. But because there was no VoC set up against this outsourced touch-point it didn’t show on the feedback reports.

When you assess how much of a brand’s total ‘experience’ is outsourced, it can add up to an alarming amount. In the airline sector for some carriers more than 50% of customer interactions are outsourced; from website booking, ticketing, check-in, baggage handling and customer service. But whilst the customer perceives it’s the airline’s responsibility they will blame them when these touch-points fail.

Outsourcing can lead to irrecoverable customer dissatisfaction. Use Customer Journey Techniques to evaluate the efficiency v effectiveness of outsourcing.

We hope you can take these priorities back to your own programmes and review their effectiveness. If you’d be interested to head more or need either quick-fix or strategic support, we can help.

At Lexden, we’ve developed programmes to manage the most impacting drivers of customer experience success. Overviews on EXQ, Brand Experience Platform and Effective Touch-point Management are available on request; christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com.

cb2

 

 

 

Lexden delivers effective customer experience solutions for clients serious about sustainable customer relationships.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer Experience’ Update for monthly ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

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Outsourcing – the grass is always greener…isn’t it!?

Most of us, at one time or another in our corporate lives, will have been involved in a meeting or project where outsourcing to an external provider works its way to the fore, and becomes the desired option for the business, and for all the right reasons (you convince yourself).

Such a seductive idea – ‘we can rationalise FTE’, ‘we can make efficiency gains’, ‘we can reduce bad demand’ – after all, ‘they’re the experts at this stuff!’. The most tempting of the potential upsides though, will always remain cost.

Don’t get me wrong, in the right circumstances, for the right reasons, and executed in the right way, outsourcing is a hugely effective option, and can deliver great benefits.

  1. The first benefit is flexibility; the insurer who can lean on an outsourcer through a weather event to increase their capacity is an insurer who will save money, and be able to offer assistance to customers in their hour of need.
  2. The second is speed; the bank who wants to move in to a new international market can do it a lot quicker by situating themselves in the interim with an outsourcer with local market access and erudition, already set up with access to and knowledge of how to use their systems.
  3. The third (and most alluring) is cost; the aforementioned bank and insurer are able to start up their new operations with very little cost compared to a totally new call centre based in the UK or abroad – a positive nod from the board would surely ensue.

Adding flexibility and speed to a business while reducing cost makes for a fantastic set of KPI’s, but this won’t happen if a focus on quality is lost – this is where Lexden come in as CX consultants. We ensure the customer experience isn’t impacted. We cover a broad church in CX, but cost rationalisation can kick-start freeing budget to fuel the CX programme. Our studies show over 50% of CX investment has little to no impact on customer commitment.

In May 2013, O2 extended its existing contract and outsourced all of its customer facing operation to Capita (yes, all), with the aim of saving a billion (yes, a billion) pounds over the next ten (yes, ten) years. This was a huge strategic move from O2 – they had lost direct contact with their customers, had committed to the board and shareholders to save £1bn, and were committed to one partner for ten long years in an environment of constant, accelerating change alongside ever expanding customer expectations.

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Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?

Well, three years on it hasn’t gone too badly. In 2015, the partnership won three major industry awards dished out by the National Outsourcing Association: the Telecommunications, Utilities and High-Tech Outsourcing Project of the Year, BPO Contract of the Year and the CCA Excellence Award for Best Outsourcing Partnership. While not quite running at the £1bn run-rate, efficiency savings are being made, along with improved incident resolution speeds for O2 customers.

The positives aside, I can’t help but think about the lost opportunity cost of not having O2 culturally ingratiated staff, living and breathing the brand, cross selling and upselling to deliver the best results for the company they are a part of is unknown – we will save that for another day though.

We at Lexden interacted with two major outsourcers when researching a new UK call centre for one of our clients, who wanted to rationalise their customer service offering, to realise synergies in both sites and roles. An interim move to a call centre elsewhere in the UK, while they found their feet and set themselves up in the area for the long term was a very appealing option to them.

Having Programme Managed similar projects in the past, it sounded to me like the kind of project that any outsourcer would bite our hands off for, but the difference in appetite was simply stunning. I’ll get to the punch line later, but a very helpful member of staff from one organisation acted quickly upon my email inquiry.

Within a few hours, I was on a conference call with her, and two of her colleagues, so they could understand my requirements (an understanding of their bespoke offering, some case studies, and an analysis of the best place to establish a call centre in the UK). Both were delivered in the next few days, and we were able to confidently go back to our clients and present them tangible tactical and strategic options.

As a result, whether it’s on this project or the next, we now have a healthy relationship with them, and would have no hesitation to recommend their services to our clients going forwards.

3

The next outsourcer however beggared belief. An off day maybe, but I emailed them, and didn’t hear back. I then rang them three times, on the number on their website, at 9.06, 9.23 and 9.45, and on all three occasions they failed to answer the phone, and didn’t get back to me when I left a message on their answerphone.

The one thing I would have expected them to be able to do would be respond to a customer over the phone or on email!

To be able to value something you need to experience it first. On this encounter, it’s fallen short. While my experience may not consistent with the standards they set, it has left an impression. These human interactions along with the business capability score-card is what we will use to assess suitability at this stage.

As independents, at the outset we have no allegiance to any vendor. But the experience delivered through engagements which lead to appointment are critical contributors leading to preference.

Posted by James Edmonds, Senior Consultant, Lexden

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer Experience’ Update for monthly ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

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What is your favourite Christmas Ad of 2016?

The Christmas season is in full swing now all the major brands have served us their 2016 Christmas ad specials.

According to the Mirror and the Metro’s reader polls, Sainsbury’s ‘Mog’ appealed more than any other ad last year. But which will be your favourite be this year?

Vote below and see how your views compare with others. Another mince pie anyone?

2016

 

Enjoy the vote. Enjoy the ads. Enjoy Christmas 2016.

And then bring on 2017, when we expect to see an even greater ROI expectation from your Customer Experience endeavours.

If you need support in any area of CX in 2017, please get in contact.

We will listen to your challenge, explain how we’ve helped others and share how we will be able to help you as we have done so for clients such as The Co-operative Bank, Visa, UCL, Syngenta and Ladbrokes in 2016.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Christopher Brooks | Lexden Customer Experience Consultants | The Courtyard | Wind Hill | Bishops Stortford | Herts | CM23 2ND | 01279 902205

 

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Advertising. Is it worth the paper it’s printed on anymore?

Last week I travelled on the tube and was confronted in the same carriage with three soulless executions advertising Apps.

Having been a brand and comms planner in an agency I know the client brief can sometimes be slightly thin on the ground. However, that’s when the opportunity lies to test your strength in teasing out the killer insight that will connect the brand and its differentiated offer with what yearns to be fulfilled in its chosen audience.

Having also worked with some great creatives I know that even when that insight appears quite generic or stretched, it’s still possible to light a touch-paper of excitement in the audience by resonating with them through common ground of interest through brilliant creative.

So why is that much of the App service advertising I see fails to shine? Apps are the new ‘must visit’ retailer, the new ‘must have’ manufactured product, the new ‘must experience’ destination. Having transcended to Customer Experience Consultancy to embed brand across engagement touch points, I enviously look at these little pockets of technological potential and think wow; what an opportunity. If I was 15 years younger and these NewCo briefs were landing on my planning desk I’d feel like I bagged the John Lewis Christmas campaign brief! So why is it the communications out there promoting modern Apps often seems to be amongst the least engaging?

Getting back to the examples presented to me on the tube, they’d managed to underline this mediocrity by sharing the same execution technique; ‘the play on words’ to attempt to promote their distinction and usefulness – I say ‘attempt’ because their value as brand were lost on me.

When apps were still in napp(ie)s I can recall a conversation with a creative team who suggested to turn to ‘play on words’ as a communication solution was only acceptable when every other method including applying the mirror of self-reflection and handing your notice in had been tried.

So have my troublesome three simply slipped through the ‘take pride in what you deliver’ creative sign-off process, or are they really the result of something much better that I’m just missing? For me, they brilliantly demonstrate a lack of connection with their audience, no promise to fulfil unmet needs or differentiate from others in achieving this. In fact, the energy burnt out before the message does.

pun ad 2I recognise the ‘Just Eat’ campaign which lives on TV too and is made up of only play on words of songs (not that I have worked out this one yet). I feel it begs the question, ‘what are you’. I quite like the ‘chicken madras’ reference and razzmatazz on TV, but I quite like the new series of Robot Wars as well – it’s not enough. I know Just Eat is a take away service, I’ve seen decals everywhere, but that’s it. I don’t get any sense of advantage conveyed through these messages, hence I’ve failed to even consider them when ordering take away.

pun ad 3I can’t quite work out from my pic this company or what they are promoting – never good for mass media ad space. But to choose the word ‘App’ in their play on words execution means I am left guessing it’s either something to do with checkered shirts, or one of the other tens of thousand Apps providing some form of retail or travel advantage. Either way it’s too late, my attention is diverted to another ad.

The third example does actually manage to tie the play on words in to the proposition regarding saving time choosing what to cook. I say that, the words scan at least. That said the Lionel Richie song has no relationship with this proposition of saving time, so it’s 100% superficial.

pun ad 1

I start to think that a bit like the explosion of soft toys give away from all comparison site following the success of Sergei and Compare the Meerkat, do we have another spate of ‘copycat’ Just Eat executions here?

The interesting thing each one of those ads has had hours poured into it to devise an idea, talent applied to produce it, consideration and agreement to approve it, not to mention a slice of some investor’s commitment or chunk from the company profit put behind it to get it on the tube wall.

Ipun ad 4f you are thinking you quite like play on word ads, then I accept there are some great examples such as FCUK. There is also this stunning example, crafted without the benefit of a comms agency shows how to connect with your audience as well as fulfil unmet needs (beyond the repair).

As App companies grow up the will see the need to connect with customers, to retain their attention they will need to promise betterment in a meaningful way their audience can process and deliver an experience which is valued to retain them.

If they are struggling with comms, how will they fare when it comes to customer experience. It could prove the graveyard for App services unless they start to promote something their customers can connect with of value, best served through meaningful content.

Take a look around the walls adorned with ads next time you have a few moments. Search out the ads promoting Apps. If you find one which you think connects with its audience in a meaningful, motivating and differentiating way please send it to me to restore my faith. Or if you find a play on words ad which isn’t ‘bottom of the barrel’ material again email me.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com 

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

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Storytelling, stopwatches and suspense – a judge’s eye view of the UK Financial Services Experience Awards 2016

Working with Lexden I was delighted to be a judge at the awards especially as I recalled we’d partnered the inaugural event last year. I have been on the finalists’ side of the fence a few times, but it was my first time as a judge.

If you get offered an opportunity to judge in future years, take it – I found it a thoroughly educational and enjoyable day all round. I met some wonderful people with inspiring stories.

it’s the award to win if you excel at FS CX

The awards are broken down into around 20 categories. Each category has its own judging panel – usually four or five people.  Before the main event, we review written entries and complete a first round of scoring. The final round takes place on awards day itself.

fs cx awards

The Awards day started really well – a sparkling-blue-sky, and a train which got me from A to B on time.  Which is certainly out of the ordinary. During the journey I wondered what it must be like to deal with a hotel full of customer experience specialists. I expect we can be rather demanding customers.

When I arrived at the venue, Lisa Bailey and her team whisked me off for a judges briefing.  I knew I would be chairing the panel for my category – Best Use of Technology – so I was extra keen to have everything work smoothly for our five teams of finalists.

I was given a timetable setting out which order the finalists would present in, a set of scoring sheets, and a stopwatch. With up to five finalists presenting in each category, the event is a logistical marathon.  So timings are planned with military precision.

The panel set themselves up in a room, and the finalists appear in turn to make their pitch, and do a question and answer session, then leave the room so the judges can score the entries and note down their comments. After each presentation scoring sheets are placed in an envelope and collected by a member of the Awards team.  The scores are totted up, ready for the awards ceremony and dinner later that afternoon.

Our superb six were; – Welcome Real Time, Carfinance 247, Provident Home Credit,                  G2A.COM Limited, Standard Life plc and LV= Retirement Wizard

After the judging stage was complete, we enjoyed a quick glass of fizz and a chance to meet people and share stories.  Then it was time for lunch and the awards themselves.  The trophy giving took about three hours, so there was a lot of nail biting for the finalists before they were fully able to relax and let their hair down.

And the award goes to…

While the entries in our category were very different, all of them told a compelling story about how they had made life easier for customers, and improved business performance.  Many of them also talked about an influential leader who had got behind them and shouted them on from the sidelines.

A worthy silver went to Carfinance 247. But for the winning team – Standard Life – success was about people as much as technology. The careful selection of team members with the right balance of technical and people skills.  The quest to build bridges between functions and suppliers.  And you could see it right there in the room as they were presenting – determination, unity, and an amazing team chemistry.

We’ve all been there, in the thick of a complex project with heartburn-inducing deadlines.  But managing budgets and sprints is only part of the job.  Thank you Standard Life for reminding me that it’s people who sustain organisations and create change.

The Standard Life team collecting their award on the day.

standard lifeSee more on the event at: http://f-x-a.co.uk/meet-our-judges/#sthash.VBMuCgvI.dpuf.

Posted by Beth, Associate Consultant with Lexden Group.

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

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There’s always a better way with CX

signs 2Inspiration for CX improvements are all around you. Which is why CX practitioners, like creatives before them should carry a little black book and camera for idea collection everywhere they go.

I was in Italy earlier this week with Dr Prof Phil Klaus working through some customer performance measurement analysis for a retail client bank. Whilst travelling I came across this alternative to the abrupt ‘Drop & Go’ signs I’ve seen at UK airports. It reminded me that if you take a step back from the functional purpose of the activity, there is often a more engaging way to communicate it.

IMG_6966On another trip a couple of weeks ago I was grateful for this application of signage. Rather than buried amongst the transfer, bag collection etc signage the ‘how to get out here’ directional signage was very evident and allowed me to get out of Copenhagen airport, which I didn’t know, faster than those I am more familiar with.

citizen mBut my out and out favourite brand for putting more effort into the message and by doing so always putting a smile on my face too, is Citizen M. I’ve only ever stayed at the Citizen M hotel in Glasgow hotel. But whenever I’ve stayed in Glasgow I’ve only ever stayed at Citizen M.

Every standard and specific message visible at Citizen M has been well thought through and crafted to convey the spirit of the brand. Door signage, soaps, menus – you name it. Even the door mat. I can imagine the brand/marketing/design/CX/Facilities (I’m sure they are well integrated) team sitting down and saying, ‘there has to be more we can get out of the door mats’ and then arriving at this ‘concierge flattery style’ approach.

Looking at those underutilised spaces in retail, on livery, on the website or across communications present wonderful low cost opportunities to reinforce the personality of the brand or draw attention to experiences that have been developed to increase customer contentment. Fun without connection to the business and it’s intention is frivolous, but alignment is powerful stuff.

It’s also delivers a quick win way to evidence of CX improvements if you need to demonstrate to colleagues, customers or the CEO that things are happening.

We call it SIBI (small ideas = BIG IMPACT). If you would like to know how we can identify Experience Design SIBI’s for your brand, we’d love to hear from you.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

Lexden helps deliver Customer Experience Strategy and Programme Management for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 orT: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebookor Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

 

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An interview with Head of Customer Strategy & Insight, Stephen Plimmer, Kent Reliance

Stephen Plimmer

In a continuation of Lexden’s series of interviews with Customer Experience leaders, MD Christopher Brooks caught up with Kent Reliance’s Head of Customer Strategy & Insight, Stephen Plimmer to better understand the role of CX in the business.

Christopher Brooks (CB): OneSavings Bank was the toast of the FS Sector at this year’s Financial Services Forum’s Marketing Effectiveness awards, collecting the Best Customer Experience Award, among other accolades. Does the recognition come as a surprise or is this something you’ve been working towards for some time?

Stephen Plimmer (SP): For us, this was never a completely new way of thinking. The Marketing function always understood how important customer loyalty and experience was. But as a function, knowing that isn’t enough. The whole organisation has to be on-board and understand it and that’s what we’ve been working on over the last few years.

We’re lucky in that we have fantastic customer facing staff, both in branches and over in our call team. How we improved our customer service was a key part of our Customer Experience story and the recognition is all to do with their dedication and enthusiasm. Customer Service is such a key part of the overall customer experience.

Our call team always wanted to deliver exceptional service, to go beyond expectation and to embrace Customer Experience Management. Listening to customer feedback helped empower them to do so.

CB: Would it be fair to say OneSavings Bank is a relatively new brand for consumers? With a very busy banking services market well established and a host of distinctive new entrants arriving, what is OneSavings Bank bringing that others have failed to do?

SP: OneSavings Bank trades as Kent Reliance, a brand with over 150 years of heritage. When we started out on the Customer Experience programme we needed to know how important that brand name was to people and what it meant. We conducted several focus groups and surveys and aside from spitfires and the White Cliffs of Dover (something people always associate with the country) the recurring themes were around words like traditional, heritage and trusted.

There was a clear affection for the brand and of course at the time, most high street banking brands were considered quite the opposite. We discovered that many customers wanted a brand they felt they could trust, a need for those values. We just needed to make sure we understood and lived up to them. It was from this research we were able to start planning our Customer Experience programme – by setting clear objectives.

CB: Does a digital age increase the challenge for FS brands to deliver a great customer experience, or can it improve things?

It’s a fast evolving sector, mobile technology, greater expectations over speed of transacting; instant gratification and confidence in security are some of our greatest challenges. It is an incredibly competitive market now, with lots of new entrants. It’s about understanding your customer’s requirements and, if you can, staying one step ahead of that. I think that can only improve things but we’re not losing sight of the fact that not all our customers need great customer service delivered only online. Many expect the same level of service in branch and over the phone. It’s about delivering that consistency of service across all channels.

CB: ICS (Institute Customer Satisfaction) figures show that customer satisfaction has dropped despite more firms investing in it, so do you think this is a reflection of customer expectations increasing, a focus on the wrong things by companies or is there something else to consider here?

SP: I think expectation levels have certainly played a part. I also think that although Customer Service is an incredibly important part of delivering a great customer experience, I think many people still think customer service and customer experience are the same thing.

Customer Experience is in fact the sum of the whole, customer service playing an important part in that, but it is also about brand perception, relationship building, understanding your customers – what they like and dislike. It’s about delivering the brand qualities consistency across all channels and during the entire customer life cycle.

CB: Collecting the FSF’s Awards for CX demonstrates it’s a key priority of your overall proposition, how important overall would you say it is for OSB?

SP: It’s very important. We continuously engage with our customers and measure experience at every touchpoint. For Kent Reliance this has enabled a business transformation rather than a marketing function revolution. The crucial part was getting all customer facing functions on-board, otherwise you are just producing metrics. Unless all customer facing functions, and ultimately the business strategy units understand what customers were telling us, then key indicators are pointless.

CB: With trust from consumers being typically low in FS, do you think delivering great CX in financial services has its unique challenges other sectors do not face?

SP: There are so many alternatives in the FS sector now that product differentials and relying on customer inertia (as some probably still do) is no longer going to cut it. You need to be easy to deal with and you need to understand just how your customers want to deal with you. Gaining that understanding and then secondly delivering it is key.

CB: Do you think CX is a viable approach to demonstrate and deliver a more trusted brand to consumers?

SP: Trust was one of the key words associated with our brand and one of the traits we are naturally always working hard to retain. Our Customer Experience programme looks at these brand traits and makes sure we keep coming back to them in all we do.

CB: Can you provide an outline on your winning entry and why you think the judges saw merit in your submission beating retail giants RBS and Santander among others?

SP: The entry was around how we had engaged with our customer base, understanding their perceptions of us and what was important to them. This knowledge then prioritised operational change projects and channel development.

When the guest speaker joked at the start of the evening about a poor experience he once had was probably because the hotel group in question had put an accountant in charge of customer experience – the joke wasn’t lost on my colleagues around the table. But actually, my management accounting background has proved incredibly helpful when it comes to Customer Experience programme. From the very start I wanted to track and prove the impact the programme was having. And I think it was that evidence and the clear targets we set ourselves that made the difference.

CB: What would you say has been the key milestones or step changes at OSB in bringing customers more to the forefront of business decision making?

SP: Understanding what our brand meant to customers – existing and potential new ones. From that setting clear objectives to make sure the actual experience was consistent with what our customers wanted.

We gathered an in depth understanding of our customer base, from which we could segment and better understand their needs and how they wanted to transact with us.

We worked with a third party survey provider which allowed us to automate and expand surveying, also providing us with alert functions to be able to gather feedback across all channels and touchpoints – some in real time.

CB: Your CEO, Andy Golding has been associated with some more innovative Customer-led financial services companies in recent times. How important is it to have a CEO who backs the customer too?

SP: Within Andy’s first week here he wanted to sit down with key internal stakeholders and understand what our customers were saying about us; what they liked and disliked and how they rated each channel. Since then, customer feedback has helped prioritise all operational changes – what the operational managers needed to change or improve. He receives detailed customer MI, not just metrics but verbatim – what his customers are actually saying about the business.

We needed the whole business on-board if our customer experience programme was to be a success and having a CEO who feels passionately about delivering great customer service naturally helps convince people.

CB: What would you say is your proudest moment so far at OSB?

SP: There are many projects and initiatives that we’ve been a part of, but I would say the work we did with one of the call teams stands out.

New regulations across the mortgage market led to the call team struggling to answer even the simplest of customer queries; this led to poor CX metric scores and customer frustration. Working with various teams from across the business we were able to provide the call team members with training and simple to follow guides for dealing with customer calls. From call monitoring and understanding the issues customers were facing, we were able to improve the call team’s score dramatically; literally overnight. The call team were able to deliver a far better service which made them more confident which in turn we could see made a very positive impression on our customers.

The team are still improving and learning. It was a fantastic ‘quick win’ which really got them engaged with the customer experience programme.

CB: So the journey has started, what’s next for OSB and what can we expect to see you doing to wow your customers?

SP: More employee engagement, we are redefining our desired employee behaviours and making sure they are aligned to the brand image.

We are also increasing the research programmes, competitor analysis and using NPS from a more strategic perspective.

CB: Who do you admire most in terms of CX – either FS or beyond, and why?

SP: Some of the names here will probably be of no surprise, but in my experience it’s Amazon and John Lewis. Amazon make it easy to transact with and in terms of the whole business brand experience it’s John Lewis. For me, it’s the whole end to end process and in particular post sales. I’m confident that even if there was a problem post sale – it would get resolved. It’s about staff delivering the brand and ease of transaction.

CB: We are talking customer experience; can you give me a personal example of brilliant customer experience from any part of your life, not just financial services, you can recall you really liked and remember?

SP: I always struggle to recall a brilliant experience; like many consumers I can usually recall bad ones very easily. A certain laptop/tablet manufacturer springs to mind.

CB: So getting it right for customers clearly matters to you at OSB. How do you keep track of what matters most to customers? Are these enduring or changing needs?

SP: As we’ve said, this is a fast moving sector with lots of new entrants. For us, it was always more about the verbatim, monitoring shifts in verbal feedback patterns to know first what our customers wanted, liked or disliked and then from acting on that how that changed customer sentiment. Not just a score. A score is just a way of tracking, but it doesn’t tell you why it is what it is and how to change it.

We have also recently launched an online focus group. A panel of customers that we can engage with on specific topics. This allows us to research a new product concept or test new literature to make sure we are getting it right.

We also produce detailed journey maps, into which we put customer sentiment, scores measured at various touch points and data from the complaints team. We then use these maps when looking at key journeys with operational managers so that we can see how we can improve things – see what the pain points are for customers and how we can make these better. Sometimes this is as simple as making a letter clearer but then sometimes the whole process is re-engineered.

CB: Finally, there are many firms just waking up to CX (customer experience). What wisdom would you give anyone starting out on their venture?

SP: Have clear objectives by gaining a deep understanding of current perception of your brand and how this compares to where you want to position it. Let the voice of the customer prioritise change and get buy-in from the highest level.

Also, demonstrate some quick wins, if there is mistrust of CX Strategy then demonstrating how effective it can be helps change perceptions. This doesn’t have to be a profit measure or a traditional CX metric, but more helpful is when you can evidence that you have reduced call wait times or complaints about a specific process – these are real impacts for both customers and staff.

Finally, make sure you take everyone on the journey with you – staff and customers.

Many thanks to Stephen and we wish him and Kent Reliance continued success.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, MD, Lexden, Independent Customer Experience Consultants.

Before we start, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there is no silver bullet or magic CX pill which will transform a business overnight from having a poor customer experience to a great one. And if there was, it’s the customers who will be the judge of the shift rather than the company. And our memories last longer than a ‘customer transformation programme’ does.

I’ve witnessed, less informed, but more globally located management consultancies inform CEO’s they can go from bottom to top of their sectors CX charts in just 3 months (which was then extended to an equally unrealistic 2 years). Well those years passed and whilst the management consultancy earned a seven figure fee, the CEO lost his position and that business is still rooted at the foot of those same CX charts!

So the formula, whilst not magic, is one I pass on to all; CEO’s, CX Directors, PhD students through to owner friends of small businesses:

Infinity LoopThey are interdependent and continuous. Beyond this I would question the value of any investment.

Knowing what ‘matters’ and defining the ‘meaningful difference’ are the first steps. Once understood and valued, the scale of what can be done and the return it delivers can be assessed.

The outcome of which must be measured in business performance rather than inferred intentions such as NPS. Also the brand differentiating standards of delivery must be consistent across all areas of the business and effect behavioural change others can’t emulate. Customer experience has to work hard, and brand (often an ever hungry cash requestor built on a model of fear of not spending) can be wholly accountable.

Some pursue this path by building a differentiation using strengths to exploit a shortfall in the sector (take the fixers at Direct Line), For others it is about delivering experience when it matters most to customers in a very brand centric way (which others will struggle to emulate).

Either way, they are not tradable – deliver both AND if you want to have the CFO’s support, ensure all endeavours are measured against something meaningful than a customers inferred intention to tell someone else about your brand, make sure it’s pegged to behavioural change resulting in increased share of category spend (take a look at EXQ). One approach will keep the interest of your CFO, the former will highlight gaps and can be the start of the end of CX for some companies.

It’s a fascinating area of business, and one which Lexden are delighted to support clients effectively. To find out how to apply this approach to your business contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com. Alternatively, take the formula and pursued effectively, you will succeed on your own.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Lexden CEO

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Applying small Customer Experience improvements to your business to make a BIG impact

Driving a positive behavioural change in customers is the surest way to increase their sustainable contentment and commitment to your business. We’ve seen this achieved when programmes focus on what really matters most to the customers and the business delivers best.

Of course setting the companies CX compass correctly means understanding that Customer Performance measures will mean for the business. For instance, no CFO worth their Masters degree in Economics is going to thank you for delivering a sparkly green looking dashboard showing industry leading promoter scores or top box customer satisfaction if they don’t correlate with profitability.

CEO’s are waking up to (or more often walking into) this reality in their business. If this sounds familiar, then efforts should be diverted to improving the customer performance measures to reflect efforts on CX which drive business profitability. In a study by Prof. Dr Phil Klaus, amongst companies who drive 600% ROI from their CX programmes, effective CX measurement was the No.1 contributing factor for success.

If you’d like to know more on this contact Christopher Brooks and reference 600% ROI.

If you are chartering the correct course, then it’s worth remembering that results from CX take time. So keeping stakeholders’ engagement and belief in CX is key. To do this we recommend small ideas which deliver a big impact (siBI).

I was speaking to a regular on the CX speaker circuit recently who said, ‘We do this all the time. We are always fixing stuff so it works for customers’. Beware, there is a clear distinction between improvements which reaffirm consumer’s choice of a brand versus ‘fixing stuff that was broken’. Not all realise this. However, ROI on ‘operational’ style fixes typically delivers only 125%; 4 times less effective than the vanguards achieve with branded experience.

nationwide2Here are 3 examples of small ideas which I feel demonstrate, in a small way, what the brand is trying to stand for through an enhanced experience.

Nationwide, a more considerate and caring building society takes the opportunity to ensure there is no mess left in the community from its cash machines.

It’s something all could do, but those who don’t have it in their DNA don’t.

I counted 4 other banks on our high street without this simple experience set up.

travellodge2Travelogical is the message from Travel Lodge. And this is a simple demonstration of logic. A basket of basic supplies which if you are so inclined you can take.

This not only reduces the effort and cost of staff dealing with customers requesting tea bags and sugar sachets, but it makes the budget hotel chain appear more generous than those perceived more premium.

Disneyland Paris in comparison provide a tea bag and coffee sachet per customer, per stay.

whopper2Finally, I saw this on a Burger King wrapper at Barcelona airport. Fast food chains have worked hard to demonstrate authentic and natural ingredients. What better way of stating it than on the wrapper from which is eaten. But actually stating it could backfire and have customers thinking why say it if you’ve got nothing to hide? So by making it part of the ‘what ingredients are in excluded from the order’, it allows the selection of natural ingredients which go in to make up the burger meal laid bare without stating them. Smart, simple and small.

They all share the ‘small’ in terms of investment as well as the ‘BIG’ in terms of demonstration of brand values. It’s that simple. Whilst they won’t achieve, ‘jump off the page’ unprompted positive verbatim they can be shared around the business as examples of quick, brand reaffirming experiences delivered for relatively little. Small ideas delivering Big Improvements.

Lexden helps deliver Customer Experience Strategy and Management for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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Money Transfers should be easy right?

You might think there is nothing more commoditised than transferring money internationally.

It’s as easy as 1) You want to send money 2) You send it 3) It’s received.

However, what seems like a very simple transaction is anything but, leading to opportunities for specialist providers to grab share from the retail banks. What many of these specialists are very good at is the technicalities behind a complicated transaction, but less experienced or set up to deal with the emotional anxiety associated with sending large amounts of money overseas for the customers’ involved.

One appeared to be different. They recognised the need to be empathetic with customers and using the ‘CXStart’ approach, embarked upon a transformation programme to deliver an enhanced customer experience.

However, embarking on any CX programme is as much about stakeholder management as it is the improved experience deliverables or incremental profit which follows. Whilst by now almost all multi-national corporates see ‘putting customers first’ as standard, it’s fair to say for SMEs’, including the larger ‘M’’s it’s still met with glazed expressions and often feelings of “Our brand is strong, our customers buy from us, we are doing well, therefore why do we need to rethink customer?” Adding an external independent adviser (Colette Porter, that’s me), regardless of capability of relevant expertise, to the mix and it’s obvious that winning over the client team early is extremely important.

Our evidence suggests, the more silos, the greater the resistance. But interestingly it’s here you often get the greatest gains too.

What did we achieve?

  • Over 200 Customer Touchpoints identified
  • 50 journey maps in four days, every touchpoint process blueprinted in minute detail through every department and every system.
  • We gained invaluable insight and some crucial feedback from existing customers via the survey that, together with the journey mapping, enabled us to provide a comprehensible report.
  • A strategic collaboration of over 100 recommendations put together for improvement areas.

What were the top 5 key findings and recommendations from this?

Rates and Charges

The rates and charges were sited as the main reason customers would not recommend or continue to use their service. Out of 70% of Customers who reported no service issues, 82% of these stated the rates and charges as a reason as to why they would discontinue using their service. Comments received ranged from exchange rates not being updated quickly enough to charges and taxes being too high compared to their competitors.

Website

The website could be more user friendly. Too much scrolling, helpful info hidden, not enough relevance and too many clicks were key issues.

Referral System

Reassuringly, results from the survey emphasised how much the existing customer base loved their proposition. A huge 39% of the existing customer base cite “word of mouth” as their way of finding out about the company.

It proved this was a very effective marketing strategy, not that it was deliberate. A good referral system would negate the need for regular promo codes thus maintaining loyalty and growing their customer base.

Customer Service

Their Customer Service dept didn’t favour well with contact problems, of those that had issues 2% complained of not being able to get through to anyone, others were not called back when promised and their response times and often replies to emails did not reflect the problems raised. Customer Services was cited as an improvement area.

Focus on recruiting the right type of people and training to engage and empower employees to take ownership of issues and build an emotional connection with customers whilst on calls is important.

In addition clear, concise and engaging communications would help spark the right connection with customers.

Communications

All automated communications needed to be re-written and personalised with a common appropriate tone of voice needed across verbal and written comms. This was sporadically deployed with the“Welcome” email being a great example of what to do and other subsequent pieces leaving customers seeing a huge inconsistency.

How do we do it?

Listen to the business. Listen to the customer

We started with the feedback survey, (every customer is different so this is reflected in tailored surveys) which will give a good snapshot of what current customers think; how satisfied they are with the service they receive and more importantly how likely are they to return.

Whilst we wait on the results we delve deep into the workshops. Inviting a mixture of crucial employees for these workshops, we start from awareness (How a potential customer could become aware of your service) and work through into information search and so on through the other elements “through the customer’s eyes”.

This workshop may include pre-sales, sales, customer service, marketing, web team, tech team and any other dept that has a customer touch-point for potential customers trying to gather more information about the service or organisation.

Understanding the journeys that customers could take for every request and decision they could make is crucial to mapping each process, in detail. How does that thought pattern or request pass through different teams or different software? How is that impacted in potential customers finding exactly what they want in a time that suits them or what they perceive is acceptable?

Once the workshops are complete and the survey results in analyse what we’ve been told by customers and compare it to what employees believe are the strengths and issues in the customer journey.

CX Start Programme Slide

We return after 3, 6, and 12 months to assess progress and provide support to ensure you can realise your potential from CX.

It’s an enjoyable process which in a relatively short space of time will help any medium sized business sharpen up their potential to profit from customer experience.

We help clients build memorable customer experiences and create engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

 

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3 in 1 Brand Experience – Lego Hotel

Few brands own a shape as well as Lego. The coloured brick has become synonymous with Lego, and vice versa. I have been familiar with its association with play, from my own childhood through to the present where we have a healthy deposit in the children’s toy room, plus it often makes an entry during customer journey mapping and value proposition workshops for Lexden. So I was intrigued to see how it transferred to a hotel and whether it could achieve the highest of all accolades (tee-hee); Lexden’s 3 examples of a branded experience within 1 minute of engaging with the brand.

Previous achievers include Virgin Trains, Waitrose and Imaginarium (click link for these), so the bar for entry is set high. But having visited the Lego Hotel at Legoland Windsor for a corporate event a few months ago, I am delighted to say it passed with flying colours.

Lego LandHere’s the branded experience I encountered when arriving. So with the stop watch ready to start, I got out of the car and headed towards the hotel following a 90 minute drive. On walking to the hotel from the car park, the frustration of the slow motorway journey and countless hold ups were quickly forgotten when I saw the playfulness immediately in evidence in the exterior of the hotel with the smoke being delivered courtesy of a giant green dragon (of course)!

The colours and shapes screamed Lego – so I knew I’d arrived. I passed under the arch with the dragon bearing down on me and I entered the hotel.

The reception is typically Lego with characters littered around the families with young children ready for a day at the theme park and a flooring of carpet imprinted with the iconic shape meaning Lego comes at you from the walls and floor alike. Lego Land ManBut out of the corner of my eye I noticed a gentleman on his own reading a paper – not the best environment for such a pastime I initially thought. Until I realise it’s another fun branded gesture from Lego; a lifelike life size guest.

Okay so I wasn’t fooled that easily, but it was a striking image sensibly situated at the entrance of the conference facilities.

It was at this point I realised it had been a long time on the road and with a day’s conference speaking ahead of me, I decided to pop in and use the ‘facilities’ before the day’s events began. Of course the Lego theme was carried through here, with Lego characters on the gents, ladies and toddlers loo door signs and oversized pieces as urinals (I’ve spared you the picture). Equally fun were the prints on the doors on the loos inside. They take what is always a very dull space and depict a Lego escapism scene. Lego Land02

A most amusing piece of branding and the only hotel in the world where it would work! Oops – there’s that urinal too in shot.

Welcome to our league on 3 in 1 CX Lego Hotel. Look out for the next article to see if you brand makes our list.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours.

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at Lexden Group.

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5 Customer Experience Trends for 2016

20162015 saw increased budget diverted to customer experience with more and more companies adopting CX as a primary business model. We anticipate 2016 will see further senior executives and CEO’s taking a closer look to understand just how customer experience can be a more profitable competitive differentiator.

With this in mind, as independent customer experience consultants we’ve captured our CX predictions for 2016 below;

1.The CEO discovers a reliable measure linking CX to profit 

phils book2016 will be a wake up year for CX. We are already finding CEO’s questioning the value of chasing NPS Promoters and top box Customer Satisfaction. Our evidence shows these outcomes do not correlate to profit. In fact, according to Measuring Customer Experience by Professor Dr Phil Klaus less than 1% of profit can be attributed back to these performance measures. 

When discovered, for some this will mean the CX Programme is shut down, for others who continue with these measures it means potentially investing profits in initiatives which will drive very little if any ROI. in his book Phil, who is also a Lexden Director explains the value of pursuing behavioral based CX measurement which accounts for over 80% of profit. For those considering this option it could mean smarter profits, effective investment and meaningful focus on the CX improvements which keep the business ahead of the rest. 

2. Brand to finally join the CX party

Too much operational focus is on the ‘fix’ in CX or digital migration where there are no net new gains. Companies focussing on self-serve apps and online systems might reduce processing costs – but at what price? We’ve seen stats highlighting the unsurprising knock on effect of customer engagement and brand consideration levels dropping and with it comms effectiveness reducing. One of the main reason is that these are designed functionally and without consideration of baking in the brand difference.

We hope 2016 sees more emphasis on making the brand difference in to improvements to create sustainable advantage rather than just short term (and easy to copy) efficiency drives.

There are few in this space we find, but Virgin Money, Standard Life and Direct Line in FS are forging the way with CX becoming a key consideration factor for their customer’s preference. Direct Line in particular apply CX principles beyond promotions and propositions, they are connected to pricing. That’s when you really start to pull away from the competition because you are competing on a different playing field altogether.

We anticipate more will start to differentiate on their CX but it’s like any other point of difference, it needs to be just that, not just the basics done well. It will only be those with sound CX strategies focussed on meaningful measurement which will reap the harvest of their CX investment. Watch companies like The Co-op Bank, The One Savings Bank and Nutmeg leverage CX more in 2016.

3. From personalisation to proactive engagement

Data held (big or small) can be used to predict future eventualities for customers, using this more smartly can really help customers, a service which the brand can be remembered for. For instance a customer who goes overdrawn several months on the trot does not need a ‘when it happens’ notice when their options are limited. The patterns are there for the bank to tell the customers days, weeks in advance of the likely outcome if they sustain their rate of spend. Delivery services are improving on this, as are bus and train companies.

So helping consumers manage time to have more of it to consider more options is to become more important and delivered through a great experience will help companies stand apart.

4. Employee experience will get tangible 

Maybe 2016 will be the year of the employee. Companies who help their employees understand the value of CX reap the benefits sooner. Those who ‘push it on to’ colleagues to be done to customers, have themselves to blame. We have seen an increasing number of requests moving from customer experience delivery to employee experience engagement. Brands such as USAA and Zappos highlight the importance of this first stage. But recruiting the right skill set to help employees is key. Conventional training techniques wont cut it so assuming clients engage CX transformation specialists employees will get it and be able to deliver it better – a big focus in 2016 we anticipate.

5. Feedback Fatigue

We often get asked how to 1) increase respondent numbers and 2) reach a more representative cross-section of my customer base with feedback. It’s true, numbers are dropping inversely proportionate to the increase in feedback requests it would seem. There are now more companies requesting feedback overall than ever before and those who have been for some time are drilling deeper and asking for more from their customers.

We sat in a series of research groups last year looking at customer behaviour towards feedback nero surveysurveys. There is much contamination and conditional completing of feedback forms going on it seems. Consumers are wary, citing being asked for irrelevant and duplicated insights as well as seeing little improvement related to their feedback, as reasons for skimming, spoiling or ignoring feedback requests.

A gear shift will be needed otherwise the quality of feedback will become increasingly impaired. A more worrying trend is the professional survey completers who will complete forms on behalf of others (we haven’t figured out why yet) or bill the company requesting their feedback for their time (similar to focus groups).

So perhaps nothing seismic, but the relatively embryonic world of CX will need to find its feet in 2016 if it is to survive the most harshest of judges; the rising expectations of consumers and the CEO’s budget.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours.

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at Lexden Group.

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Black Friday; a confusing customer experience

Bar humbug – the cost of Black Friday on sustainable profit from customer experience.

So Black Friday 2 came and went without YouTube videos of bun fights over discounted flat screens or Asda and Tesco staff fearing for their safety as iron boards are wrestled over. As it passed relatively unnoticed, I wondered who actually benefits from this rather distasteful annual event?

Black Friday03

Do the increased short term blip of sales stack up against longer term brand reputation impact for instance? The British Retail Consortium reported a drop of 0.4% sales on 2014 so it’s not delivering on sales it would seem. For many shoppers, stores didn’t drop prices as low as had been apparently expected. Online sales did go up. Is this because the fear of having to confront a hardened Black Friday’ bargain hunter type has put the rest of us off the high street. A sort of retail ‘no go zone’. Instead we, and perhaps even the bargain hunters have retreated to the safety of the online bargain battle zone where physical confrontation has been replaced by clicking frenzied spells?

The worry is, will these shoppers now stay away more often citing Black Friday bruising’s as a reason to abandon the high street more often, or altogether? Will this be an unintended consequence for retailers perhaps? These being the very same environments where the majority of the magic of their customer experience comes alive the rest of the year.

I passed a series of Black Friday shop window displays, in a cab. The cabbie said to me, they should call it ‘because we rip you off the rest of the year sale’. He felt if prices were that cheap and they made a profit, retailers were taking customers for a proverbial ride. Has consumer confidence, trust and appeal for some been damaged a deal too far? According to a research poll of one in that taxi, the answer was yes! I only hope the ‘quick BF buck’ was worth it considering the long term relationship damage it could cause.

Does Black Friday destroys long-term brand equity?

I’m quite a conventional shopper when it comes to Christmas with most of it completed in December in a few favoured stores, notably M&S and John Lewis. Often I take in the hussle and bustle of Oxford Street as part of my Christmas shopping experience.

I find Black Friday a fuss too early and a risk of probable compromise on the customer experience I’ve grown to value from my trusted stores. I value them for service not sales, but fear if they have decided to prioritise sales over service by participating in Black Friday my experience will be diminished.Black Friday01

Here’s an example of what I mean.  2015 campaign Black Friday signage was sprayed across our local M&S turning its facia in to something which resembled a looted shop! When is that ever going to be a good look? Where did the inspiration come from for that window dressing – the Croydon riots! That’s a connection I never thought I’d make with M&S – but it’s what Black Friday does to us conventional consumers.

As I write this I realise I haven’t been to either of these stores for my Christmas shopping as much as I have in previous years. Their engagement has potentially impacted my consideration. So the successful brand investment made over several years to gain my loyalty has been unpicked. I believe Black Friday has damaged my preference for these and other retailers who think it’s okay to cheapen themselves at this time and expect me to forgive them. I’m sure I will get past it, but I wont forget.

Black Friday is a ‘promotional platform’ which retailers interpret to suit their own performance strategies, like January sales only grubbier. It’s certainly not the kick-start to Christmas some report it as. It also can’t be owned – unlike the brand reputation and customer experience brands who normally avoid ‘sales sensations’ avoid (which I personally value much more). Hopefully JLP and M&S to place their marketing budget next November.

Mad Bad Friday

There are also some interesting/odd takes on the BF promotion – The 99p Store use it to sell products which cost a few pound more and Starbucks confusingly combining BF with BOGOF.

Also whilst Friday has always been a day long in my mind, M&S has extended the time paradigm to a weekend whilst Dorothy Perkins managed a week long Friday!

I’m sure these promotions are not aimed at me, so I should pipe down, but it certainly has made me think twice about something I previously certain of – my preferred retailers.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours.

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at Lexden Group.

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Mastering FS CX with Lexden

philLast month we ran our inaugural ‘Masterclass in Financial Services Customer Experience’.  We had a full house and a packed agenda. Since that day we’ve received a healthy wave of positive feedback. It has reassured me that we have provided relevant and thought-provoking content to those good enough to come, which was the original motivation.

I have been invited to attend, speak or sponsor a number of CX events already this year. So why did we decide to run another CX event? Well it’s simple really. We are independent customer experience consultants, not event managers or vendors of CX solutions. So we could share freely. We wanted clients to hear conventions challenged and indiscretions exposed. We also wanted to share practical insights that could be given to others to take and apply.

Without these constraints we could make the event complimentary too. Our hosts were the ABI who kindly provided their conference venue having heard our ambition. I am indebted to the wonderful Julie Geraud from the ABI for making that happen.

If you missed the day you can sign up on our website under downloads Click Here and access all the presentations from the day. Plus a short video of speeches will follow too.

CB on stageI am also grateful to our presenters who agreed to take the stage, without previous evidence of a Lexden event to compare what it would be like against. They included:

  • Professor Dr Phil Klaus (that’s him on the right), author of #2 Amazon Business Book, ‘Measuring Customer Experience’ and award winner of numerous CX studies. Dr Phil showed why chasing promoters is fool’s gold and how an alternative measure is 87% more accountable (that’s not a typo);
  • Fellow of the MRS Tom Kerr, a recognised name in FS customer insight. Tom gave to the audience the only model you need when it comes to fulfilling customers experience needs and desires. This was the real deal;
  • Tour de force Darren Cornish, the inspirational CX Director at customer-centric The Share Centre. Darren explained the pains and the pros of putting a customer first in the business model and helped practitioners realise what you need to do;
  • Brian Simpson, the employee engagement expert with a lifetime of experience behind him. Brian created real empathy with the audience sharing emotional experiences that only someone who has been through the pains of engaging employees in customer experience change management understands;
  • An expert panel including Lexden associates Colette Porter and Alvin Jackson, Jo von Riemsdijk from CX Talent and Basia Szumska-Hale from Geneysis;
  • And I handed over the blue print for successfully embedding brand differentiation in customer experience programmes to drive ROI of 6:1

The content was first class with much revealed by all. I had explained to speakers I wanted the audience to take back to their desks ideas, insights and inspiration they could apply and they  duly delivered.

But most of all I am grateful to the people from Visa, HSBC, Ageas, Just Retirement, Direct Line, Dixons Carphone, HGI, Partnerships, Zurich, AXA-PPP Healthcare, TNS, Barclays, Denplan, Legal & General, Kensington Mortgages, Royal London, UK General, Boost, CX Talent and all our attendees for having faith that giving up time to attend would be a worthwhile trade.

We have been encouraged to do more following feedback. So we will be taking the event on the road West and North and looking to re-run the event in other sectors too.

For those who attended slides will be made available and for those who missed it there is a video to follow shortly.

What I love about customer experience is the generosity of those practitioners within it to share freely ideas, models and improvement techniques. We want to be associated with the best practitioners in this sector so glad to share our ideas and thinking too.

Lexden helps deliver Customer Experience Strategy and Management for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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AN INVITATION TO LEXDEN’s FINANCIAL SERVICES CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MASTERCLASS

fs event.emfFS CX MASTERCLASS

On 30th October 2015, Independent Customer Management Consultants Lexden are hosting a half day FS CX Masterclass at the Association of British Insurers offices in Central London.

As someone who reads our blogs on customer experience, we would like to invite you to join us on the day.

The half day event is designed for financial services practitioners to benefit from a selection of thought leading presentations covering a variety of insightful and inspirational customer experience topics to help clients get ahead.

Speakers topics include (full details below):

  • How to measure customer experience profitability 
  • Practical examples of CX working for FS brands
  • How to get ahead of others in today’s cluttered FS CX space
  • What great looks like for FS customers and how to deliver it

If you are interested in benefiting from this opportunity, please complete the contact form details below and we will reserve your complimentary place.

Speakers include:

phil klausWorld renowned speaker, author and Professor of Customer Experience, Professor Dr Phil Klaus. Phil holds multiple professorships around the globe. His award-winning research has appeared in numerous books, and a wide range of managerial and academic journals. His areas of expertise include customer experience. Phil will reveal the uncomfortable truth about conventional CX performance and share a more superior approach.

meLexden’s MD Christopher Brooks has worked with a variety of financial services giants spanning a 20 year career (including Amex, Aviva, Barclays, Raffeissen Bank, Direct Line, JPMorgan, Hiscox, Visa, Ageas, Tesco Bank, Investec, Nationwide, Visa and The Co-operative Bank among others). Christopher will be sharing insights into what those who excel are up to in financial services customer experience.

darren cornish

Darren Cornish is Director of Customer Experience at The Share Centre. Having driven customer-led thinking forward at  Aviva, Axa, Eon and now with The Share Centre, Darren has always had ‘customer ‘ in his title and customer contentment on his agenda. Darren will share the award nominated  FS CX presentation from The Share Centre.

“Christopher delivered a first class presentation at our Protect Association conference. As Simon Cowell would say, ‘He nailed it!’ – Steve Devine, Chairman, PROTECT

If you are interested, we would love to see you there. Either complete the contact form above, reply via the website lexdengroup.com or email christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com to secure your complimentary place.

Full details of this event are below.

fs event3jpg

Lexden helps deliver Customer Experience Strategy and Management for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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How I won without even entering the UK Customer Experience Awards

IMG_4794On 25th September I sat down to watch five heavyweights of banking take each other on in a battle of customer experience supremacy. Visa, RBS, NatWest, Virgin Money and Nationwide presented their customer experience initiatives to me and four fellow judges. As MD of Lexden, an independent customer experience agency, I am used to working with senior stakeholders to demonstrate the advantage of improvements. But that didn’t stop me feeling anything less than extremely privileged to chair the group.

The whole day is a genuine pleasure for several reasons, which as MD of Lexden justifies me taking time out of the schedule to enjoy the event. By the end of the day, even without a drink, I felt like a winner because of what I’d enjoyed and gained from the day. Here’s why…

The Judging format

As judges we receive the written entries a couple of weeks before to review and grade. Then on the day each company presents their entry. It’s then you get to see the passion for putting the customer first and can share the challenges they’ve had to get to this place. It’s inspiring and makes you realise we work in a brilliant industry when you watch the fabulous entries unpacked and presented for customer and commercial benefit.

Variety of organisations competing

Having judged discipline awards such as direct marketing, PR and loyalty you find companies are separated by size as well as sector. With the CX Awards all sized companies can compete alongside each other for categories such as ‘best use of customer insight’ or ‘team of the year’. I was chatting to a team from a smaller finance processing house who had been up against high street brands from other sectors, which made them feel great even though they hadn’t won on this occasion. The reason this can happen is unlike many other disciplines, the customer is the common currency here, which results in such diversity.

It’s also reflected in the occupations of the guests. Where else do you find Professors of Psychology rubbing shoulders with bank tellers rubbing shoulders with marketing execs rubbing shoulders with customers and their dogs (yes – that is right, Eurostar brought a customer and their pet dog along to support their case study).

Wonderful people

IMG_4800On that point of ‘broad cross section’, there is still something that every one of the 2,000 people Awards International attract (and wonderfully look after) at this event has in common; everyone is genuinely passionate about putting the customer first. Some awards collections were delayed as the recipients were in floods of tears such their commitment to that cause. It was emotional to see how much companies want to do the right thing.

Of course it’s more than just interesting for us at Lexden as an Independent Customer Strategy Consultancy helping clients to achieve just that.

Surprising guests

I saw many clients, former colleagues and friends at the event. But two stood out for me because they have offers which are not core to customer experience, but highlight how this area really is growing into a leading industry in business and marketing.

IMG_4807I met up with judges, Jo and Kate. They run a growing recruitment company called CX Talent DEDICATED to customer experience. The importance of the DEDICATED bit can not be stressed enough. Having helped a client recruit a customer insight and customer experience team from a generalist recruiter before it is a nightmare. With two minutes I could tell they knew their onions and their text analytics and their NPS from their EXQ. No recruiter should be without them!

I also met Millie and her colleagues from Boost Marketing. A company dedicated to helping people win awards – what a job! They are fiercely secretive about who they work with but they seemed to be smiling an awful lot when winners were announced. My conclusion being they are very successful at what they do! The conversations I had at our table with Millie suggested a real depth of understanding and interest in CX, which is reassuring if you appoint them to help shape your award entry submissions or help with your award entry presentation,

So there we are, why I enjoy these awards so much. Fortunately the industry is growing and with the quality of submissions each year improving I conclude we are in good shape too.

I am looking forward to helping clients win more awards and judging even better entries as the event which celebrates the very best the CX industry has to offer.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Managing Director, Lexden Ltd

Lexden helps deliver Customer Experience Strategy and Management for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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5 exceptional financial services customer experience examples

CX award winnweThis summer saw the UK’s first Financial Services Customer Experience awards (that’s me on the right with the winning Direct Line team). It was a great day with a few brands taking the lead now. Nationwide, Direct Line and Standard Life picked up more than one gong. With some smaller players demonstrating that you don’t need a big budget to deliver stand out customer service.

We were there to partner the occasion. We judged, we awarded prizes, we also provided the key-note speaker and we had a ball. So I am sure the 2016 finalists line up will be even more hotly contested.

It will also be interesting to see if the winners can continue to turn their famous winning experiences in to even more profitable outcomes for their shareholders (or members in Nationwide’s case), by obtaining more share of their contented customer’s wallet.

The financial service sector has woken up to Customer Experience. With that in mind, here are 5 great customer experiences. We’ve highlighted some which are unique and some which are well used. We hope they provide inspiration either way.

Umpqua Bank’s night time antics

umpqua.png2This American retail bank, with a growing network of branches is bucking the trend. They are locally focused so they’ve introduced a range of ways to embed themselves in the community. Which is all part of their positioning as a community bank. One of the ideas is the ‘hand the keys over’ initiative. When evening falls the branch is closed so the branch is a dead space. Space is much sort after by community groups, so members of the local community can hire the open areas of the branch for social activities such as Pilates and book readings – thereby helping the community out by making more of their underutilised assets.

Sun Life Direct making life easier when it’s painful enough 

sun life directFamous for the over 50’s life insurance (mainly bought for funeral planning) product, 98% of new policy holders state they are happy with the service they get when the plan is taken out.

However, following the death of the policy holder, when a relative claims for a payout is when the brand must really deliver. It used to take a few weeks to get a payout because of the pieces of information and documentation expected.

The irony being that the account holder was often buried before funds which they’d put premiums into the plan for, were released. So the very purpose of the plan was therefore not delivered upon! A basic fail.

Sun Life decided to challenge this with a ‘we take the risk’ approach. It reduced the requirement at claims to one number being needed. With this agreed at Sun Life payouts happen in days now and relatives have less to worry about.

Such is the impact of this idea I’ve since seen it win awards for a different brand, so it clearly has meaning and motivation.

First Direct pay customers for leaving

First Direct buck the trend by not only offering customers an incentive to open a current account, but so confident are they that the experience received once customers join or switch will meet customer’s expectations, they offer the same again for them to leave!

first directThe First Direct Service Guarantee states, “We’ll pay £100 per customer or joint relationship if you close your Account within 12 months of opening it <small print>. We’ll pay the £100 into your account prior to its closure. All accounts with First Direct have to be closed and your 1st Account transferred to another bank/building society.”

I’ve held an account with First Direct (among others) for many years. I can vouch for the thread of steel holding all experience touch points together, across products, across time.  This individual acknowledgement is backed up by several reputable studies and awards in customer service and experience including uSwitch and UKCSI.

Becu bank closing for good!

becu closed for goodThe American retail bank makes a commitment to the communities it serves which is authenticated through every aspect of the business delivery. It’s clearly an authentic focus for them. As their website states; PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST | MAKING OUR COMMUNITY A PLACE TO PUT DOWN ROOTS. As a consultancy which preaches a customer first philosophy (allowing profits to follow) we really connect with Becu. We are a fan and follower of their progress.

Their community commitment is evidenced through several initiatives; people helper rewards, environmental stewardship, financial empowerment partnerships, foundation scholarships and ‘Closed for Good’. These are great experiences for customers, employees and the community to enjoy who see Becu as a bank which cares for its community. It also helps employees understand the importance of community which ensures it is then evidenced through every other touch point.

‘Closed for Good’ is an initiative run on October 20th this year. It entails the bank closing until 1pm and every employee identifying where financial support will be beneficial and sharing their expertise with groups in the community. Is this the business model being delivered or marketing? Either way it ensures customers and prospects experience first hand or through the inevitable word of mouth, that Becu care about those they help. This delivers that rarest of commodities for banks; trust.

AIB’s digital transition lab

aib3There is efficiency in migrating customers to digital interactions with their bank – both for the bank and for the customer. Preemptive marketing which can help customers keep one step ahead of decisions is a good example of where banks can provide customer relationship updates via a digital platform. Click on the pic for a virtual tour of the AIB LAB.

Allied Irish Bank recognised that whilst this is a commercial ambition for the bank, customers benefit from it too. Customer adoption will take longer to move from the ‘comfortable and not broken’ to the new world of digital banking. With that in mind they have created a ‘digital transition’ store in Dundrum Town, Ireland which has no sales agenda but a hand holding experience for customers to trial new platforms and ask questions. According to AIB it’s “designed to deliver an exceptional customer experience through digital self-service.

The award-winning enterprise is making the retail assets move from sales to education to and the support creates a new experience perception of the bank whilst encouraging in a passive and comfortable way customers to trial and adopt new banking platforms. It also presents a future impression of the bank’s image through this experience enhancing activation.

If you’ve enjoyed this article other ‘5 exceptional experiences’ posts cover airlines, how to have fun with CX, hotels and automotive. Click on any to link straight through.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden has a proven track record in delivering Customer Experience Strategy and Management to clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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How Imaginarium playfully deliver the 3 in 1 CX equation

We’ve featured Waitrose and Virgin Trains Customer Experience recently in this feature. So what is 3 in 1 CX? This is when we identify within one minute of engaging with a brand, three touch points which demonstrate the strength of their positioning and differentiation through customer experience.

Despite admiring these brands, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to showcase a favourite of mine, Imaginarium. I first enjoyed the European retailer’s toy shop experience a few years ago whilst working on a customer value proposition commission for an Italian Bank. Since then I’ve been a fan. So when I recently passed through Lisbon and spotted a store at the airport I seized my chance.

So what makes Imaginarium stand apart from the other toy stores? It’s that they recognise the importance of play, creativity and capturing the imaginative minds of children. This is brought to life in two important ways; the products and the in-store experience.

When it comes to the experience they look at it through the child’s eyes. This alternative view point makes the world of difference and creates a much more enjoyable retail experience for all. With two young children I’ve ventured into plenty of toy store retail chains and independents, but Imaginarium is the only one to have an unmistakable brand feel.

Within 1 minute of walking into an Imaginarium you get this. Here are three experiences at key touch points for any retailer which show how they deliver branded CX putting Imaginarium, in my mind, ahead of the others.

imaginarium1The entrance – this has become an iconic identity marque on the high street for Imaginarium. It works on so many levels. The mini arch acts as a greeter, it drives children to drag parents to the store, it is a beautifully different coloured shape to achieve stand out from all other shops in a mall or on a street, it says we are non-conformist to the convention of retail, it allows children to arrive in the store For just a second) on their own,

it’s a perfect defining brand moment which others can never copy and most importantly it says to parents and children you are equally important in our store.

imaginarium2The promotion – In a toy shop, sweets are an ancillary offer. They are non-core and therefore a promotion to enhance the brand reputation. Ancillaries often drive incremental profit for companies. And as long as they reinforce the strength of the brand (and not exploit it for short-term sales as some lesser companies believe they are there for), they can be useful promotions for the brand.

Imaginarium deliver this really well. Their displays are works of art which have to be experienced. They take common products (sweets in this case) and present them in totally engaging and intoxicating way making the cross-sell an enjoyable experience.

imaginarium3

The take out –  When you leave the store with your purchase in tact the transporter for the goods should of course be practical but also be a perfect reminder of the brand purchased. Imaginarium get this. Which is why their carry out bags are branding messages to the customers reminding all why Imaginarium are there and what they celebrate.

The bag states “Playing for a Better Future” and features various children. It has visual stand out and a core brand message. It’s also a bag parents will find hard to throw out (who would dare throw out this bag). They are so proud of their bags, they hang in the store.

Within 1 minute of walking into the store these three experiences wash over you and remind you how much fun Imaginarium is and how important inspiring children’s imagination is to their existence.

Imaginarium are there already, but at Lexden it’s our mission to help other clients find their own brand defining experience moments which also increase sustainable profits through content customer commitment.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden – Independent Customer Strategists

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for free monthly ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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The triple value from VoC – are you getting yours?

Some quick questions to start – Did you choose when to gather feedback from customers? Did you decide how to collect it? Did you organise this around manageable insights?

If so the chances are the truly enlightening customer insights are probably still out there. These are what we define as the triple value insights.

This can happen when the Voice of the Customer programme is set up to find the evidence to support the hypothesis that certain experiences the customer encounters are not meeting a defined criteria of acceptability determined by the company, its key competitors or the sector. In other words, it’s driven by business prejudices.

However, to extract the triple value a VoC programme can deliver the programme should be constructed with the customer’s potential for commitment to your business in mind.

To do so requires an understanding of the commercial value of customer fulfillment over customer transactions, the psychology of responsive behaviour and an appreciation of how to view brand equity. These are not typically entries which appear on the client brief to the feedback agency, which could explain why we rarely see the triple value exploited.

So what is the triple value. Put simply its interpretation of the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ from customer feedback planning.

First layer of value – ‘What’ customers feedback

I demonstrated the importance of this point in a recent workshop designed to help a client redesign a feedback programme which was about to be pulled due to lack of meaningful insights. I handed four attendees a torch each and asked them to lock a fixed beam for a minute on the most important elements in the room which make a workshop run well. They focussed on the coffee, the AV equipment, the air conditioning control and a copy of the workshop notes.

At the end of the session I picked up my feedback sheets which asked what will attendees remember from today – everyone had written down either the outcomes we’d arrived at with them or the facilitator. I asked why they hadn’t locked on these earlier and they said the facilitator was moving and the ideas weren’t formed yet. This helped them understand that whilst it wasn’t possible to shine a light on the facilitator moving about or an idea, that was what mattered and they should have worked out how to achieve it rather than settle for second best.

Feedback systems often measure touch points they can easily track or can get manageable feedback on which can mean the real drivers of behavioural change are missed. Customers can only feedback on what they are asked and when they are asked, so make sure you are shining a light on that which will drive what impacts their commitment and share of wallet.

Beware feedback programmes which don’t offer this flexibility.

Second layer of value – How customers feedback

feedback2On more than one occasion when reviewing a clients key customer issues the ‘feedback’ survey itself has appeared in the top 10 issues. This reflects one of the most undervalued aspects of the VoC programme. Whilst many may think the feedback survey is about a customer journey it is actually a part of that journey. Tone and design must reflect the brand personality. It should blend in. Sadly research companies are not brand specialist and comms agencies aren’t researchers. But with feedback programmes you need the best of both of them.

Read how a Eurostar customer’s high brand experience satisfaction dropped after they received an irritating, poorly branded feedback survey – not what they’d come to expect from Eurostar.

Hold you feedback up alongside you brand manager’s favourite brand activation work – if it doesn’t fit in, you need to rework it.

feedback surveyAlso if your customers have a channel specific way of dealing with you, make sure that’s extended to your feedback survey. If you are famous for phone banking, don’t send a postal questionnaires. If you are a theme park, famous for interactive experiences,  don’t text or email a standard questionnaire.

Bring your brand and your business in to VoC if you want to get a truer reflection and make customers happy to feedback because it’s an extension of the brand experience, rather than a review of it.

Third layer of value – why customers feedback

There is a wonderful misconception that customers’ feedback because they want to help a company improve it’s experiences and for that firm to become preferred by others and ultimately be more profitable. Unsurprisingly, this is not so.

ryanair3Feedback is a release for consumers. It allows consumers to vent the injustice they’ve received versus what they expected or praise what has left a positive impression in their mind or hearts. At it’s best it can even lift a day. To understand the importance of this read Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It explains the role small achievements can play in contributing to more significant ones. It’s great reference material for customer experience managers to better understand the importance a good experience can have on a consumer’s life.

That said there are those who think the ‘why’ means nothing more than to allow a company to score how good (or bad) they are. This example from Ryanair seems to be saying ‘just give us a score, nothing else matters we are not interested in your reason which is why we didn’t ask ‘why’.

if you want to find out more about the ‘why’, take a look at @vexvox. A curious twitter character who re-tweets customer’s gripes but also finds out why the issue mattered to the customer’s life and helps companies understand the emotional impact this has on them. Often companies take profit from the bottom line to repair damage with compensation when all the consumer wanted was understanding and empathy. Emotional context can help prioritise ‘customer importance’ over ‘commercial impact’ which is a big challenge for CX Managers looking to reorder the priority list. Which takes us back to the point of ‘why’ – it’s to help improve the customer’s circumstance.

If you put the customer first, you will release the triple value, which ultimately benefits the company. And success or failure starts with an effective feedback programme.

Lexden provides Customer Experience Strategy and Management support to clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information contact on how we can help your customer strategies contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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Win a copy of ‘Measuring Customer Experience’, courtesy of Lexden

You will be entered into our prize draw to win one of three copies of ‘Measuring Customer Experience’ when you click here and join our list of subscribers to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World Update’.  Prize draw rules below.

Recipients of our free bite-size insights, ideas and inspiration for customer-led thinking include Direct Line, Nationwide, Standard Life, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Visa Europe, HSBC and many more.

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Prof. Dr Philipp Klaus joins Lexden Customer Strategy Consultants

Lexden’s Director, Christopher Brooks announces Prof. Dr. (Phil) Philipp Klaus has joined the Customer Strategy Consultancy as Non-Executive Director.

phil klausPhil Klaus, leading Customer Experience Strategist and scholar, top Amazon ranking business author and globally renowned speaker on Customer Experience Profitability has recently been appointed Non-Executive Director of the leadership team at the Customer Experience Consultancy, Lexden.

Phil shares his views on the importance of driving CX profitability and how it has led him to believe Lexden will be a prime example of Customer Experience Consultancies’ future.

Customer Experience Profitability

“All my life I’ve believed that providing customers with their desired experiences was the most powerful business model to pursue. As a senior manager, prior to becoming an academic, I was exposed to the shortcomings of measuring customer experience profitability based on customer intentions, such as measuring customer satisfaction and NPS. Neither management consultants, nor scholars could provide me with a tool that links CX to purchasing behaviour and profitability. Thus, I took it as a challenge and dedicated four years of my life to finding the solution to the problem. I have remained on this path ever since. My colleagues and I have been collating CX profitability data from a vast range, including some of the world’s largest companies, over the past eleven years. The evidence is there to prove that using ‘EXQ’ to measure CX quality and following certain ‘Vanguard’ practices is the most reliable indicator of CX profitability; measuring actions rather than intentions.”

“I have the privilege of leading a global think tank which has created the link between CX and profitability. We find the 3% who truly profit from CX do so by measuring customer behaviour. These Vanguards have a different mind-set, which includes having the CEO and the CFO on board by talking their language – aligning CX to profitability.”

“EXQ is the measure of Customer Experience Profitability. We know what drives customer behaviour and it’s not NPS. The distinction between using NPS as a motivating internal change management tool and not as a measure of customer experience profitability is one Lexden understands and is an important point of shared interest (and differentiation) Christopher’s team and I have in common.”

New Appointment at Lexden

“The best CX practioners not only recognise how to drive customer profitability from customer experience, they also understand their internal stakeholder’s motivations as well as their customers.”

“CX is about understanding humans; customers and colleagues. I enjoy working with humans who can connect with their audiences in this way. It’s a fundamental requirement to secure support to deliver CX profitability. When I met Christopher Brooks from Lexden it was obvious here was someone who understood how to drive CX profitability effectively and had the important human connection capability. It’s something I soon realised was a nurtured ethos at Lexden and evident in their motivations, methods and management.”

“I travel the world providing keynote speeches on Customer Experience Profitability, so I speak with confidence when I say Lexden has something to contribute which is hugely valuable to clients seeking to achieve higher profitability from their customer experience programmes.”

“It is for these reasons I have joined the board at Lexden to drive forward their focus on effective Customer Experience Profitability assignments. As a key part of the leadership team I will be looking at the capability delivery of the business to ensure we deliver what clients need from CX consultancy partners today and anticipate their future expectations.

“Whilst we are most interested in those companies seeking the common prize [Customer Profitability], how you help a business achieve this differs. Lexden’s agility is a core strength many other more prosaic consultancies would struggle to adopt.”

“Lexden has the desired qualities to be a leading Customer Experience Consultancy, measured by their delivery of profitable outcomes for clients. My responsibility is to guide Christopher and the team to stay true to this potential. This focus means their clients will achieve greater levels of their firm’s customer experience profitability.”

The Future of Customer Experience

“I hear about innovation everywhere I go and it’s always about new solutions to fix the customer problems. Please! I suggest the area to innovate in is gaining richer customer insight to provide better experience outcomes to drive customer profiting behaviours. It’s the customer insight that will spark improved customer profitability from which more effective solutions are born. Talking toys and technology is a sure way to send the CEO running away from investing in CX!”

“Every day, the best practioners learn something new about customers. It is a point in common between my studies and what Lexden prioritises; a perpetual curiosity to understand customer behaviour, how to affect it and the consequential positive impact on business profitability. Through my association this is a key area Lexden will be seeking to exploit in the future.

We help clients build profitable customer experiences and create commercially advantageous customer value propositions

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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Virgin Trains deliver the 3 in 1 CX equation

Anyone who has spent time on Virgin Trains will agree the ‘experience’ is different to those on other rail networks. In fact, as I travel on other networks I see more and more of Virgin’s ‘touches’ appearing. However, with Virgin it seems natural because that’s what the Virgin brand investment promises. With others rail companies it often seems awkward and stands out like a sore thumb.

Our preoccupation is to help clients identify what customer experiences drive profit and make those brand differentiating. Simple really. Through years of experience with this focus, we’ve accepted that driving profitable CX is much more likely to succeed when backed by a brand which is:This is the latest in our series of 3 branded experiences in a minute.

  1. meaningful to its customers so they can extract the value it offers;
  2. accessible by its employees to translate into meaningful customer experiences;
  3. envied by their competition who can at best deliver a ‘me 2’ copy of an experience.

Within a minute of arriving on a Virgin Train there are three brilliant reminders of their brand strength, delivered through the least likely of experience opportunities.

The step

This isn’t just any step. Courtesy of the Virgin brand, this is a whooshing, moving into place, Thunderbirdesque gliding Virgin step in to a world of potential (okay, slightly carried away, but you get the picture). It possibly is more attributable to the train manufacturer than Virgin for the steps movement, but none of the other companies have one.. Even if they did, theirs would still be a dirty step on to a train. With Virgin Trains, the brand promise has meant it could be so much more (even when it’s dirty too).

The loo seat

Virgin Trains demonstrate that ‘any’ piece of estate can be leveraged. This message could only come from them though.  You will find it on the back of the loo seat on-board, it’s also in the voice over in the loo…..yep the voice over in the loo. It starts as expected with, ‘please don’t flush nappies, paper towels’…but ends in a less expected place with ‘your ex’s sweater, hopes, dreams or goldfish’. This toilet humour would be strange from any other network, even though they have the same infrastructure, but for Virgin it is spot on.

virgin trains.jpg4virgin trains

virgin trains.jpg3

The loo wall

Apologies. My one minute journey took me from boarding to this room! It’s just a wall, surely! On every other train this is no more than a beige bobbly abyss of a wall. But on a Virgin Train it’s an escape route to another world. Admittedly not every other network has a balloon enterprise to throw up, although I couldn’t see that ever stacking up as a, ‘the reason we don’t do it’ response from the competition.

What it does show, to all, is how the less conspicuous and often overlooked spaces have as much a role to play in delivering branded customer experience as the more obvious areas of improvement such as service, comms and technology.

This issue featured Virgin Trains. Click here for our recent blog on Waitrose.

If you want to find out more about how to deliver brand differentiating customer experience, contact us,

We will bring you more 3 in 1 adventures from the world of CX. Next stops will include Citizen M and Mini. If you have a nominee for the 3 in 1 CX equation please send them through.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

We help clients build profitable customer experiences and create commercially advantageous customer value propositions

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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Can you deliver the 3 in 1 CX equation? Waitrose do.

We spend most days at Lexden helping clients to improve the effectiveness of their CX performance. That may result in a more valued brand differentiation, a new business model, an interactive employee engagement game, an increase in cross-sales strategy etc etc.

That’s the point; CX has moved on. Positioning CX as the only holistic all-encompassing new way of life for all to religiously follow is too much of a shift for many leadership teams? We don’t think it’s needed always either. In fact, we see it as a more effective business model to drive sustainable profitability. If that’s your aim, then bingo, you are the type of client we work well with. So read on and then we’d love to hear from you.

Rolling your sleeves up and working in the smaller ‘everyday’ customer experiences can be as fruitful and rewarding as seeking to exploit those defining moments which enables your brand to pull apart from others. Don’t get me wrong, we recognise the 8:1 ROI from the extraordinary branded CX opportunity is superior to the 1:1.25 potential of the ‘brilliant basics’. But let us not forget brands need constant feeding to keep their value and customers need as many touch points to experience that brand as possible.

So finding opportunity for the brand experience to shine is key. Finding these amongst the invisible spots, the unnoticed nooks and crannies is still a playground of opportunity for those clients prepared to look a little further and those of use helping clients who look beyond the conventional.

With this in mind we will bring you a number of brands who do this, effortlessly well. So easy in fact you trip over them. Many talk about delivering memorable CX at the start and the end of the journey; the CX rainbow.

Of course the chasing the pot of gold matters, but we do find a sprinkling of experiences in between can help pep up the customer performance indicators and encourage higher levels of average usage throughout too. To demonstrate how natural they are, pick a brand and find 3 in 1 minute that qualify.

Here’s 3 Waitrose experiences we found in 1 minute. Not every brand can deliver this. But those who do have CX baked in to their business model.

waitrose 1 waitrose 3waitrose 2

1. Flowers – here they are with a bunch of flowers you can buy in store. They brighten up the place and say, they are good enough for us too. They also sit there for a week to show the quality.

2. Local community – Waitrose keep close to their communities and this much copied approach to local charitable donations speaks it in volumes. The fact that these are three cricket clubs adds a very appropriate ‘middle England flavour to Waitrose too.

3. Recycling the promotion – Waitrose may have moved the coffee cup behind the counter to keep out the M&S Food pretenders, but they are still squeezing more out of that cup as this poster I spotted shows and oozes Waitrose values.

Virgin Trains next!

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Experience & Value Proposition Consultancy 

We help clients build memorable customer experiences and create engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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Why the CEO is king when it comes to CX

“We break china for our clients”

broken chinaThis is an expression I heard from the CEO of a private bank I was developing a new rewards programme with. I am not quite sure exactly what it means, but I got the sentiment immediately. It convinced me the CEO cared about his clients above anything else. It also set a standard by which the rewards programme and any other customer programme had to live up to. This was over ten years ago so there was no supporting VoC, no customer charter and no continuous improvement programme in place. But it served them well then,  as it does today, to prioritise actions which delivered more for their customers.

This commitment, in part, inspired me to focus on Customer Experience. It led me to find the correlation between experience and profitability. Which led to the creation of Lexden as a Customer Experience and Value Proposition Consultancy. I have a lot to thank that CEO for.

It highlights the impact having an authentic CEO onside has when it comes to driving customer strategies through the business. We’ve flagged this support as a key contributor in customer experience programmes ever since.

This CEO clearly got it. In fact 80% of CEO’s believe they get it according to Bain & Company.

merc2Steve Cannon, Mercedes Benz CEO has described Customer Experience as the new marketing. He goes as far to say, “Operational excellence is the ticket for entry. We need to eliminate the word satisfied from our vocabulary. Satisfied for me is vanilla. We need to delight. We need to amaze. We need to provide extraordinary.”

Whilst some CEO’s have committed and are driving customer experience through as a new business model, consumers of many brands have yet to reap the benefits. In fact, the same research from Bain & Co identified only 8% of consumers agree the CEO’s do get it.

And some CEO’s seem to believe they can flick CX on (and no doubt off) like a switch. I heard this perception reportedly shared by a CEO of a low-cost airline who stated, ‘They <customers> will walk across glass to get to our planes if the price is cheap enough’. Needless to say that whilst a CEO with this approach to business might momentarily commit to CX because of the profit potential, a less sustainable ‘squeeze more and give back less’ strategy will turn their head too.

If you want to know if your CEO is really committed to putting customers first in order to drive greater profitability, take a look at our 6 point check. On the left are the behaviours and business actions pushed through observed from CEO’s who prioritise customers:

CEO ranking.pptx

When the CEO leads; the business, all employees, customers and ultimately shareholders profit. CEO as king of CX is crucial to maximise the profit potential from such an investment.

The CEO is key, but a successful CX strategy is much more involved. If you want to know if your overall CX plan is effective, try Lexden’s ‘The Right Direction’. In two weeks we will identify where you are now, where you could be and recommend how to get there.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Experience & Value Proposition Consultancy 

We help clients profit from customer opportunities and challenge | We achieve this by helping to understand what makes customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

 

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Did anyone notice it was my birthday?

So today I turn 43. Ouch. Well actually less ouch and more wahay! That’s how I feel today. With a wonderful family, some great friends and heading a business which focuses on helping brands make customer experience work for them, I’m doing what I enjoy, so I am looking forward to the next year.

I’ve had a stream of well wishing LinkedIn, voicemail, text and emails so far. Italy, London, Latvia, Edinburgh, Australia – as far and wide as I could imagine messages have reached me. And with the school run still a priority even on this momentous occasion, a table full of cards and presents waiting at home when I return this evening for a special birthday dinner. It’s a day I look forward to and moments of it I will remember forever.

In fact, most media has been active in congratulating me. I clicked on Google and was welcomed with this simple but effective personalised message:

google birthday

 

How wonderfully simple. An opportunity to tailor content to me (and the other 23rd Februarians) and they took it.

So I then thought, how many other brands know my age and are always trying to find an angle to create relevance and cut through? They are always trying to hit me with messages relating to stuff of theirs I’ve looked at but not bought. I wondered if they’d managed to connect their business model to my world and recognise it was my birthday in their CRM programmes?

Of course not. CRM doesn’t stand for ‘Christopher Really Matters’. So unless I’ve popped up on a ‘he should be buying this widget he browsed for 2 seconds over 10 days ago’ list, or similar, I’m not of value to them today. To prove my point here are two of the most prolific data rich e-marketers communications which hit my inbox yesterday, at about the same time my wife was wrapping presents and boys writing cards:

amazon birthday

expedia birthday

 

 

 

 

Missing the art of personalisation

In fact, Amazon are asking me to buy gift cards for someone else! Here was a great opportunity to personalise content to me in a light-hearted, but emotionally connecting way. They miss their moment. Or rather the CRM algorithm does.

However, when I’m browsing a site, the company can manage to collect every impression I make and serve that content back to me as an offer I’ve obviously missed. I’m not quite sure how this logic stacks up. That would be like assuming we never take a wrong turn when driving, or we never say anything we don’t mean, or we are never inquisitive.

But who is to blame for this shortfall? is it the CRM or brands fault, or is it the people who instruct the decisions on personalisation?

I attended an airline conference last year where one of the ‘industry expert’ facilitators barked out the virtues of passenger personalisation as being the future for airlines. Along with empathy, I could buy this point. But then his colleagues proceeded to share an array of ‘made up bundles’ of packages of airline benefits they have created, which cost the customer more but actually give them less. And with a wink of his eye finished with a, “Now that’s personalisation”. To which the audience applauded. Oh dear.

The true art of personalisation

If you want to get it right, leave the CRM system at the door, leave the marketer intent on tripping the customer up at home and start thinking about how to really connect with consumers when and how it really matters to them. Because, it really doesn’t matter if we all get the same thing. If it feels personal to me, then it is.

Thank you Google; you’ve gained a few advocacy points today. All the others who missed their chance, remember it’s my world and on the whole I choose (based on how they behave on days like today), which brands live in it.

dragonTo finish here’s a little personalisation that can go along way. It’s an example of how to deliver a standard message in a personal way. The customer has completed the ‘any other request’ box with a cheeky, ‘draw a dragon on the box’ comment. So that’s what the pizza firm did. No doubt increasing advocacy and sales from customer who will be more committed because of the personal attention.

Happy birthday to me.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant Lexden.

The Financial Impact of Customer Experience – discover why 97% of companies fail to reap the rewards of CX. Webinar hosted by Syngro and featuring Dr Professor Phil Klaus and Christopher Brooks.

Sign up to our monthly slice of Putting Customers First best practice and improve your customer experience.

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Customers will never forget how a great branded experience made them feel

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou (American poet, biographer and actress 1928-2014).

This sentiment has proved a useful yardstick when designing memorable customer experiences and compelling customer value propositions with clients. You know when you’ve got it right because customers state favouritism in feedback session such as, “I can’t quite express why I like them. They just seem to be in tune with what matters to me”.

brand heartHowever, measuring this emotional fulfillment is challenging. And I’d argue because it’s difficult to measure, it isn’t. Brands tend to be valued on awareness or share of market instead. Even if salience, relating to buyer memory structure, is on the brand dashboard it tends to be informed by recent promotions and the latest wave of advertising messaging. Businesses prefer to set their path by that which they can measure results against. Sadly a warm feeling inside because someone did something that left a lasting memory is not something a city analyst calculating brand equity will be able to make a company valuation on.

That said, customer experience does create an opportunity to deliver memorable engagements between customers and brands, which will remain in the consciousness for a while and the subconscious even longer.  And with measures such as NPS proving effective predictors of retention rates and profitability, it’s no wonder customer experience is seen as the next battlefield for differentiation.

Will it catch on? I think it will – I judged an awards last year where a market leading GI firm’s Commercial Director presented the case for CX as the reason their business fortunes had picked up.

So how do you deliver experiences or propositions which make customers ‘feel’ differently about a brand? For me it’s about three things:

  1. Understanding the situation your customer is in now
  2. Deciding how the better place you want them to be in feels like
  3. Devising how you get them there in a way that reinforces the nurtured values of your brand

Companies like Disney and Zappos do it naturally. For most it’s more of a commercially calculated decision, but that’s still okay. If the outcome makes the customer remember you favourably because of the way you made them feel, it’s a deeper connection than a 50% discount will ever achieve. As well as being a considerably more profitable one.

Here are a couple of examples which hopefully will leave a warm feeling inside and demonstrate how you can get massive cut through at very little cost by putting the customer’s feelings first.

Timpson’s & the unemployed

timpsonIf you’re out of work you can’t afford to be splashing out on dry cleaning. But at a job interview to rectify the situation, you want to give yourself the best possible chance of success. A freshly pressed dry cleaned suit or outfit can only help your cause and confidence. I’m not sure how they got there but this big hearted gesture from Timpson’s Dry Cleaners will live long in the memory of any out of work candidate who takes it up and lands that new job. As well attract applauds and a new customer or two in people like me acknowledging they don’t have to do this, but they do.

Ritz-Carlton & Joshi

This has almost become legend on the CX circuits but it’s worth rolling out a few more times yet. Having returned from a holiday at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Florida, Reilly’s Dad realised that his young son had left his favourite soft toy Joshi the Giraffe behind. He called the hotel and they located it. Having found it the staff could have said they would ship it back at cost. But instead they had some fun and at the same time justified Joshi’s extended stay to Reilly. Joshi was returned with an album of memories from his time ranging from Spa treatments, to restaurant meals, pool time and more. Reilly, his parents and now millions of social media viewers have a warmer feeling about Ritz-Carlton than they did before.

joshi2 joshi1

It’s that simple. Start with a scenario which is relevant to your customer and devise the best outcome you can achieve. Then worry about how to make it happen. It’s amazing where it can take you and just how long it will last in the hearts and minds of your customers.

For more on brand impact of customer experience try this presentation made by Lexden in 2014 to the Financial Services Forum.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to ‘Putting Customers First’  for fresh insights. 

For further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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‘The Right Direction’, a new customer experience effectiveness audit

We work with companies striving to drive profit from customer led strategies.

But only 6% of companies are actually fulfilling their CX potential (Temkins). From our experience there are several areas to be questioned when a customer strategy is falling short of its potential. One of the most important being the customer experience programme structure itself.

In some organisations this is an ‘approach’ where all take an interest at some point, in other cases it’s a very defined set-up with dedicated personnel. In both cases we find there are a number of activities which need to be realigned, further enhanced, removed altogether or introduced to get things back on track.

Our THE RIGHT DIRECTION audit is an expedient review and recommendation service which identifies what needs improving and how. In fact we go further than that.

1. We highlight where you current endeavours will take you in terms of customer experience ROI projections

2. We assess how that varies (costs and revenues) from the stated business expectation

3. We show which activities need further work and how to develop them to ensure they deliver against the business expectation

4. We show what further enhancements could be introduced to deliver an even greater ROI (we look for +4:1).

The diagram below contains further explanation.

Picture3

Audits take 2 weeks to complete with a report presented back the following week.

We are now scheduling requests for 2015.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to ‘Putting Customers First’  for fresh insights. 

For further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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5 exceptional airline customer experience examples

Last month we brought you 5 essential customer experience examples. Lexden would class these as those which ‘Maintain’ competitiveness. This latest batch are different. They create ‘Advantage’ and ‘Differentiation’ for the airline and are more progressed in terms of customer experience maturity according to Lexden’s assessment. For a short paper on how to assess your organisation’s CX maturity (and therefore ROI potential from CX) please forward your email. 

Customer experience is the perfect business model to demonstrate brand differentiation. Essentials tend to be easy to copy so will rarely define a brand, regardless of sector. Those focusing on these areas alone will always be caught unless they can constantly improve essentials. Where as those airlines who also strive to be on the forefront of customer experience innovations building advantage for passengers, the bottom line and the brand can become recognised for their experience.

They range from original and unique products, to new design features and service improvements. I hope that this list of those which stand out from the others will be helpful to you, no matter which industry you work in.

Signature dish

malaysia airlines satay dishSignature dish is something that is a well-established differential factor for restaurants and gastro-pubs, but not so much in the aviation industry. However, a signature dish in in-flight menu can really boost not only the customer experience, but also the airline brand. The best-known example of that is the chicken satay with peanut sauce served in Business Class on board Malaysia Airlines. It has become a must-try dish for all passengers travelling with this airline. Many passengers ask for it, and it is even considered as the best satay that one can find in Malaysia. The secret is that passengers on every single long-haul flight on board Malaysia Airlines can taste this dish. Thus, it does not only highlights the Malaysian culture and enhances airlines image, but also makes passengers crave it.

Magazines and Newspapers in Economy Class

ba magsNowadays, passengers are increasingly expecting up-to-date reading materials in the cabin. As in Business Class that has become an essential product, many airlines still neglect Economy Class passengers. British Airways is amongst the best airlines in the world in providing free reading materials to all passengers, regardless of their cabin of travel.

The airline is providing newspapers and magazines near the boarding gate, so that passengers can select and choose their favorite title even before boarding the aircraft. This has two advantages:

1. The airline does not have to provide copies for all passengers, as many will not be interested in this service.

2. More importantly, making newspapers and magazine available to passengers before boarding, allows the airline to organize the boarding process quicker, and in case of any flight delay, passengers are more understanding.

Lounge – Gate Entry

ethiad gate boardingThis is one of the most innovative customer experience features, as it allows Business Class passengers to board the plane straight from the business Class lounge. Etihad Airlines, the flag carrier of UAE, has invested a large sum of money intro this unique feature, at selected airports in the United States. Thanks to this design, Business and First Class passengers using the lounge, can board the plane without the need of queuing at the boarding gate. Passengers can bypass that, and board the plane at their leisure directly from the lounge. Only few airlines can now offer this service, as this requires very expensive design adjustments to allow an additional air-bridge to be connected with the lounge. However, in my opinion, more and more airlines will offer this feature in the future, as Business and First Class passengers expect seamless and stress-free travel experience.

Immigration on board

garuda immigration on boadGaruda, the flag carrier of Indonesia, has introduced a very innovative and unique service on board their long-haul flights to Jakarta. Thanks to this service, passengers on board a Garuda Indonesia flight can obtain a visa on arrival with the assistance from immigration officers available on board. This saves time for passengers, as they do not have to go through the time-consuming visa application at the airport. Moreover, it helps Indonesia to attract more tourists, hence generate more passengers for the airline. From my own experience, this service works very efficiently and has been well received by passengers.

I believe, that more airlines will introduce this service, especially in popular tourist destinations, such as Vietnam or Cambodia, where foreign tourists are still required a visa on arrival.

QR Kids set

Qatar airlinesFlying with kids on a long-haul flight can be bothersome not only for the parents, but also for all other passengers. Children, out of their comfort zone, tend to seek attention as a way of controlling the situation or if familiar with surrounds can get easily bored on a long flight. Qatar Airways with their extensive long-haul network, realised that creating a fun and engaging environment for their youngest passengers, will not only make the journey more pleasurable for other passengers, but also would encourage parents to travel with their children more often. Qatar Airways offers a wide range of amenities for kids. For instance, they have a dedicated IFE channel, with videos pre-selected for kids. Also, QR staff would distribute toy sets, which includes books, puzzles and colouring pages. Finally, during the meal service, children can receive a special lunch box, with meals designed especially for kids. Not revolutionary, but not universal either.

These passenger (or customer as every other sector refers to it’s clientele) experience examples not only improve the overall experience, but also strengthen the airline brand and image driving carrier preference beyond price.

As more sectors accept when it comes to attracting and retaining customers who have the appetite to be loyal, price has been a less effective lever to influence behaviour than experience, we can expect many more innovations will follow.

Posted by Julian Lukaszewicz, Airline Consultant and Associate of Lexden.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to ‘Putting Customers First’  for fresh insights. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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Unordinary Thinking No. 46 – keep the lights on when everyone’s left the building

Offices, banks, shops, libraries and sports halls all have one thing in common; when they’ve served their intended purpose and visitors leave, the shift ends, the lights are switched off and the doors are locked. This is typical practice and environmentally sound in most cases too. But could an equally important contribution to society be made if you keep the premise open even when you’ve headed home?

Applying this unordinary thought in a very ordinary way means letting others make more of what you’ve got. Read on to discover three very different examples of what can be achieved when you think beyond the end of your shift.

Be upstanding please

emily barker2Okay, so churches don’t actually shut but the venue can wind down when the parishioners are not in attendance. Or do they? A couple of weeks ago I was watching one of my favourite bands; Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo. It was an emotional night being one of the last gigs for the North American folk sounding band before they split. The ticket stated the venue was on 197 Piccadilly, London. I couldn’t recall a concert hall there. When I arrived I discovered it was in fact St James’s Church, Piccadilly. Their music is not religiously intended and their subjects cross a boundary that some regular parishioners may feel at odds with. But as a venue with atmospheric up-lighting and acoustics bouncing around the dome, for the 400 of us jammed it came alive.

I spoke to a couple of the volunteers who explained this is an idea for raising funds beyond the conventional approach. Their venue has dwindling audiences and is expensive to upkeep. Where as bands have a great following prepared to pay handsomely to see them. By leaving the lights on, the Church attracts a new paying audience and the band has a memorable venue to play in.

Taking a rain check on skateboarding

Earlier this year I watched Ida Auken, the former Minister for the Environment in Denmark, impressively present at TEDx Houses of Parliament. She recalled a great example of a project she was involved in regarding optimising neglected space in Denmark. The area of Roskilde suffered from increasing levels of rainwater causing flooding to the neighbouring towns. But rather than a standard drainage project being commissioned, Danish architect Soren Nordal Enevoldsen, famed for skateparks, was invited to tackle the problem.

skate park2Enevoldsen and his company, Nordarch, designed a concrete area with graduating slopes that collected and transported the water into a canal. They also ingeniously transformed the 24,000-square-foot drainage facility from a potential public infrastructure eyesore into a multi-functional recreation area by shaping the water collecting bowls with half-pipes and grinding edges for skateboarding. Now the Rabalder Park project has become a gathering place for both rainwater and skateboarding enthusiasts.

The odd couple: banking & yoga

Umpqua Bank has 364 branches spread across Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Idaho and it’s growing. They are bucking the trend of retail banking by profitably opening branches when others are heading for a digital relationship. That’s not the area  of unordinary thinking they apply.

yoga umpquaFor instance they open their doors when the branch stops its regular trading. Along with yoga they organise virtual bowling on the big screens for seniors, art exhibitions and even ‘stitch and bitch’ sessions for local resident groups. These out-of-hours sessions are helping them to connect with their customers and prospects beyond banking. It’s also giving those attending an opportunity to see their bank is as much a part of the community as they are. Will it catch on? With $22 billion in assets to date, perhaps truly customer-led thinking is a strategy more banks should consider.

So the next time you are about to clock off and leave your work place, have an unordinary consideration about who else could be optimising your space when you are not there. It might just be the making of your business.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to ‘Putting Customers First’  for fresh insights. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com 

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5 essential airline customer experiences

One of the greatest things about customer experience programmes is the portability of strategy through to activation from one sector to the next.

Whether it’s financial services where products are not tangible or airlines where everything is tangible the same customers are constant in both. They can even experience both sectors at the same time. This means their expectations of what one sector can deliver versus another are blurred beyond recognition. This means it’s getting harder to keep up and a real challenge to differentiate on experience.

So it’s fundamental to know what contributes to a successful customer journey; the moments of truth and deliver them brilliantly. So to know what brilliant looks like, you might be wise looking beyond your own sector.  With that in mind these 5 examples from the airline sector may be of more  interest to the financial services community more than anyone else!

There are many different factors that contribute to a successful airline journey which delivers satisfied passengers. From years of experience I have identified there are a few essential customer experience products that play a much greater role for in reducing anxiety, removing friction and adding value to the journey, than perhaps the industry sometimes realises. Delivered well these can drive those satisfied customers.

Self-Check-In Machines

Beyond booking, the passenger’s journey experience starts the moment they step into the airport. Shortly after arriving, many frequent passengers require quick and easy check-in process. They do not want, nor have the time to spend a long time queuing in the traditional airline check-in counter.

This is time consuming and is contrary to many passengers’ needs. That is why, the Self-Check-in Machines (CUSS), are so vital to the overall customer experience.  They do not only help passengers save time, but also allow the completion of the check-in procedures at their own pace, which makes the entire process stress-free.

check in machineNowadays, passengers value being independent and they do not want staff assistance at the every step of their journey. Many airlines that have successfully incorporated the CUSS machines into their check-in area, have not only shortened the queues, but also significantly improved the overall customer experience.

 

Boarding System

It is often stressful, as many passengers queue up and want to board the plane all at once. Many passengers state that the boarding process is one of the most stressful and unpleasant parts of their journey. Therefore, an efficient and clear boarding system can not only improve the speed of the process but also improve the overall passenger experience.

Tboarding systemhere is no golden rule regarding boarding systems, all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. Studies have shown, that well organized boarding system can speed up the boarding process significantly, resulting in a shorter turn-around times, which results in better utilization of the aircraft. Thus, by introducing efficient boarding system, airlines can not only eliminate passengers’ anxiety, resulting in improved journey experience, but also maximize profits.

Welcome on board

The welcome message from the captain is so important, because it does not only provide detailed flight information, but more importantly, it allows passengers to familiarise themselves with the captain and create a personal bond.  After first-time passengers hear the captain’s voice, they tend to be calmer and more relaxed. Good Cockpit communications can also save lives.

captains welcomDuring a famous incident over Indonesia in the 1980s, when a 747 lost its 4 engines due to volcanic ash, the captain said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.” His candid message prevented a panic on board the aircraft. Therefore, captain PA cannot be understated and should be always a vital part of every flight. As in any other industry, in aviation as well, communication with the customer is the key. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”

Amenity Kit

amenity packSimilarly to a hotel, where passengers expect to find the essential washroom amenities in their rooms, airplane passengers (beyond economy) are increasingly demanding comparable services. Most airlines now offer amenity kits in Business class, which became a standard premium product.

However, Economy class passengers’ needs are still being neglected. An eye mask, toothbrush, and socks can not only provide much needed comfort on a long-haul flight, but also significantly improve customer experience. Many airlines that have introduced amenity kits in Economy Class, have observed a steady rise in passengers on long-haul routes, resulting in better financial performance overall. Helping passengers spend the long journey in comfort by providing simple amenities results in improved experience.

IFE System

ife systemFinally the entertainment system (IFE). Nowadays, airlines that do not provide a wide selection of entertainment also struggle with overall customer experience. Interestingly, passengers increasingly demand IFE system to be available even on a medium-haul flight. This has become a crucial service expected by passengers across the cabin.

What is more, some research suggest that when an aircraft is fitted with modern entertainment system, staff have less work due to the fact that passengers are busy watching movies, instead of asking for assistance. Also, less drinks and snacks are served on such flights. As a result, it is a win-win situation, staff can direct their attention more efficiently, and passengers have more ways to spend their time on a long flight.

In conclusion, all of these examples either already are or soon will become the essential product parts of the airline customer experience. So I hope these have been of interest to you, whatever sector you are involved in.

Posted by guest blogger, Julian Lukaszewicz, former airline customer experience consultant

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to ‘Putting Customers First’  for fresh insights. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or  T: +44 (0)1279 9022056548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com 

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5 examples of how to have fun with Customer Experience

Often customer experience improvements focuses on broken processes, reducing friction or the dreaded self-serve (normally cheaper for the business but more effort on the customers than they would really like). All are about taking away pain and turning detractors into promoters….okay passives.

But do companies have the momentum to take this through from their ‘permission to trade’ or ‘brilliant basics’ level up to ‘make it enjoyable’ level? Not always sadly. But when they do it creates positive talking points and memorable experiences. Of course without the maintenance ground work, building fun experiences is more difficult for the business to feel it should be investing in or customers to enjoy if they’ve got outstanding gripes.

Suspend that thought and put yourself in the shoes of a customer experience team who are over the brow of that hill and living in the ‘make it enjoyable’ zone. Here are five enjoyable customers experiences which tickled us and we hope you take inspiration from too.

What we like about these is that you can see what the old experience was like. It wasn’t actually broken but there’s always room for improvement. Someone has said, ‘Could we make it more fun and see if that makes it more successful?’

Turn left. You will

tomtomThe technologists behind sat-nav science are incredible. But those at TomTom who decided to make the instructions barked at you come from the voices of John Cleese, Mr T, Yoda or Darth Vadar are genius. Rather than labour over the technological improvements in the mapping accuracy, which is already a 1000%  better than me reading the map, adding the voice increases the fun threshold to warp factor 10. And as soon as you get bored you can change to new voice.  In fact, Brian Blessed is the latest voice to be immortalised – Gordon’s alive!

Challenge Pizza Hut

Ipizzhut came across this example through twitter so have pieced the story together. But as I can make out when ordering there is a ‘any special requests’ section taken at the end of the order. Typically the response is ‘please hold the onion’ or ‘double anchovy’, but the customer has thrown in a cheeky ‘draw a dinosaur on the box’ request and rather than tell the customer to take a jump, the Pizza Hut staff have risen to the challenge and made a boring space very fun. It begs the question what else can you do with the inside of a take away box!

Grow your money trees

Umpqua could have a whole blog on fun experience all to themselves. Where others are moving from retail banking to mobile banking they are opening more stores. And according to Barclay’s analysts’ it’s not just a community play, it’s a commercially sound model. The Economist reported, “Barclays predicts by the end of next year, Umpqua’s return on equity will be 14%, far above the average”.

umpqua

They do things differently. For examples here is a plant on a customer’s door step. That may be what it looks like to you and I but this is actually a loan mailing. I’m sure you can get the creative reference link to growth, but you may have got the fact that what is normally a dry comms piece is made memorable and fun. And guess what it outperforms any other loan mailing stats you’ve ever seen!

Beep. Beep. Making shopping more fun for Mums

 tescocarToy cars in supermarket are not new. In fact they’ve been with us for a few years now having been introduced by Tesco in 2007. But go back to that moment when someone said, ‘I know stick a toy car to the trolley’. After a ‘Are you insane!’ was first fired back the visionary commercialist (also known as the customer experience manager) would have said, ‘hang on there is something in this. Anxious Mum’s buy less. Mum’s get anxious because of bored kids. Bored kids love driving toy cars. Toy cars would fit to a shopping trolley’ at which point everyone’s proverbial penny would have dropped. It was brilliant then and it always will be brilliant. And it’s less to fund than a crèche!

And the overall winner in the CX fun category is…

My favourite examples of fun in customer experience are those like the Tesco example above where fun has been used to take away anxiety or a negative behaviour. It’s a movement in its own right and if you are interested take a look at the VW Fun Factory examples.

But to finish my favourite example of improved customer experience is actually from real life. It’s the toddler eating journey that parents go through daily. It makes business challenges look like a walk in the park when it goes wrong! Getting small children, who are very good at manipulating broken processes, to eat when they want to play is a real challenge. But this fun idea is very successful and has probably been around since toddlers first needed feeding, but the ingenuity of it is still stunning.

mums

Put into a corporate context, ‘fun food’ versus ‘as it comes food’ – the outcome is exactly the same food gets eaten so why do it. But with fun food there are three huge advantages:

  1. More produce (toddler’s food) is consumed with fewer issues (tantrums) reducing time and effort spent on getting the customer complaints (toddler pacified).
  2. The customer (toddler) engages in the process (dinner time) willingly prepared to be distracted from the other more enjoyable daily tasks (toys and TV).
  3. The front line staff member (Mum) is more productive because there is less effort needed (feeding & remaking thrown food) and satisfied because the labours have been appreciated (feel like a good parent for a moment).

If you want some new inspiring creators of fun customer experience recruit a group of Mums with toddlers (left at home). They are world class fun CX practioners.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on  M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205 .    You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com 

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Three ways in which brands are optimising their customer experience investment

Customer Experience is still a relatively new strategy for businesses to follow. Whilst most have a feedback programme and a customer dashboard in place, many are still trying to figure out how CX will drive their business forward. Whilst this is playing out there are three options we’ve observed that have varying levels of effectiveness.

The ‘CX as a mission’ company

Zappos, the ladies online shoe retailer and part-time CX academy headed by Tony Hsieh. The strapline is ‘Powered by Service’. and with a number of legendary service delivery stories circulating they’ve become the ‘thinking CX practioners’ version of perfection.

zappos2One such story is that if a customer calls to buy shoes that they don’t have or sell, they will transfer them to a competitor free of charge so they can buy the shoes. Try that one if you are a telco or asset manager! But they have found when (and it’s when not if) the customer returns they spend 2.5 times as much on their next purchase. It’s baked in to who they are as any of their employee videos show.

The ‘CX as a measure’ company

I know of several companies who have put NPS up as a measure by which they will judge their CX success. Others even bonus staff on lifting NPS targets. I’ve also spotted NPS targets popping up in vision statements as well. But because it’s a number, it’s something that is aimed for and the business deems itself a success if it achieves it and a failure if it doesn’t.

I was at a conference recently and another speaker told me he’d seen car salesman rip NPS as a measure apart. It didn’t matter where the target was set they hit it everytime. And not a point more. They had worked out what they needed to do to achieve their targets. It had nothing to do with what mattered for the customer or how the company wanted to be portrayed. Scores like NPS are not what’s important, its the verbatim and feedback that they represent. This is the gold that helps the company get better and delight more customers. Be obsessed by customer betterment rather than the measure.

The ‘CX as a message’ company

kia adIt’s not surprising, with comms agencies taking an active role in CX strategy development, that some clients CX efforts focus on messaging their CX achievements. For instance, Kia have used the findings from what I assume would have been their VoC workshop inputs as the concept for a TV ad. With customer comments on post-its popping off the wall. It is then followed up with the boast of being voted No. 1 for satisfaction.

HSBC are in on the act too with a very beautiful ad. It parallels brotherly relationships with staff providing unexpected support and finishes with the strap line, ‘We reward our staff for delivering outstanding customer support’. Interpreted by a colleague of mine as, ‘We have to pay them otherwise they wouldn’t do it’.

Now having written a blog on the greatness of HSBC’s CX recently, I know it’s not like that in reality, so forgive my outburst HSBC – I love you still, but I’m not sure the ad agency or those briefing them, get what CX is. There’s a link below, make your own judgement but I think paralleling brotherly ‘love’ with customer service support is confused.

hsbc ad

In their TV ads, Nationwide use their CSAT scores (from their own study not an independent one) to present themselves as No. 1 for Customer Satisfaction on the high street. My wife, a member, would argue that’s unnecessary media spend. She knows they are No.1 in her eyes because they’ve always delivered a great experience and have earned the right to be her bank forever because they always do right by her.

She would say they don’t need to tell everyone how great they are. I would say they should use this platform to demonstrate why they are No.1 instead.

In summary

Great customer experience is something a customer feels and experiences. Those like Zappos who have it hard wired in to their DNA deliver it with every customer engagement. Those who place importance on measuring it will find CX is only great where or when it is measured. Just because the customer completed a feedback survey, it doesn’t mean they actually score the company. They only do that because they were asked to. For consumers its less quantitative – they know it’s right because it works for them. It’s an emotional connection and often only realised way after the event.

The reward is the customer remains engaged with a preference. They will stand in the queues, wait at the bus stops and sit in the coffee shop telling stories to others about how great your brand is.

However, this advocacy is a key benefit of delivering a great customer experience that should be measured because it will reduce your marketing acquisition and retention costs because your customers are doing your marketing for you.

Making sure your customer experience is a mission means the measurements will be achieved and the messages created through stories on the street which is more powerful than a TV campaign.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on  M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205 .    You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com 

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Has digital figured out how to improve high street customer experience?

Time, our most precious commodity. And lunch hour even more so.

So, isn’t it great when brands takes this into consideration and use technology to reduce effort and improve the convenience of the experience rather than just employ it to save costs.

And even rarer when the designers and the technologists work together to enhance the aesthetics and with the perceptions of the brand at the same. This perfect collision of world can deliver a better experience and reaffirm the differentiation of the brand. This drives a greater ROI from CX than the typical ‘preservation’ approach digital often is employed to provide. (migrate customer from one costly channel to a less costly channel)

To understand how to measure if your CX strategy is ‘maintaining’ a basic level (often at a low ROI) or ‘differentiating’ at a superior level (and delivering a higher ROI) email us for a copy of Lexden’s ‘MAD CX’ Audit 

With this in mind, here are two examples of much loved high street names leading with a customer experience approach which introduce digital technology into their operational processes across the value chain to add real value to all involved.

McDonalds Faster Food

If your fast food is not delivered fast enough or you find waiting in a queue as time consuming as downloading via a poor internet connection. McDonald’s has begun trialling in store self-order kiosks with speedy contactless payment for time strapped customers at one of its branches in London.mcdonalds

Welcome to Planet Argos

Separately, Argos has made much of its new sleek digital concept stores. Bringing the online experience to the high street with the entire catalogue available to order via an interactive tablet as well as a collection facility. Click the image to link to a YouTube video showcasing the new store in Old Street, London.

argos

In both cases, what works is the simplicity of the approach. Whilst each has clearly been designed to speed up service fulfillment, it’s noticeable that actually having designed the process with the customer at the centre, visitors to the stores can be observed happily interacting with the simple to use technology and in fact spending that extra time to browse, select and even order more.

 

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on  M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205 .    You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com 

 

 

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How M.A.D. is your Customer Experience?

cx model

Is the ROI on your customer experience living up to its potential?

In our experience many CX programmes full short of what they should deliver largely because of the structure of the programme.  They end up Maintaining an acceptable customer experience or only occasionally delivering a real Advantage to customers and the business  but rarely achieving the ultimate ambition of reinforcing the Differentiation of the brand (or M.A.D. CX for short).

What does your CX working world look like?

If you find yourself knee deep in root cause analysis, customer mapping yet another page of exceptions, struggling to get MI produced at touch point level or explaining to the board why NPS has plateaued whilst CX investment has increased, then you are know your are a customer experience practioner.

But if this sounds familiar it may mean your customer experience programme has become more about maintaining a level of acceptable customer experience rather than striving for reinforcing brand differentiation.

Despite the business investing the resource, communicating the importance of customer centricity internally, delivering dozens of cost and time saving experience improvements and celebrating NPS increases, many CX programmes are not actually getting past ‘Level 1 – Maintain‘.

It’s reinforced by customers who believe only 8% of companies deliver a great customer experience whilst 80% of companies believe they do.

With this in mind, we’ve made it our mission to help brands revisit their approach and achieve the optimum potential of their CX endeavours.

At Lexden we’ve developed an independent check-point Customer Experience Effectiveness Audit to help brands committed to customers to understand where they are, how they got there, how much more they could achieve from CX and how to get on track to realise this.

We call it our M.A.D. CX Audit. It covers:

  • Identify which level your CX is at now and what’s keeping you there
  • Understand the business environment CX is operating in and the governance surrounding it
  • Identify how your employee’s and customer’s value your customer experience activities
  • Assess the commercial impact of customer experience improvements to date
  • Identify your journey comparative to your competitors, your senior stakeholders and your customer’s expectations
  • Identify the optimum level for customer experience within the organisation
  • Highlight activities requiring realignment (people, planning, partners, process, culture) to effectively support revised optimum level potential

It’s the perfect ‘light touch, high impact’ review to ensure your CX programme achieves the maximum ROI.

Or for more details of the service, please click here.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548.     You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com 

 

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The promotion that kicked the supermarket in the 50p’s

On Tuesday a colleague shared with me this Sainsbury’s internal poster asking staff to encourage customers to spend a further 50p per visit. So what? It’s no different to what any marketing department would consider, ‘how do we increase customer spend?’

What was unfortunate was that the ad meant for a staff room or back office ended up in a prime position in the shop’s front window. With the insatiable thirst of twitter for such mishap snacks, the poster may have only been up for a few seconds, but it’s now public for all eternity.

The only saving grace with social media is that no sooner is it posted, than the feeders move on. That is unless you have a canny, nimble and mischievous competitor who wants to squeeze a bit more fun/pain from it. So by Wednesday the same colleague had sent me this new ad from LiDL who have managed to poke fun and demonstrate their integrity credentials in one execution.

which are you

Every touch point reaffirms or destroys brand value that the business has invested in. Whilst LiDL’s ascends, Sainsbury’s declines.

To compete, you have to be quick and make the most of any opportunity. Obviously if you are shackled by regulation, such as the financial services sector, being this light of foot may be a challenge. But it’s a salient lesson to all marketers of how to get it wrong (by not managing the activation all the way through to conclusion) and how to get it wonderfully right (by being alert to what going on around you as well as within the business).

But the question is which of these situations do you associate with? Do you think your own company is more likely to faux pas or to capitalise on someone else’s mistake?

I’m sure we’d all like to think we’d be the LiDL on this one, but are a few of you probably thinking, ‘we are probably more likely to drop a ‘Sainsbury’s’ than activate a LiDL’. Something to ponder on.

If you are not sure, perhaps it’s time to review the effectiveness of your marketing resources and make sure they are all working towards the business objectives, set-up to exploit the potential of where your markets are heading and the experiences your customers will be making purchase and relationship decision based upon.

Should you be interested let me know, we help brands ensure their marketing resources are effectively organised and deployed.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the marketing decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read case client studies at at www.lexdengroup.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How HSBC creates brand advocates through Customer Experience

I rarely write about my own customer experiences. Usually I’m taking examples from others and blending with my observations to evidence best or worse practice CX planning.

But on occasion I experience a customer experience as a consequence of a situation I’ve found myself in which impresses me enough to tell others.

And when it works, really well, it reminds us of the importance customer experience in helping consumers trying to ‘get on’ and live their lives. Great customer experience removes the friction in life which holds us back from getting through the day.

As a ‘consumer’ I can’t really consciously value this until it goes wrong. CX in this context operates as the unsung hero. However, the more important that process to me within the context of my life, the increased favourability I undoubtedly have for one brand over another.

So when something unexpected happens in my life, a customer experience designed to remove the anxiety will go a long way in turning my passive relationship to a promoter of their brand. I might even commit the experience to a blog. Here’s my story…

hsbc 2…at 11.30am I stepped back from a presentation I was preparing and picked up a couple of approved invoices to pay. I looked for my ‘securekey’ which allows me to access the HSBC business bank account. It wasn’t where it normally should be. I knew I needed to call HSBC to get a replacement. I decided I could make the payments when it arrived.

I was working remotely from our Bishops Stortford office so called the London office and told them the situation. I was reminded that these were due today and one by midday. Panic back on. It was at this point I realise I should have paid them before I got stuck in to the presentation but it was too late and the presentation was due to be sent in two hours.

hsbc bsI headed to the local branch of HSBC. As I walked there I realised I didn’t know what it would achieve going in to see them, our branch was in Victoria, but with the minutes ticking I wanted to share my pain and see what could be done over the counter.

On arrival I was greeted with a smile by a greeter. I explained the situation and he calmly said it could be sorted. He told me to head to the teller to get the payments made first. I did. I explained my quandary to the lady behind the glass. With enough security checks to make me feel comfortable, but not so much that I felt violated, ‘we’ made the payments on time. I say we because without the HSBC team I would have failed.

The lady informed me that if I called the replacement securekey team from the branch they could issue me a new card now. Wow, so within 45 minutes of my crisis starting, it would be over.

The greeter dialled through the IVR and connected me to a person. Being a global bank I expected a globally located operator. I was right. But that didn’t diminish the empathy and understanding of my situation he offered.

To get through to the point where an email was sent to me and a new securecard handed to me in branch involved three phone transfers and the assistance of three members of branch staff. But each one of those phone transfers managed my expectations and when I was handed over the recipient of my call explained my situation to me straight off to give me confidence that they were in control.

I left the bank 20 minutes after arriving with payments made, a new securekey ready to activate, a smile on my face and a tweet winging its way to broadcast from @consultingchris on how great they’d been.

It then dawned on me that I’d had a branded customer experience. This was global, local in action. Okay I wasn’t trading with New Zealand or requiring advice on setting up a venture in Baltimore, but I was vulnerable and their global network of operators helped me out capably supported by the local team.

From a customer experience best practice perspective this delivers against all 6 customer attributes:

  1. They managed my expectations across every touch point
  2. They minimised the time and effort taken by employing various channels and technology to arrive at the right outcome
  3. They empathised with my situation and brought my anxiety down whilst we got things sorted
  4. They resolved my issues without any sense of it being less than why they were there
  5. They personalised it to me. It may be this happens on a daily basis for them but I felt they’d structured their customer experience response specifically around my situation
  6. They showed integrity putting my interests first. They could have been more stringent on security (more than needed) but a few smart questions ensured I was who I said I was and they let me use a branch in the middle of the phone even though they were hosting a MacMillan Nurses Cake morning .

Hats off to HSBC from me and our suppliers who got paid on time.

Not forgetting my client who received the presentation in time too. And that’s why all of the above was so important to me. It allowed me to ‘get on’ with my business.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on  M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

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5 customer experience examples from the hotel sector

One of the sectors we help brands attract and retain happier customers in is the hospitality sector. It never ceases to amaze me how hotel brands and boutiques push the boundaries in customer experience.

I often think telecom, utility, financial service, retail and local government customer experience teams should run their strategy round tables and improvement workshops from hotels. It would give them a real sense of what level of customer experience their customers are experiencing when they are away from their brands. It would help them appreciate how their endeavours are often compared to brands in completely unrelated sectors and not just their industry peer group.

With this in mind, here are five examples of great customer experience from the world of hotels which consumers who consume from all the sectors mentioned above are experiencing as well. Some we’ve witnessed first-hand, others have been passed on to us by impressed travellers. But they are all great touches which help to create memorable experiences and advocates out of paying guests.

The Andaz Casual Check-in

andaz ambassadorNot a new idea, but a very impactful one. We stayed at Hyatt’s Andaz hotel in London. On arriving into the lobby we were approached by a greeter. Asked to sit in the comfortable lobby area by a greeter with a tablet to hand, complimentary coffee arrived and the greeter checked us in as we sat. On completion a concierge automatically arrived (no doubt triggered by the completion of the check-in transaction) and took our luggage. We then settled back and watched the world go by drinking our coffee. We ccouldn’thave felt more valued or welcomed. No wonder the hotel achieves a 91% rating and is in the top 5% of London hotels on Trip Advisor.

Premier Inn Family Proposition

premier inn doorThis example proves you don’t need big budgets or luxury brands to deliver exceptional customer experience. Premier Inn demonstrate how you can repackage existing assets to meet customer’s needs better. The low cost hotel has introduced a most impressive proposition; the ‘silent please’ family ground floor. I stayed there with my family whilst visiting my brother in Staffordshire last year. We were put on the ground floor and asked to ‘Shhhhh’ between 7pm and 10am. Having stayed in hotels when our children were babies and been woken by guests not unreasonably chatting in the corridors at not unreasonable times, this idea is helpful when settling children for the night. But it was the lovely touch of an extra spy hole for children on the door which I felt added fun to the experience. It was something for the kids which proved a great novelty. A great and relatively low cost addition to reinforce their family appeal.

Conrad’s Sleep Academy

conrad sleepWhilst on the subject of sleeping, Conrad in Chicago has taken the humble pillow to a new level of consumer choice. Whilst some hotels offer a choice of ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ when you book or as you check in, Conrad has created its own Sleep Menu website with a range of sleep services for guests. Of course you can choose the pillow of your choice, but extras like ear plugs, quilt turn downs, night caps, lip menders, moisture lock socks and wake up calls have all been packaged under this fun proposition. Using services which any hotel could provide, plus a few more to be distinctive, the way it is presented creates a memorable experience which reinforces the attention to detail only associated with a brand like Conrad.

Ritz-Carlton Values Delivered

I am sure you’ve heard this one before, but it’s a compelling demonstration of what you can achieve when you set your customers satisfaction bar as high as creating “unique and memorable” experiences.  Taken from Bloomberg Business Week, “One family staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Bali, had carried specialized eggs and milk for their son who suffered from food allergies. Upon arrival, they saw that the eggs had broken and the milk had soured. The Ritz-Carlton manager and dining staff searched the town but could not find the appropriate items. But the executive chef at this particular resort remembered a store in Singapore that sold them. He contacted his mother-in-law, and asked that she buy the products and fly to Bali to deliver them, which she agreed to do.”

Each day at around the world, employees from every department gather for a 15-minute meeting, known as a “lineup”, to review guest experiences, resolve issues, and discuss ways to improve service. Once basic housekeeping items are out of the way, the time is spent reinforcing the brands service values with employees using guest example storytelling to explain how they have delivered against them.

Hilton Double Tree’s Cookie Miracle 

hilton cookiePeople have told me (more than once) that they choose Double Tree because they get a cookie! When you think how big an impressive a hotel building and the resources needed to run it are, it sounds ludicrous. But what matters to me as a guest, is not the same as what matters to the hotel always. The cookie represents the personal touch, it’s a gesture demonstrating care and consideration. Virtues a guest unknowingly extends to every aspect of the hotel because until they’ve experienced it they only have the cookie as evidence of it. As they put it, ‘there is something special about a warm, yummy chocolate chip cookie. It says “Welcome” in so many ways’. 25 years later and with an annual production run of 21 million cookies, it keeps delivering the values they wish to demonstrate better than any ad or promotion can.

These are 5 examples from one industry, but the sentiment of the examples can be shared and delivered across many others. If you’ve enjoyed this selection you might want to check out our 5 great automotive customer experience examples too.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

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Unordinary Thinking No. 45 | Womble wisdom + odd-shaped oranges = rich resources

A common quandary in business is how to prioritise scarce resources. Scarce resource allocation is a conventional way of looking at the problem of where to focus. However, why be limited by what’s scarce. Why not consider alternatives in abundance which are conventionally not employed for the task instead and not be faced with a limitation problem?

womblesWe love the examples below of two companies who have applied this unordinary thinking to great effect. But first to The Wombles who recognised this commercial opportunity way before the rest of us. Created by Elisabeth Beresford in the late 60’s, the Wombles were profiting by making the most of the rubbish that everyday folk left behind. They focussed on plentiful resources which for whatever reason were deemed not desirable. They then turned them into something better altogether.

This unordinary thinking theme taps into that logic; investing time in figuring out how to turn plentiful but unwanted resources into something of value is more fulfilling than figuring out how to stretch desired but limited resources further.

The supermarket which made ugly fruit popular

The first example is from Intermarche. The French supermarket identified there were more than 300 million tonnes of ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables thrown away each year. Whether it was the supermarkets fault for defining quality through beauty, the media’s fault for parading perfection as a minimum standard or our own subconscious emotional drivers for seeking betterment to blame, good enough food is being wasted.

ingloriousTheir cause was to rehabilitate the ‘Inglorious fruit and vegetables’, supporting the 2014 European year against food waste initiative. The fruits and vegetables nutritional value is as good as their better looking cousins but because they were surplus to requirements they could be brought to the supermarket shelves for less which was passed on as a 30% saving to customers.

Although it wasn’t quite as simple as that. Such was the shoppers mistrust of the ugly, they needed some reassurance that different looking didn’t mean a different taste. So Intermarche pulped and mashed and created the Inglorious soup and juice selection. And with what they looked like taken out of the equation, the shopper could appreciate that under the skin they were just as delicious as their beautiful cousins.

Here’s their engaging film playing out the story. It wonderfully demonstrates the value of seeking alternative under-utilised resources and ‘training’ them to do the job in hand. It wont be for every customer, but for those who it is, once they’ve dismissed a buying criteria such as ‘what food looks like’, they get the same quality but for less cost. And the farmer gets a return on previously rejected produce as well.

It’s a principal that can be applied to business too. Once you start co-creating with customers you often find they are be prepared to trade on an element you focussed on if another criteria is better fulfilled.

Knowing Barcelona back to front and inside out

When you visit a city, you always feel you know the landscape and its history better if you’ve been on a walking tour with a local or someone who knows the city. But tour guides who have the knowledge, the inclination and the availability are hard to come by if you are looking to set up a tour guide operation. So who can you turn to take your tours?

barcelonaHaving lost her job in Barcelona, Lisa Grace, decided to set up Hidden City Tours. She wanted guides who really knew the streets and could talk about their stories and the stories of the people from those streets – mixing social history with social reality.

Attracting established tour guides from other companies would be expensive. Apart from the money, why would they switch company? And even if they did, where would they find the new knowledge that Lisa felt would help her tours stand out? The reality was these scarce resources were out of the question so Lisa looked to a underutilised resource in abundance in Barcelona, the homeless. With numbers doubling to 6,000 in the last two years there was a choice when seeking those who fit her ‘advanced expert’ criteria.

Lisa now has five tour guides who are/were homeless. Each has a back story which brought them to the streets and to where they are now. These stories add richness and humanity to the history of Barcelona’s streets. Lisa helps them make the most of this experience, ‘they’ve just fallen on hard times. It could happen to anyone.” says Lisa, “we select our guides based on their attitude. The guides are fantastic and it’s really worked.”

Whilst both inglorious fruit and vegetables and hiddencitytours are cause related projects, the commercial potential behind the unordinary thinking concepts is to be admired. Taking an unordinary look beyond the conventional can often find a different solution which proves to be a better one too.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on  M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.

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5 customer experience examples from the automotive sector

The great thing about working on customer experience mentoring and programme management is  how transferable ideas and initiatives are across different sectors. Customer is a constant regardless of sector so ideas transfer and inspiration can be taken from other sectors. It’s quite unique in that way. Clients are keen to see examples from other sectors to help stretch the thinking within their own.

With that in mind, here are 5 examples of customer experience initiatives from the automotive industry. So if it’s your sector; hopefully you can take direct lessons from these. And if you are in a different sector, let them inspire your lateral thinking.

Ownership drives customer- centric approach at JaguarJaguar

JLR asked Engine Service Design to help them design the customer experience around the purchase and, critically, the ownership of the C-X75. Engine explored a range of complex needs around ownership and driving experiences to develop the customer experience. Engine translated the insights into a set of principles and service personality to guide both the C-X75 experience and also the wider JLR experience.

Meet the BMW CX geniuses 

“The dealership experience is as old as the car industry, roughly one hundred years old. While cars have changed, the retail experience is much the same as it was one hundred years ago,” says Dr. Ian Robertson who oversees global sales and marketing for BMW.BMW

BMW leaders studied brands outside of the car industry to create BMW’s “future retail strategy.” According to Robertson it led to “a complete redevelopment of BMW’s digital world, the physical experience at the dealership, and how our people interact with customers in the sales process.” With an obvious nod to the Apple Store, BMW decided to create a new role in its dealerships—the product genius. The BMW product genius is a non-commissioned expert who will spend as long as it takes to educate car shoppers about their choices. “The product genius is not encumbered by the sale process and is not motivated to sell a car,” Robertson responded. “His motivation is customer satisfaction.”

BMW has already recruited about 900 people for its product genius positions and will hire a total of 2,000 over the next 12 months. The dealerships will also offer a seamless multi-channel transition from the digital store to the physical one. Robertson made an observation that applies to most business ventures in today’s digital economy: “What we have done in the past is definitely, definitely, definitely, not good enough for the future.”

Employee engagement to drive customer experience improvements at Lookers

lookersLookers recognises that a motivated and satisfied workforce lies at the heart of its success. It enhances its ‘Customers for Life’ company strapline and ethos. It revolves around Lookers NICER values: Nice, Informative, Caring, Enthusiastic and Responsive (driven by customer relationship drivers).

Paul Bentley, Director of CX said, “It’s that simple really. Happy staff makes for happy customers. The customer experience is the ultimate differentiator in the modern car retailing business and we are keen to make sure we deliver the best there is”. Areas of improvement targeted include customer and staff engagement, where regular appraisals, customer and staff surveys and improved internal communication are made a priority through regular analysis and measurement.

Audi uses customer experience to turn satisfaction scores around

audiAudi’s 2020 vision is to leave customer’s delighted. But 21st out of 23 in the International Aftersales Customer Satisfaction (IACS) rankings meant they had work to do. service issues and poor comms drove Audi customers elsewhere. A ‘Driven to Delight’ programme reached out to all 132 Audi centres from valet to sales translating ‘delight’ into behaviours.

A mobile entertainment unit took a roadshow taking everyone on the journey towards ‘delighting’. Starting with negative customers and finishing with a premium customer experience showroom once customers were turned into more loyal and profitable fans from receiving a better customer experience.

Where customers were satisfied was the foundation built on. But using a ‘Total Reality’ the appointed Brand Biology consultants worked with staff to figure out improvements. Staff bought in and committed to deliver improvements. The following years IACS results ranked Audi eleven places higher at 10th.

A differentiated customer experience the Mercedes Benz way

mercAfter sales is key for premium car sales. External market forces have levelled the playing field with the independents stealing share on price. Mercedes Benz looked to differentiate their offer.

Time was spent with dealers and customers to understand what great looked like when it came to after sales. Competitors that were praised were mystery shopped too. all insights were mapped across an organising vision. A suite of end-to-end concepts and experience enablers were tested using desktop versions to full scale prototypes. Five service principles were arrived at and MyMercedesBenz after-sales vision was born. Which features several core propositions such as My service booking apps.

Workshops were used to drive staff engagement. And a pilot was developed wit every aspect of the experience; comms, behaviours , interactions with 3rd parties and environment revised to align to the visions.

Satisfaction rating rose by 50%. Retail visits jumped to 8.1% against national decline of 3.1%. Average spend up £18. MyMercedesBenz has rolled out to 25 regions with 25 more and collected a host of prestigious industry awards.

I hope these have been of interest to you, whatever sector you are involved in.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on  M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you awake to how your brand is sleeping on the job?

Whenever I’ve sat in brand tracking debriefs or read satisfaction study reports the customer awareness, saliency, warmth, voltage, advocacy etc. scores are always pegged to visible and planned actions by the brand. Yes, the reputation studies include the unforeseen PR and the NPS verbatim tell us what’s broken in the journey we have asked the researchers to look at. But it masks an important ‘invisible’ customer brand experiences.

We spend much time focusing on the brand presentation. Ensuring the values bleed through livery, environments, events and communications. We project the image we wish our brand to convey to our customers and then pursue it through every point of engagement. TV ads, sponsorships, experiential events, websites, brand ambassadors, etc. all employed to deliver the message and create the right impression.

sbarro picBut whilst being a customer strategist and helping brands customers at the heart of the business equation, I’m also a prospect and a customer of thousands of brands. Each vying for my limited time, to fulfil my immediate need and trying to earn a place in my heart by being that brand which takes me forward to achieve my own deep-rooted subconscious emotional drivers in life. In short, my relationship with brands is no different to everyone else.

But what the extra ‘it’s my job’ perspective gives me is, ‘I see dead brand engagements too’. We all see them in fact. The difference is when I see them my immediate reaction is not to stare at the brand deficiency but to observe those gawping at the brand misalignment.

When the brand is awake everything always looks great, but when it sleeps – ouch. And like an NPS detractor, these are the moments which linger longer in the consumer’s memory or become the stories that get shared faster and wider than those about the brand ad which was informative or the retail store layout which was fit for purpose.

Above is a photo from Atalya airport. We grabbed pizza from here on our way back from our summers holiday recently. I don’t know how much Sbarro spend on marketing, but this was my experience of them promoting themselves. The guy we can see in the photo here is a member of the staff and he is asleep on a table in the restaurant. This is fine if the restaurant is closed and it’s the end of the day, but this was 14h00 and the airport was rammed. I grabbed a table with our boys and my wife went to see what was on offer. But when she came to tell me we looked at the sleepy-head, shook our heads and left. You’ll notice from the lack of customers around him it had the same effect on them!

What does this image tell us about the pizzas the Sbarro serves? I should say nothing. But it tells me that perhaps the food we were going to order, pay for and eat is as tired and worn out as their staff. The ads might be telling us the food is fabulous and delicious, the lady at the counter shouting to passing trade that they offer ‘excellent pizza convenience ready now’ are trying to persuade us of a different story. But the ‘zzzzzz’ will beat any other buzz from a memorable brand experience they can think to serve up.

Ensuring staff understand customer experience expectations is critical behavioural training for today’s brands.

To say that staff is not part of the brand experience or that the brand manager has no impact is to quote from a 70’s text book on the new age of marketing. Experience is everything, as we say at Lexden. Customer experience is the new battleground for brands.

But will these observations come out in a typical brand tracking study…absolutely not. Brands need to rethink the how they take a ‘slice of consumer life’ when it comes to brand experience.

hsbc2I saw this HSBC façade recently in London. It’s showing me what looks like a bank (especially with the doorway shape in centre), but it’s not actually there. As a customer of HSBC that’s a bit annoying especially as I had a question and spotted it on google maps so made a b-line. But more damaging as a brand famed for seeing the world in a local context it seems short-sighted. I’ve seen many other HSBC ads as I’ve travelled around Europe on business, but this image is sticking in my memory more than most for some reason.

sbarro tweet2It is the same with Sbarro, this is my memory (and yours now possibly). They have sadly lost the business of our family forever. Probably no great loss to them. In fact when I posted this picture on twitter I received this reply (ouch). But a blog about it which will reach hundreds on practioners, bloggers and media distributors isn’t the best return on your marketing investment either!

If you’d like to read a recent blog on the importance of aligning social media efforts to customer experience click here

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.