Category Archives: Inspirational

Something that made us think. Something that made us smile. Something that motivated to be better.

FS CX Special: 3 interviews with CX leaders in financial services

I write a series entitled, ‘CX leaders’ which has included number of CX practitioners. The selection criteria for the interview is simply companies, or CX leads within those organisations who have impressed me with their commitment to a customer-led approach.

I’ve covered a range of sectors, including financial services. There is inspiration to be found from talking with those who are pushing forward with a customer agenda in a world dominated by transactions. As the interviews featured in this FS special show customer experience is a great way to transcend from a customer transaction focus to a customer relationship culture.

Against a backdrop of FCA regulation, historical lack of consumer trust and the arrival of nimble ‘cloud’ inhabiting digital brands, the established FS brands have their work cut out to stay relevant. But as these three interviews show, FS has a lot to gain from an effective CX strategy.

Newcastle Building Society – interview with Stuart Fearn, Head of Customer Contact

Stuart explains how NBS review technology to understand how it helps customers before deciding whether its relevant and valuable to adopt.

“Our priority is to make it easy for our customers to deal with us and to create positive, memorable moments and connections.

Link to the full interview – CX Leaders: Newcastle Building Society

The Bank of Cyprus – interview with Scott Fleming, Chief Customer & Commercial Officer

As his job title suggests, the Bank of Cyprus see customer-led thinking as a key growth imperative. With a customer base spread across branch usage and online banking, BoC’s challenges are familiar to most in retail banking.

Scott highlights the key requirements and support needed to make customer experience a priority focus in a financial organisation, including KPI management and backing from the CEO.

Link to the full interview – CX Leaders: Bank of Cyprus

One Savings Bank – Interview with Stephen Plimmer, Head of Customer Strategy & Insight

I met Stephen at the FSF Marketing Effectiveness Awards where OSB had picked up the CX award we sponsored that year.

Their story is of interest to anyone with a specific product or demographic looking to broaden their reach further.

link to the full interview – CX Leaders: One Savings Bank

These three interviews highlight some of the challenges and solutions financial services brands are dealing with in order to pursue a more sustainable profit from committed and content customers.

If you would like to be, featured in our CX Leaders series please drop me a line.

If you’d like to understand more about the value of CX and how to apply it to your business, email christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com and we will forward details of how to ‘improve’, ‘prioritise’ and ‘lead’ with CX.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Lexden – The Customer Experience Practice

lexdengroup.com ¦ +44 1279 902205 ¦ @lexdengroup

Beware of the vanity project some parade as Customer Experience

‘Customer Experience’ is a very popular business expression these days. It features heavily in everything from boardroom agendas, to Amazon book lists, to the events & conference circuit to LinkedIn posts.

But what you must be careful of is making sure you are only reading content from sources connected to the right one of the two wildly different servings of customer experience which have emerged. One has a ‘gain for all’ motto, whilst the other a ‘gain for me’ sentiment.

The correct and healthy definition for CX is one that delivers value to clients and their customers and has been around since before ‘CX’ had a label. It is expressed (broadly) as follows:

“The value created from the sum of the interactions between a customer and company throughout the term of their relationship”

Those providing support services to clients seeking to improve their CX focus on helping companies to identify what matters most to their customers and how to improve the associated experience to attract an increasing level of positive commitment from customers on a sustainable basis.

And there are a myriad of great books (see below), helpful practitioners guidance notes and insightful case studies to fuel your CX thinking if you chose not to engage the better CX advisory companies now established. These are penned and provided by some great practitioners who happily stay in the wings; client-side or consultants, recognising the solutions are the true heroes and they are the enablers.

Accepting CX evolves and everything from customer expectations to the way it’s measured updates with it, are the hallmarks of progressive and proactive professionals in CX. We’ve found being connected with an elite number of practitioners, professionals and professors in CX keeps us up to date and always seeking a higher ground (if you are wed to an old model or measure or machine, you have to keep flogging it even if the metaphorical horse has already died).

This is an inclusive approach where the collective create gains for clients and customers alike dominate. Customer comes first.

I was approached to write a book on CX. In response to which I pointed out the set below – explaining there are enough good books out there covering many angles. What more could be said?The effort should be on the application of wisdom now. Then let’s regroup and review the scripts.
So it’s very important to avoid the second definition of customer experience:

“The value created by often lesser qualified individuals or companies using CX primarily as a means to create financial gain”

Sadly this has led to many mediocre books, second rate speakers (poor content overpowered by questionable delivery style) and case studies (without the context connected).

These serve the providers and presenters well, feeding egos and appearance euros in equal measure. But they are nothing more than re-purposed content often featuring outdated, re-purposed or unsubstantiated ‘observations’ from others.

But it’s getting easier to spot these pretenders from the true professionals.

CX is an evolving discipline and many of the conventional ideas, models and measures have now been proven to be less reliable and damaging. But like a one hit wonder pop star, it’s too much of a challenge for these podium players, UX Unicorns, digital dinasours, solution serpents and other ‘CX pretenders’ to evolve. They have built their fortunes on a back catalogue, and struggle to adapt to new material.

Their advice and soundbites may quench the thirst before an all day conference break and even taste good compared to the buffet lunch but they will prove difficult to digest and ultimately add little to no substance, leaving your corporation still hungry for sense and success, but a little lighter in the pocket.

So how can you tell the good from the bad? It’s quite simple beware of those putting ME and US into CUSTOMER. Now we’ve shared the signs, you’ll spot them every time you pick up a CX book, click open a webinar, pay to hear a speaker or scan an article on customer experience. 

But if you are unsure simply challenge their value with these,

  • ‘Does it put the customer first?’
  • ‘Will it improve our customer’s experience?’
  • ‘Does everyone gain from the experience?’
  • Can you substantiate the claim?
  • Can you explain what happened before, what was the catalyst and how did you measure the change?

If the answers are yes, keep consuming!

The other way to spot a pretender is they will typically start their presentation with a story about the customer experience they endured en route to the event. Commonly known as the ‘a funny thing happened to me on the way here’ syndrome. Ironically, it never did.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, fan of progressive and productive CX which inspires practitioners and delivers gains to clients by generating genuine value for their customers.

LexdenGroup.com

 

The soundtrack to our CX lives

It was only a matter of time before someone pulled together this ridiculous notion. So I thought, why not me. I often dive into popular culture forms to find examples of the outcome or process I wish to convey. Which got me thinking, what would a customer experience programme sound like if it was set to music? Each track links to Youtube should you wish to enjoy the full surround sound blog experience. Alternatively, click here for the full playlist as one.

So with that in mind, here is the set up and launch of a Customer Experience programme soundtrack – I told you it was ridiculous. By the way, this is cast around my limited knowledge of music, so if you feel there are better tracks to convey how things evolve as the CX matures, then please comment with the stage and your suggest track.

Stage 1 – Unawareness so Nothing Ever Happens 

That surreal time when customers complained unheard,  fell away because of unattended problems and the hero was the sale. A time when models such as ‘pathway to purchase’ misinformed budget allocation. Call centres acknowledged customer frustration, but unless execs could see it directly impacted the here and now sales figure, ‘Nothing Ever Happens’. From Del Amitiri, and released in 1989, this protest song about not taking responsibility for improving things for society (or in our case customers), I feel captures that time where as a CX leader you knew there was a better way, but history kept repeating itself whilst customers defected or stayed through apathy or lack of choice.

Stage 2 – Madness (from a fresh perspective)

Perhaps the break though came when a piece of customer insight on the value of experience is shared internally either with your own, or borrowed insights. These show that the value economy had shifted from products and services to experiences. Enabled by an array of technologies, market entry and rapid growth meant super brands arrived in months with slicker smarter and more engaging experiences. Many retailers have fallen and at best those who survived have seen the standards of experience delivery expectation rise as customers no longer see as much value in the conventional differentiation points as they once did. Indeed, the economic value of a company’s worth has moved to how the customer experience is delivered before, during and after the transaction.

At this stage, with this CX idea in mind, a few brave souls embark upon a journey of enlightenment to discover ‘what matters most to our customers’. Data highlighting the performance of the experience endured by customers supported by customer verbatim feedback on why it’s important creates the conversation around investment prioritisations and ways of working. But the gathering of the right data (such as measures to identify what actually drivers customer behaviour), the understanding of what it means, and wrestling with the realisation of how far impacting across everything the company does it stretches could give you a headache. You could even say it was a time of Madness.

Path A (embracing customer experience) or Path B (resisting a customer-led approach)

We are at a junction here. Not all take path A. The evidence and the data can be overwhelming and challenging for some to understand. Especially if the excuse of regulatory change or short term sales cycles are also on the agenda. This is where, some take path B even though it feels right to start with, it will become an uncomfortable journey full of technology delays and IT contractors. This is the path of ‘digital-first’ or ‘mobile-first’ or ‘AI-first’ or ‘VoC first’ (you get the picture) where gathering the insight to find problems outweighs consideration of it’s value. With the sales pitch of chrome brushed applications, speed of light turnaround promises and ‘go-to-market’ capability, the IT priority list becomes clogged with new ‘customer’ requests. But don’t forget this in a world where often the customer isn’t seen as an asset. At the town hall, the CEO is sending his people down path B too, ‘if we don’t have an app that customers can use and buy through, we wont have any customers.’ To the preacher it feels like ‘putting customers first’, but as their soundtrack would show it’s a long, long winding road with no particular place to go. They are inevitably on the road to nowhere (another blog perhaps).

So back to the more exciting Path A

Stage 3 – The Impossible Dream

So back to the Path A followers and with a USB stick full of customer interviews, perhaps a few AS IS journey maps and evidence of how short-term sales advantages erode value in the customer relationship, a story of a better way can be sketched. A story which dares to dream to judge the company’s purpose and prioritisation against one question, ‘do we add value to the customer?’

With the right playbook, storyboard, video showreel or whatever high impact media format you choose, this should be that moment when your customer and market insight is presented in a way that the boards’ only question is, ‘why haven’t we done this before?’. You need to think big, but bring others with you to ‘dream the impossible dream’ too. As Matt Monroe told us. It’s a moment of truth for the budding CX leader so you don’t under invest in this one wrong.

 

Stage 4 – Absolute Beginners

Whilst companies been delivering products and services to customers for hundreds of years, as they have become commodities, Customer Experience is where customers place value. So those leading the CX Strategy and Transformation have to forget much of their ingrained ways of working and rebuild process, practices, people skills, platforms and propositions (to name a few) with a very different source of ‘value’ in mind. And although many of the tasks are the same, such as gathering insight, what you ask, how, when and the interpretation requirements are very different.

KPI’s are redesigned to drive value for the customer, not extract value from the customer. In fact, whilst the company has been historically been marketing itself to its customers, this is a time where the customer must be marketed to the business to get stakeholders on board.

Taking time to work through the strategy, requires diligence and rigour. Getting it right here is critical. Quite often those who start the CX strategy aren’t around to see it come to fruition. That’s not such a bad thing. It’s a very different set of skills needed to reshape ways of working and win over execs than it is to drive through innovations and creative improvements.

At Lexden, we use an award-winning academic stud underpinning a CX Capability Assessment tool which enables a company to benchmark its current CX set-up against 1,100 brands, across 40+ business activities identified as proficient among the best of which achieve 600% ROI from their CX. This enables any company to understand what value they are achieving from their Customer Experience Strategy. It also highlight where attention is needed across the CX critical dependency points and in what order – the head start you need.

Getting the right stakeholders onside is easier with a strategy and programme aligned to a successful CX blueprint. As David Bowie sings in his anthemic Absolute Beginners track, ‘if my love is your love, we are certain to succeed’.

Stage 5 – See for Miles

Getting the Customer Experience vision agreed provides clarity of the expectations of the business and more importantly adoption that creating customer value is a business model to create sustainable profits.

To achieve this, the foundation must be the customer insight which identify what matters most to customers in terms of what drives customer behaviour drivers (to secure more of their share of category). These drivers (scientifically proven drivers if you choose to use EXQ)  are fused with the brand values to create a unique set of Customer Standards. These provide the organisation with an accessible and relevant framework for all employees to review their role and actions against and ensure internally and customer facing improvements are consistent.

They are energised by an overarching Customer Experience vision; the poster boy/girl of the cultural change. This becomes the reference name (hopefully at the top) on the board agenda. When underpinned with a sound customer experience programmes covering the five pillars of CX Management; measurement, culture, challenges, process management and governance.

Now it’s all in place, we can dare to dream with a vision and a road map to take us there. The calm before the storm where you can see for miles and miles ahead of you as The Who remind us.

Stage 6 – Rush hour

With the permission to fail, underpinning governance, budget to upgrade data sources, dedicated personnel and a vision to create value for the customer, we are off! But there is so much still unknown so the first 6-12 months are frantic. It’s like a corporate rush hour. As each ‘AS IS’ customer journey is mapped, more data gaps and embarrassing breaks in the journey are unearthed. Individuals dash-off to repair their mistakes, the digital team can run very fast and new ideas become reality and are launched.

It’s a time where discipline is needed. You need appointed ambassadors to help manage the pace. The CX activities such as Customer Journey Mapping and Improvement Ideation need stewardship by the CX team in collaboration with areas of the business, a measurement of progress is set* and prioritisation is aligned to what matters most to customers and gives the greatest advantage gain.

* Beware of sinking most of the CX budget into a customer feedback systems at this stage. Systems which gives a performance number linked to something which doesn’t correlate to profit. At this stage setting a CSAT or Recommendation figure to acheive will become a road to ruin. Verbatim doesn’t need to come in torrents through every data touch point. And don’t forget, any feedback platform you add becomes part of the experience, not just a measurement of it. If customers feedback and you can’t keep up with the pace of improvement, your customers will think less of you.

You will also need a prioritisation model for improvements. We use EXQ (Experience Quality Measurement) which is 25 customer behaviour drivers which have been proven (1,100 case studies) to account for 90% of customer’s decision-making. If introduced as the foundation layer of customer insight, at this stage it’s well established as the ‘customer truth’ and priorities can be aligned to the incremental gain they will achieve. 

Put ‘customer value’ at the wheel (to paraphrase Jane Wiedlin), enjoy the rush hour because it becomes clearer with the customer’s value as your goal.

Stage 7 – Don’t stop me now

So now all in the business involved, the right customer insights driving decision-making and priority improvement calls are being rewarded with greater customer share of category commitment as a result.

If at this stage customer experience is set up as a growth strategy, then progress will be made. The Vanguards of CX enjoy 600% ROI, but only 3% of organisations are classed like this (according to studies by Dr Prof Phil Klaus).

With successes behind you, growth opportunities to build improves experiences, a road map pointing to sustainable competitive advantage and colleagues who feel good and are rewarded for adding customer value, nothing will stop you now. There is the momentum an purpose felt in Queen’s high energy, ‘Don’t stop me now’ track. And who dare to!

Stage 8 – Perfect Day

Everything is aligned around adding value to the customer. At a strategic level the continued success and growth mean business planning and customer management processes are now revised to focus on adding value to the customer.

Listening systems are in place so feedback informs what needs further improvement and why. And with commercial and data analysts on board, any improvement can be measured against new agreed customer performance measures.

In this world of CX, new recruits, both employees and customer mention CX as a reason for joining. The experience as a consideration on their decision-making. The CEO asks whose idea it was to become customer-centric and the response is, ‘all of us’. And you find your transformation story is wanted by the HBR or similar for a CX Case study – What a perfect day, Lou Reed.

Stage 8 – Happy ever after – Lovely Day

As long as the CX team are focused on helping the business driving value for customer, CX is a long and sustainable strategy. It becomes a new way of working.

Keep CX positioned as a growth opportunity. Keep listening to customers. Keep understanding what matter most to them. Keep ensuring the business knows it’s purpose is to fulfill these. Keep highlighting where the organisation can work harder to meet and exceed customers expectations in a more motivating (on brand) way than the competitors.

From here on every day should be a lovely day. Everyday is a Lovely day thereafter.

So there we go, from start to a continuous non-end, my soundtrack to our CX lives. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey and maybe listened to a track or two as well? Do you agree? If you’ve got a better soundtrack thought for any of the stages, I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s only a bit of fun. But that’s important in CX too.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Consultant, Lexden (London)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Why we need to rethink how we measure Customer Experience

There’s a rage of words between Ryanair and anyone measuring their Customer Satisfaction which presents a different score to what they believe it is.

Which! have a 52% rating for Ryanair. PA Consulting have them pegged even lower. Whereas Rate My Trip has a 92% customer satisfaction rating. Ryanair understandably support Rate My Trips’ poll.

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But forget the squabbling, the real enemy here is the lack of understanding of how customer satisfaction is calculated and inconsistency in collating and measuring customer satisfaction across sectors.

We all love Which! I was a subscriber for years, often checking the best product options (sadly often after I made the purchase). Which! has more proportion of their measure accounted for by price related criteria than other studies such as award winning behavioural based EXQ which has found it to be much lower in studies.

Often a suite of criteria are presented with equal importance (again EXQ has identified that is never the case). These measures are then wrapped up and badged as overall Customer Satisfaction. So it seems what Customer Satisfaction is often whatever the organisation using it wants it to be.

This isn’t unique to Ryanair. I’ve met numerous insight managers who do not agree with the criteria used by others to measure their performance.

If you asked a customer what the criteria should be and how much weighting to apply to their situation, I am sure you would receive back as many combinations as customers asked.

But many consumers place high value on these satisfaction measures in their choice criteria, assuming they are all the same. But the are usually unaware of the wide and varied ways companies collate and grade customer satisfaction.

‘Satisfaction’ as a measure of performance also provides an unreliable indicator for companies to track, according to studies completed by Prof. Dr Phil Klaus, world leading academic on customer experience. No one said it was an indication of profit, but many companies do share CSAT at board level assuming if it goes up, so the company will be more profitable.

Ryanair could be the most profitable short haul carrier around but have the lowest satisfaction rating. If they operate a budget airline then something has got to give. In their case it’s the experience of the customer. Is it sustainable? Perhaps yes. This year’s poor Customer Service has delivered a 20% increase in share price YoY for Ryanair. No one states you have to be nice to your customers.

So Customer Experience practitioners should be cautious about  presenting Customer Satisfaction increases as a sign of business profitability improvement. In the Wealth Management and Private Banking sector studies show those topping the customer satisfaction polls are way off the pace when it comes to corporate profitability rankings.

Affected behavioural change is a very reliable measurement approach because it’s an ‘actual’. Whereas satisfaction is a measure of a customer’s sentiment at a moment in time. Similarly, NPS measures an intention to be actioned. They do not reflect what customer’s are or will actually do. Measuring the impact of a behaviour change is an actual.

We can measure CX impact on behavioural change, so why do companies prioritise satisfaction?

It’s an easy one to put to customers. They get it. However, if you discuss the concept of ‘context’  capturing customer satisfaction, most admit they struggle to associate satisfaction with anything more than the here and now they are asked about.

So if a purchase went well the customer might feedback a high score. However, if part of that transaction was the reassuring returns policy which then turns out to be useless, they cant go back and correct transaction moment score even though it was influenced by the perception of the returns policy.

VoC platform providers like satisfaction as well. It’s a one question solution. It’s easy. It’s relatively unchallenged. It can be asked across channels and compared between journeys, segments and other variables. It’s a commercially viable currency for them.

Is there a more accountable measure available?

There is a much more reliable customer experience measure. One which presents 90% accountability of what CX drives customer’s decisions. One which has been proven to be 90 times more reliable than CSAT and NPS in identifying what drives customer’s decisions. One which would enable both Which! to reflect more accurately the complex set of criteria customers use to inform decisions and is based on ‘actual’ contribution to the company rather than a sentiment score such as satisfaction.

This measure is known as Experience Quality Measure (EXQ). It’s not widely known about because it’s an academics measure for customer experience. We found it a few years ago and now find it fascinating. Academics are interested in discovering the truth rather than headline scores so it’s a more ‘spikey’ data set to work with, but so much more informative. !0 years or so a group of academics agreed CSAT and NPS weren’t reflective of the truth, with a less than 1% reliability of customer’s actual decision making being attributed back to scores provided on these measures, so the pursuit of a more accountable measure led to the creation of the award winning EXQ.

It was identified there are 300 drivers which influence 100% of our decision making. It’s complex. But further studies discovered over 90% of decisions can be identified through just 25 of these drivers. At this level it becomes a study to be put to customers, as we have now done several times. 

What does EXQ deliver?

  • Identifies which customer experiences matter most to customers decision making
  • Highlights the importance of each of these drivers (typically 8-9 drivers account for 66% of decision making)
  • Identify the customer experiences companies deliver which have almost no impact on customer’s decision making – creating immediate opportunities for saving
  • Because we collate ‘share of category’ decision making we can highlight how your score benchmarks to your competitors and what drivers that is based on. This provides an indication of true differentiation, as perceived by your customers. As well as expected experiences for the sector
  • Provide cross-border comparisons to enable groups to make truly global customer  comparisons
  • We use an award winning academic research designed to get the truth of customer experience
  • It’s a one off study which is not reliant on tech platforms so can be delivered in 6 weeks
  • It’s a study and not a tech solution, so the cost is comparable to a few focus groups

In EXQ studies we have run with clients, we highlight the 25 most important customer experience behavioural drivers. What is often surprising to clients is that what really matters most to customers is very different to the areas the company has invested it’s marketing budget on. The decision is then whether to accept the new insight and rethink the strategic choices they make or to bury it and pretend it never happened and hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them. We’ve run studies where both outcomes have played out!

EXQ is not for the faint hearted, but it is for those driving for successful in CX. Studies have been run with over 1,100 companies around the globe which highlight the best performing EXQ companies achieve a 600% ROI from CX. Although only 3% achieve this.

For more on EXQ click the link below. Or contact Christopher Brooks at Lexden to find out how with just 6 weeks (and a fraction of the cost of CSAT) you can have a CX which will refocus your CX efforts around ‘what matters most’ to your customers and what drives your bottom line.

If you are considering this option, it might be worth undertaking a ‘comparison’ study using EXQ to identify what really drives profitability. EXQ can also informs what customer behavioural drivers deliver CSAT and NPS scores – which can be most revealing. This time in two months you can have the answer for the equivalent of a months VoC running costs.

But it EXQ isn’t for you, when it comes to measuring CX be sure that 1) it reflects what’s important to your customers decision making and 2) you are certain of the impact on profit of chasing CX targets.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Consultant, Lexden (London)

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.

 

How small Customer Experience steps make a big difference

Most of the time I spend on Customer Experience is focused on helping clients design effective  customer experience programmes to drive profit through adding customer value. However, I never cease to be amazed at how much of a lasting impression small experience gestures have on me.

Why does small count so much?

When I look back at these scenarios, there is a common thread. They typically occur when I’m least expecting it and have the ability to change my emotional state. The direction of which is from neutral or negative to positive.

They come about when there is an unexpected block to fulfilling my intention or things work unreasonably against me. These aren’t points of pain, but moments of truth because each company has managed to create an experience between me and the brand which has stuck with me.

Also, these are quite unremarkable and low interest moments of a customer’s journey, but they’ve been turned into more than that.

Is small cheap too?

Whilst I don’t think either of these examples featured cost that much to install, I’d like to think the way in which it’s delivered is coded, guided by strong Customer Standards. I have found this the most successful method for rapid, widespread and welcomed adoption of Customer Experience in an organisation. Importantly, it helps remove inconsistency because a badly delivered small experience can back fire and trivialise the customer’s primary requirement

#1 Halfords make good from a bad situation

I collected my bike from the station one evening after work to discover the back light had been taken (I normally remove it but forgot on this occasion). It was dark so I wheeled it through our high street to Halfords. I took my bike in and explained what happened. The shop assistant pointed me to the ‘lights section’ empathising with my story and reminding me to remove my lights in future. I paid for the light and was about to leave. He then stopped me, looked at my front tyre and put on a missing valve cover saying that will help keep my tyres inflated. By taking that extra concern for me, he lifted my spirits too.

#2 Abellio take control and save the day

I often find the train company I use has plenty friction points, largely due to the hugely complex nature of running a train company. I get that, and often accept it. When you travel a standard route in a standard way, things normally work out okay. But on this occasion I’d had a call from a contact who was flying in to Stansted airport and wanted to meet me. I was at  Liverpool Street Station at the time but only had a return ticket home which was two few stops before Stansted.

I tried to figure out what to do on the ticket machine to buy an extension to my journey. But with only a couple of minutes until the next train, I was failing. I then noticed a ‘call me’ button. I called out of desperation because I thought I’d miss my train.  A voice came from beyond the machine and I explained what I needed and how short the time I had. The operator then took control of my screen and navigated through a complicated series of steps to get to the ticket I needed.

It worked out as £4 rather than than £15 I’d arrived at, and within a few seconds, so I caught my train and made my meeting. All the time thinking, wow, thank Abellio, you made this happen.

Never let the small moments pass by. Make them count in a brand differentiated way.

Posted by Chistopher Brooks, Customer Consultant, Lexden (London)

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.

 

Make the difference to your Customer Experience with Lexden’s CX Game

There was a piece of research from e-consulting that showed CX was perceived to be the most fun area of business to be involved in. Whether you are putting a smile on the customers face every day or helping the CEO understand the correlation between fulfilling experiences that matter and profitability, you can see how the argument stacks up. Positive outcomes create contentment all round.

We are involved across all areas of customer experience; helping improve clients CX endeavours when others have left things a little unravelled or working up from a blank sheet to create CX strategies which shift a company’s focus from product to customer centric, right through to designing and building employee engagement board games!

Yes, you read that correctly. I didn’t expect it would be something we would need to do as CX consultants, but now it’s built, clients have played it and improvements have been created, it has become one of our favourite CX activities.

Why a CX board game?

We was providing CX support to a leading hotel group. Each of their three hundred plus hotels received a continuous slice of VoC guest feedback. But it wasn’t always easy to engage employees at each hotel to review and act on what they received.

To engage and create resulting action we devised a format to ensure the hotels received a more ‘digestible’ format they could enjoy reviewing and would work together to create better outcomes for guests.

After some consideration and discussions with specialists in fun, we came up with the board game format evoking childhood memories of fun, relaxation and curiosity – the combination we needed to get different members of staff from across the functions of the hotel to gel together.

The idea being that colleagues from across the hotel could come together (during breaks or team training slots), review the big issues and use the game mechanic to arrive at better outcomes. For the hotel the concept was ‘checking guests in, being served with a problem and then devising solutions based on the proven ideation techniques we provided’.

The solutions would then be approved by other players (representing the guests) and put in to practice at the hotel. The results would be shared with other hotels across EMEA using a shared digital platform.

Over the years since we first played the CX Game in Brussels, we’ve rebranded the CX Game, for several companies including insurers, universities, banks and pharma brands (often without the digital sharing capability). Many have found the game play format perfect for bringing back office colleagues along the CX journey. 

So it’s a unique concept format for each company. For more information, please forward your details

The CX Game in summary

  • Use clients own customer feedback (VoC) data issues (although we can also use award winning behaviour change data if clients need a reliable data source)
  • Include customer facing and back office staff
  • Branded game format
  • Used to fix specific problems
  • Use the same format to create customer or colleague improvements
  • Act as a catalyst to create customer personas and customer standards
  • Produce actionable and measurable customer improvements
  • 1 hour duration to engage colleagues in understanding the value of customer-led thinking

As mention, we have also developed and delivered successfully a version for employees who are not connected to the customer. They bring their business challenges instead of customer challenges to the meeting and we use a similar set of techniques to create solutions which customers would approve of. It’s a great way of introducing colleagues from across the business to customer experience. It also serves as a great ‘problem solving’ format for any team away day.

Game playing time is now referred to ‘SPARK sessions’ following one participants comment that it had at last ignited the connection between their back office role and it’s impact on the end customer. We also run ‘trainer’ sessions with ‘Pass it on’ packs for those attending to take away and cascade the knowledge to their colleagues.

The competitive gaming session intentionally only last 60 minutes to keep the energy levels up. This can be accompanied by a ‘The value of CX’ interactive workshop. This introduces participants to the difference between the danger of making functionally better customer experience without incorporating branded distinction.

Customer Standards, the magic ingredient for success with CX

As an extra ingredient, we can use CX behavioural change driver research (award winning academic research accounting for 90% of customer decision making. These are validated with stakeholders and customers and then designed as an accessible set of Customer Standards to help colleagues’ prioritise and direct decision-making in favour of achieving the right customer outcomes. This engenders confidence from senior leaders that any decision (internal or external) will be seen as valued by customers, and differentiated to competitors. We have found this is the smartest way to get employees from all areas of the business on-board with branded customer experience.

Client feedback on Lexden’s The CX Game has been great

The outcome is always the same: employees empathise with customers, understand the impact their actions have on customers, take ownership of improving the situation and drive the change through from their role profile.

Clients have expressed their satisfaction with the format and we find it delivers the value of branded CX more effectively than any town hall, video or presentation can. We’ve had some great feedback:

  • “Really enjoyed the whole approach – especially important we got to be hands on”
    PM Community Manager, Transformation & Change
  • “Good interactive sessions had been created to stretch the mind and really think about what customer standards means in your own world”
    Interim Head of Internal Communications
  • “Very interactive and fun way of learning… quality of materials was very high. Reinforced our responsibility for all being advocates of customer thinking”
    Head of Audit

  • “I thought the approach was great. A breath of fresh air what with the level of engaging multimedia, inclusive group activity and fun focused on what I found to be a very useful framework. All transformation should aim to be like that.”
    Solicitor, Treasury & Corporate Legal
  • “I thoroughly enjoyed the session and would encourage the bank to hold more engaging sessions such as this on other topics in the future”
    Financial Accountant, Financial Control
  • “I really enjoyed the session and gained comfort from the fact that we could all see where we add value to the customer in the work we do”
    Analysis & Build Lead, IT Relationship and Change
  • “I really enjoyed the sessions …and I want to conduct it for my Teams”
    Business Readiness Manager

If this has been of interest, why not find out more?

We can provide the CX Game as a finished product for you to use with your colleagues, or we can facilitate groups from 4-200 gaming sessions or training.

If the Customer Standards are of interest as well, we can share much more on the thinking and the difference applying Customer Standards in Customer Experience can have on the potential for sustained commitment by all to CX. As well as successful formats which have been applied.

For more please information, please contact Christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com

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

Highlights from the 2017 Manchester Customer Experience Conference

With over 60 CX events available each year, why did I choose to attend the Customer Experience Conference in Manchester and what did I learn?

With some events, you know what you are going to get. Such as those run by tech vendors, who show case their tech stack as the CX silver bullet. Or the key notes from the ‘professional CX speaker’ circuit, who preach non-practised rhetoric. So, it’s important, considering how much they cost, to find ones which offer fresh content from a broad range of company perspectives I feel.

Why I chose the Manchester CX Conference  

It was this diverse range of promised case studies that initially attracted me to the September CX Event in Manchester. Among others, Virgin Trains, eBay, British Gas, Atom Bank and Leeds Rhinos were on the bill. I knew from this selection I would hear about battles in the board room and fantastic frontline improvements. In addition, I always look for an excuse to visit Manchester which is a firm favourite city of mine. And being a consultant, it was refreshing to see an affordable priced ticket for non-clients.

So, I got up at 4.30am and set off to Manchester with my note book in hand ready to capture some pearls of wisdom. The first speaker was the Head of CX from Virgin Trains, so as I boarded their 6.45am I wondered if I’d arrive on time and in good shape, or would I be raging having endured a miserable trip. VT didn’t let me down. I arrived at the conference hotel in time for coffee and croissants, laid out by the organiser in the middle of the now customary sponsored vendor’s baiting arena!

The hall was full and John Lewis’s Head of Contact Centre Operations kicked off proceedings with exemplary professionalism.

What I learnt at the Manchester CX Conference

We were off with several client presentations following in quick succession. Some were brutally honest and revealing whilst others skimmed over edited highlights. But scattered among the day were several gems which made the day valuable to attend.

eBay, Atom Bank and Virgin Trains presentations stuck in my mind as insightful and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Leeds Rhino’s CX presenters put passion in their pitch.

My five CX take outs from the day were:

  1. Some are losing faith with Net Promoter Score and its unreliable correlation with the commercial drivers of the business. With one highlighting the move to a more accountable ‘behaviour’ measure proving more insightful. That said many are still pegging everything to it
  2. The CX tech stack is still seen as an unwieldly However, some are shunning expensive platforms from gold plated sales reps opting for self-built solutions or using ‘free to use’ cloud based off the shelf set-ups to some effect
  3. Getting the CEO onside to drive CX is still critical. One organisation cited how they used to ignore customers until the new CEO arrived, who is customer obsessed and things have now changed
  4. Artificial Intelligence is proving a distracting for some who have more fundamental improvements to prioritise. The focus appeared to be on cost reduction rather than quality improvements. The issue of digital ethics was also raised in consideration of chat bots. Should companies declare to customers they are trying to kid them into believing they are talking to a human?
  5. Understanding how to engage other stakeholders with conflicting objectives is important to break down silo barriers. Which all agree is essential to move forward with CX.

Overall it was an enjoyable day. I heard passionate people talk, met a couple of interesting practitioners over coffee, caught up with vendors on what client challenges they are facing and heard much from the speakers to reaffirm our own methods and models we provide to clients are still at the front of the pack.

It was a shame Shopping Direct, Barclays, BooHoo and RBS from the originally advertised programme didn’t show. Even without these the organisers managed to run over time!

I got home about 8pm from the 16-hour round trip, making it a tiring day in search of fresh CX insight. The following day we ran an all-day planning session with a new client appointment’s team, so I was glad to have prepped beforehand and grab an early night.

Attending an event is a big commitment, both in terms of time and cost, so it must be worthwhile. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. The reality is it will be when you are in an improvement session or journey mapping months later that you will reach in to the memory banks and pluck out the relevant example you heard from that day at an event, making the value of attending conferences difficult to quantify.

On reflection, I gained.

With over 60 events every year in CX, keeping up with what’s on is hard enough, let alone picking the best ones.  If you want to know what’s on email christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com and I’ll email you the FREE listing of 2017 Global CX Conference and Event we’ve compiled to help others.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director of Lexden, Customer Experience Consultants.

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. 

How bottled water, fresh fruit and Ipads build a more emotive Customer Experience

I was judging at the FS CX awards last week. Each year the standard and the activation ideas improve. With some significant developments such as retail banks shifting from business discipline silos to customer journey org structures and others ditching CSAT and other measures in exchange for measuring their ability to fulfil ‘what matters to customers’.

It was a day of inspiration. And being a day time judging and dinner event, I returned home by Greater Anglia train at a reasonable time, stopping at Tesco to pick up some provisions on my way home. At the event, the passion, the performance and the future potential of the finalists impressed me. But so did Greater Anglia and Tesco in their own small way too.

Reflecting on what I’d heard at the event I realised that for all the strategically sound structure and progressive programming, it was the emotionally engaging stories of how customer-led thinking had resulted in a betterment for customers which were staying with me. Especially because the organisations believed it would mean they would retain the heart and the purse of the customer.

It’s the same when I think about the ever increasing number of ‘professional’ speakers on the CX circuit, for all their philosophy without practice experience, it is their emotionally connecting self stories of CX that stick.

With the right framework to ensure ‘what matters most and when’ is prioritised, and is designed consistent to amplify the strength of the brand across all experience activity, any organisation can create it’s own set of low cost, emotionally engaging experiences which customers value, and motivate colleagues.

Here are three which I encountered on the aforementioned day of judgement:

1. Greater Anglia offering bottles of water, for free, to help passengers with the sustained spell of warm weather. It might not have been their idea and it might be an investment to minimise the impact of not being able to deal with dehydrated customers, but leaving cynicism at the ticket gate if I may, this is a lovely gesture.

Whilst not own-able I accept, it doesn’t need to be. It just fulfils a need for a customer, whose route to work is ingrained, they probably only think about refreshment on a hot day when they are half way there.

2. Tesco offering free fruit to children of shoppers. I recall a few years ago working with the Tesco group, before CX really took hold. They were attempting to reaffirm their difference through hundreds of small improvements to the customers experience. Some we see, such as this, others are more operational but help customers in the long run.

So whilst this could be Every Little Helps #147, it stands out because of the benefit to parents, who often need a pacifier for children in store and feel guilty about serving up sweet treats and the children (and from what i can see in our store it’s working) who still seek a distracting pacifier to keep them occupied, but now have one which is good for them. Which in turn is good for the parents soul too.

3. GI provider discovers speaking to the grand kids on Facebook comes before rebuilding the house. I am sure this is becoming common place practice with Home insurance providers, but it’s great when you hear it being delivered all the same. When treated as a standard insurance claim, customers are taken care of through a logical but generic risk management process with steps to put people who encounter a flood or a fire, back to the position they were in before it occurred. That’s what insurance does after all.

Typically the big things like temporary accommodation and assessing what’s damaged are the first steps to be undertaken. But that’s often not what is on the customer’s mind. If you ask them, ‘what do you want done first?’ it’s a more personal and human request pertinent to the life and behaviours they’ve established. For instance, the example I heard was a couple whose house had been impacted had wanted a replacement Ipad because the highlight of their week is a Sunday catch up with their grandchildren in Australia.

I’ve gathered quite a catalogue of these small improvements on my travels. If you have your own, please comment below, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director of Lexden, Customer Experience Consultants.

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. 

 

 

Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_stockbroker’>stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

What are the hot topics on the CX Event agenda this year?

From what I heard, ‘It´s (still) about the emotions and the figures’

Speaking to various participants and listening to the key note speeches at Germany’s CX Forum 2017 earlier this month, I tried as always to get a sense of ‘the’ questions which are driving the CX scene here in Germany.

There was no surprise that the responses are highly dependent on the CX maturity level of the companies involved. But priority points most often heard were:

  • How do I prove and link figures to CX activities?
  • How do I get the ‘people’ on board?

Our own experience with assignments across Europe echoes these two points as well. it seems conventional thinking on what is a sound measure of CX and some of the ‘lean’ style transformation programme approaches adopted for customer experience have created problems for organisations hoping to progress with CX.

Why is this?

One reason is many companies settle for a measure which is easy to obtain and simpler to report when it comes to CX. So whilst the business is interested in what drives profit, the CX team is reporting how many customers (say they) are promoting the business? Evidence from studies conducted by Dr Prof Phil Klaus (Author: Measuring Customer Experience) show a less than 1% correlation between ‘recommend’ measures and profit. Not the sort of weapon you want to take in to the boardroom when it comes to justifying CX investment!

The good news is that we are finding many are waking up to the value of the right CX measures and the investment in cultural change required to support CX.

And more good news: B2B companies are now asking for the applicability and best practice for their businesses when it comes to CX. The top 10 messages shared are not new, but probably cannot be repeated often enough for new entrants into CX, and as reminders for the converted:

  1. Make sure you have your sponsor on-board and understanding the commercial potential from CX
  2. Measure, measure, measure what matters to customers – but what CX drives behaviour change as well as inference and sentiment (such as NPS and CSAT)
  3. CX, like all strategic imperatives, takes time to establish, normalise and create return. It is a journey of discovery for organisations with several steps to take before reaching ‘the land of unicorns’ (quote Stefan Osthaus)
  4. Stop over surveying. Feedback fatigue is a modern virus. Start watching more.
  5. Bring CEOs in contact with the real world in creative ways (Samsung’s channel: Email to CEO is a great example of this)
  6. Don’t forget we measure for the ‘why’ not the ‘how many’ verbatim from CX are a much more valuable source for improvement than a score of -3 or +28.
  7. Involve your people and take care of them like you take care of your customers. employee experience is not a nice to have, it’s a fundamental. Colleagues who feel the value of CX, deliver the value of CX.
  8. Use methodology and techniques like customer journey mapping for a structured approach. It’s amazing how many organisations map the customer journey from a ‘how it impacts our process’ perspective. Start with the customer problem, to arrive at a better outcome overall.
  9. Know your customer before starting other effort – not demographically but what makes them tick, what drives their choices and what fulfils them. Think ZMET.
  10. Think digital but with the customer experience in mind – not the technology. Digital first is really modern customer first. Don’t sacrifice engagement for effortless or satisfaction for self-serve.

Events are great to get a sense of where your industry is in it’s growth. I went through a storm of mixed feelings during the day. In the morning, I was happy to see 170 participants name tags. Compared to last year there were more titles and roles included in Customer Experience.  it’s a great sign that CX has arrived in the organisational setup.

Having said that I went to the state of shock at the podium discussion in the of the day: Were they seriously arguing which department (!) was best to lead CX in companies?  Sad but true – in times of discussing agile working ‘old world’ is still out there. We still have many who just don’t get it or see CX as a new model for a quick buck – beware of these pretenders!

There were some other moments which connected with me emotionally:

  • I had admiration for the guy from ThinkPen with his great visualisations of the key notes. My brain and I just love that kind of communication.
  • I was amused about Prof. Heinemann who is the digital optimist and her entertaining ‘show’ after lunch on why digitalisation is no revolution but more yesterday’s news as it is out there everywhere already. Although quite a few companies in Germany still think it´s a buzz word and do not align it with the purpose of their business. Mmmh… not so amusing!
  • Respect for all the companies who have the courage to and share their learnings like Stepstone, even though they have just started
  • I was thankful for the openness during the sessions as well as the breaks. Once again I experienced the people who were very enthusiastic on the matter of CX and eager to learn and share.
  • And not to also thank the team from MaritzCX for pulling together this event in times where time is limited and precious. Nothing is more worthwhile then talking to others who are battling the same grounds.

And finally, a take away from Markus Nessler’s presentation on Samsung’s path to superior CX: Online Channels upfront are great but in the end the trend is clear: Customer still love personal contacts – CX is clearly a people business! And that’s from a world leader in technology.

There are many CX events throughout the year. Pick which ones you go to wisely. And be prepared to share if you want to learn.

Posted by Karin Glattes, MD & CX Consultant, Lexden (Germany)

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

 

 

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.