Category Archives: Activation

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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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. 

With customer experience design, functional is good. But don’t stop there.

“Focus on the whole journey, not just the transaction”.  In the world of Customer Experience (CX) you will hear this phrase frequently.  But what does it mean?

It’s the difference between a task and a purpose.  The difference between a user story like the one above, and meeting a customer’s overall goal.  It is important to understand the difference between the two, because how you frame the interaction determines how your customer will experience it.

This is perhaps best illustrated with an example:

The background.  You are a lifelong customer of Locality Bank.  Your parents took you in to the bank open your first account when you were a child, and you remember how you felt when a moneybox was presented to you as a thank you.

Your dealings with the bank over the years have always been consistent, efficient and straightforward.  You don’t usually give banking too much thought, often using online services.  It just happens in the background.

But recently you decided to strike out on your own and start a business.  This is new and uncharted territory, and you are looking for help to get started.  Locality Bank are the first people that spring to mind.  You phone them to make an appointment – you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

Scenario 1.  The person who answered was fantastic.  She knew exactly what you were looking for, apparently quite a few customers are in the same boat, so they have put a package together just for people like you.  She invited you to come in , walk through how everything works, then decide which elements will work best for you.  She knew you had been with them for years, so they know you pretty well.  There will be very little form filling, and lots of talking about your business and what excites / worries you most about starting up.

Scenario 2. The person who answered was polite and efficient.  She asked if you would like an appointment to see a new business adviser.  You  asked whether that was the best thing, but she didn’t have any other options, so you booked an appointment anyway.  She promised to send a pack in the post which you can fill in and bring along.  It will help the Bank assess your suitability for a business account.  You felt a little unsettled by this.   What if they can’t help?  If you can get through this stage, it’s another step towards your little business getting up and running, but you will look at other options just in case.

Scenario 1 leaves you reassured, and looking forward. Scenario 2 leaves you anxious and looking for a plan B

We’ve all encountered these scenarios, where we’re left feeling a certain way by one supermarket/airline/store/bank and completely different by another.  It’s something you can’t put your finger on, but it makes you feel…something.

So why the difference?

In scenario 1, the business understood this customer’s whole journey.  The history of the relationship, their context right now (nervous excitement), and their goal (I want to start my own business, I need help to understand how it works).  It was efficient and easy, but it went beyond the transaction and delivered the total experience – which was reassuring, empathetic and human.  Almost as if they were standing beside this customer when she made the call.

In scenario 2, the business focused purely on delivering an efficient, easy transaction for their customer.  The customer’s goal is likely to have been framed as “I want to make an appointment to speak to a new business adviser”.  Nothing wrong with this – efficient and easy is the foundation of a good customer experience – but they were looking at the wrong goal…

It was all about the bank, not the customer.  The experience was functional, and process-driven, and left this customer feeling unsettled.

 Customers are human.  We all have complex brains.   When I set out for the supermarket I can be very task focused and impatient; I want to get in and out quickly (rational).

But I also equate food with home, and making people happy (not so rational).

Perhaps what I am really looking for is kudos from the family – a hugely effective distraction from price labels, and the reason why I often come out of the supermarket without the items I went in for (completely irrational).

So how do we avoid falling into the trap of designing purely functional journeys which miss the point for customers?

Map the journey.  From the customer’s point of view.  Journey mapping is a brilliant method of stepping back from the minutiae and seeing the whole picture:

Map the journey.  From the customer’s point of view.  Journey mapping is a brilliant method of stepping back from the minutiae and seeing the whole picture:

  • Get close to customers, in the moment.  This helps you to understand how customers think (and ex-customers, and near-miss customers)
  • Decide how you want your customers to feel, and what you want them to say about you.  What does your brand stand for?
  • Use journey mapping to show where you are hitting the mark, or not.

Journey mapping helps to clear the mist, so you can design interactions with purpose, which meet their true goals and deliver the total experience.

Reproduced with kind permission by Beth Richardson, Lexden Consultant – helping business get closer to customers.

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

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.

 

Air Travel Customer Experience: Next battleground for aviation businesses

 

ACE

The air travel market has experienced dramatic changes over the past decades; it’s less than a century since the Wright Brothers first flight, air travel became the most popular and the safest mode of transport in the world, carrying more than 3 billion passengers annually. However, they constantly struggle for profits. In the Air Travel market the customer has all the power, with a plethora of carriers to choose from. That is why, Customer Experience is the key to success in this industry.

Customer Experience will be the next battleground for aviation businesses, which constantly has to strive for passengers in one of the most competitive industries in the world. Due to the extremely high level of competition, which leads to dismal profits, aviation executives who constantly have to maintain operational efficiency, feel that focusing on customer experience will not add any value to their business. But this is wrong and old thinking. Only business executives who do not understand the customers of today would think that experiences do not matter and unfortunately we can see results of that, because according to one study, the airline industry ranks in the bottom 4 per cent in customer satisfaction. In order to turn things around, airline executives must make long-term customer loyalty the primary focus of their business, and not price, because only then they can achieve sustainable growth.

Focus and investments in Customer Experience will lead to true airline differentiation, which in turn would lead to gaining market share, that results in optimising profitability and creating a long-term loyalty. The golden circle of Customer Experience and Loyalty will not only increase airlines profit, but also at the same time create loyal followers who would be willing to pay premium price.

Airlines have to realise that focus on Customer Experience is not just wishful thinking from consultants, but it is an unavoidable process that takes places across the business world, and airlines are already lagging behind. In order to stay relevant in today’s world, the customer has to be in the centre of the organisation. Only the customer has the power to transform the business and build it into something great.

Airlines are not unique businesses; they do not operate in a bubble where no other business is alike. Nowadays, airlines like all other businesses have to actively compete for customers. Thus the best starting point for any airline executive is to build on best practices from other industries like retail, hospitality and gaming.

One example that  illustrated the disconnection between passengers and airlines and how much they can learn from the hotel industry, was when i flew a few times on my birthday. Despite the fact that my passport and my personal information has been checked several times at different points during the journey, no-one noticed that it is was my birthday. However, when checking into a hotel, I was offered a free glass of champagne at reception and a free room upgrade as a birthday gift. If hotels can do it relevantly easy, why can’t airlines with their terabytes of passenger data? Offering a customer a glass of champagne or free chocolates on their birthday would not cost a lot, but it would create an experience.

Airline executives have to do their homework and build Customer Experiences from the foundations in order for it to yield high and sustainable returns. They simply can’t omit some steps and only pick strategies selectively. Only when there are stable enough foundations, then airlines can focus on true brand and experience differentiation. Really, airline executives need to realise that Customer Experience is the most important and profitable growth investment opportunity in the airline industry today.

This is just the first of a series of entries, on the importance of Aviation Customer Experience and different strategies that airline executives might use in order to achieve true and long-lasting passenger loyalty. Air travel has never been as competitive as it is now, thus aviation really needs to fully grasp the importance of customer experience.

As always, I welcome any suggestions, questions and interactions from you and would be happy to chat more about it if anybody would like to get more information how to gain loyalty from air travellers.

Written by Julian Lukaszewicz, (ACE) Airtravel Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

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