Category Archives: Strategic

Examples of ideas taken to market, methods or makers of great value propositions.

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.

 

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Is this the most fun you can have with Customer Experience?

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.

I’ve been involved across all areas of Customer Experience for most of my working life. From 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 reposition 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 I would need to do as a CX strategist, but now I’ve done it and clients have played it, it has become possibly my favourite part of customer experience. It has reaffirmed to me the significant difference in approach you find between a CX Consultant and a Management Consultant when it comes to CX effectiveness.

Why a CX board game?

Some years ago, I was providing CX consultancy to s leading hotel group. Each of their three hundred plus hotels received a continuous slice of Medallia customer feedback. But it wasn’t always easy to engage employees at each hotel to review and act on what they received. Especially when they had their own list of ‘asset’ issues to sort out.

So we devised a format to ensure the hotels received a more ‘digestible’ format of the insight. But they needed more to act upon it. The option was to visit each hotel to workshop the value of VoC and how to employ it to achieve better customers outcomes. However, this meant I’d be  on the road forever and may never see my family again!

Let the CX games commence!

I needed a format for engagement that didn’t rely upon an individual leading, but kept players together throughout. I spoke to contacts in the gaming world and I soon realised a remote digital solution was a death knell when it came to interactive game play like this.

It then came to me; a board game. As a child and as a parent I found good board games always maintained mine and others attention. I sat down and devised a board game which was focused on providing customer solutions using clients customer feedback data. The idea being that colleagues from across the hotel could come together (during breaks or team meet times), 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 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 micro-site we’d built. If those receiving hotels had the same issue, they got a prompt and could choose to save time and employ the idea too. And best of all it could be packaged up and sent to each hotel to run with instructions, but without me.

Lexden’s ‘Making a CX Difference’ board game was born. Over the years we’ve rebranded the game to whichever company is using it and the content and design play tweaked to suit their purpose. So it’s a unique concept format for each company.

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 has become known as the ‘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.

CX-DNA, our magic ingredient to success

The competitive gaming session intentionally only last 45 minutes to keep the energy levels up. This can be accompanied by a ‘What is CX-DNA?’ interactive workshop format we’ve developed. This introduces participants to the difference between the danger of customer experience parity and the advantage of branded customer experience distinction.

To get to this we apply an extra ingredient, which is very much to do with the end customer. As specialists in customer-led thinking, and using either our clients existing customer drivers sets or conducting our own CX behavioural change research as an input source, we identify what outcomes customers are looking to fulfil through the relationship with the brand and understand how to frame this as a set of Branded Customer Standards. These are unique to that company and their set of customers, so we call it CX-DNA.

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.

What do clients say about playing Lexden’s Customer Experience Game?

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 ‘Making a CX Difference’ board game as a finished product for you to use with your colleagues, or we can facilitate groups from 8-200 in 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

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.

Are we compromising customer experience in pursuit of customer feedback?

It used to be said consumers will see 5,000 (Walker-Smith) advertising messages every day. From how frequently I am asked I’m sure that number will soon be overtaken by ‘customer feedback requests’! I was at a CX event recently where one company alone claimed they had over 300 listening points! As customers we seem to be asked at every key stroke or foot step to provide feedback for one thing or another.

Is the purpose to better understand how to enhance the experience to fulfil known customer outcomes or to be tipped off about processes which weren’t fit for release? The question is will this use of feedback by companies to discover their own faults enhance the the overall customer experience or over time impair perceptions of the company?

I’ve heard it said, ‘but it’s feedback, that’s different to comms’. Organisations can’t afford to believe feedback systems are in a bubble and won’t impact the customer’s overall perception of their experience? Our evidence, from research and from helping companies caught in this space shows that whilst ‘being listened to’ is important to many customers (so much so it can be a driver of decision making), it still needs to be timely, measured and meaningfully executed if it is to be recognised and valued by customers. We once collated a number of feedback survey data sets for a client for analysis to discover that two of the top five reason for detractor scores were the quality and quantity of surveys received by customers!

Too often the brand experience is absent in VoC design. Like customer communications and brand activation, the voice of the customer presentation to the customer should be aligned to the brand value and visual identify, and most importantly adhere to the brand experience standards. However, the flexibility here is often limited by vendor platform capability which may be limited to a logo, colour palette or font change.

I saw an example recently where the company’s feedback button had been launched on top of the customer ‘contact us’ button used for sales. Brand should be at the table when it comes to  VoC feedback design as well as being grateful recipients of the insights.

Is quality sacrificed for quality?

When I walk through an airport, I’m asked to feedback how the experience was at security, passport control, at Starbucks, WHSmith’s, the loos etc. – it seems everywhere. And any bored 5-year walking to the gate ahead of me gets to whack the same set of buttons as me. I chose not to tap because of the floored value, even though I had an experience I wanted to feedback. How useful is that data exchange?

If this was a polling station, or online questionnaire, the child’s feedback would be recorded as a spoil. But not here – every ‘whack’ and ‘whacker’ is equal. Worryingly there will be a group of execs sitting around a table analysing this data and deciding investment choices for the airport experience!

Doubling up. Dumbing down.

The ease of serving online feedback might ultimately become the catalyst for their demise. I’m This recent personal account, highlights my point. Having spent less than £6 on a screen cleaner fluid for my son’s laptop  using Amazon Prime, I then received two requests for feedback (on a product I’ll never use).

First Amazon came knocking. They wrapped three questions into one answer (ouch), not sure I’ve seen that in any MRS training manual. The third of which isn’t applicable to most customers. The questions are also about the seller who Amazon highlight as unnamed ‘seller’. Well the seller to me is Amazon. I bought my product through their platform and I paid them. So, the buck starts and stops with them surely?

And then the actual seller approaches me and ask more questions. They want to know about the product. They want ‘2 min’ of my time, that’s twice as long as it took to buy the product! I am then confused because the refer to leaving a review on Amazon ‘for millions of shoppers awaiting your feedback’. As useful as screen cleaner is, I’m not sure four times the population of Iceland are glued to their screens uncertain of their

screen clean purchase until I make my case for it! Sack (at least) the copywriter.

And then I look at the choices for feedback which feel rather loaded to me. I asked my 11-year-old son whether he was ‘very happy with the screen clean’. He looked at me like I was mad. I didn’t pursuit it.

Whose benefit is it for after all?

The value of customer feedback is to improve things for the customer. However, when the focus is on socialising the feedback, the priority shifts to getting volume with the intention of creating a free (weak) marketing tool. And undermining the importance of insight collection for the rest of us at the same time.

Shortly afterwards, we bought a £180 keyboard for our other son’s birthday. That’s a significant purchase to us, and emotively means something as I want my son’s face to be full of joy on his big day. So how it was presented online, the reviews, the packaging, the delivery and how it performed really mattered.  However, because we get feedback requests for everything we buy on Amazon, I can’t be bothered to feedback on anything from them anymore.

Listening but not hearing what really matters

Digital capability has really enabled the popularity of this continuous feedback obsession. Where an interaction occurs (either commercial or service based), there’s an opportunity to capture feedback. Sometimes it feels appropriate, other times it’s as welcome as a powercut. The driver is the need for vendors platforms to consume vast lakes of data to ensure analytics are substantial (and some price per response aware of this dependency too, although most have moved beyond this pricing model now).

What happens when the digital data collection touch-point isn’t there? 

Silence! I was in my local 3 shop a couple of weeks ago. We have 5 devices with them. Some had finished their initial contracts, but I hadn’t been contacted, so I have been paying a fair chunk more than I needed to for months (thanks). The service rep had to switch between two CISCO systems to see my devices and actually needed to look at my 3 app to get the details. But much of the information was missing, such as how much I pay. It made it very difficult to work out what was what. In fact, we resulted to a scrap of paper from my pocket and a pen to work things out. By the end of it we’d worked out I could be about £90 a month better off. That conversation turned me from being frustrated to impressed with his perseverance.

But at the end of it I hadn’t completed a transaction so there was no survey triggered. I’d gone from detractor to promoter but I couldn’t feedback my more important observations on the lack the integration between the app and the retail tech experience or the impact a lack of transparency has had on my confidence in 3, the neglectful CRM system, or most importantly (in my mind) the patience and brilliance of the service rep (not sales rep because he didn’t try and push things on me). But he turned it around. In all the time I’ve had 3 contracts, that was the moment that has mattered most, and 3 missed it. How many organisations miss moments because their listening posts are tied to technology platforms capabilities?

This highlights the challenge faced by VoC managers in gathering feedback appropriately, from the right customers, when it matters most to them,  not the organisation.

The customer feedback asset journey map is usually an interesting one but ironically often neglected.

With so much to learn, but so many trying to learn from it customer feedback must be treated with as much importance as any other customer experience reflecting its value to the company. Otherwise you will get less than you put in and could find your feedback programme cited as a driver of customer attrition – ouch!

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.

Are customers being unfair on Ryanair?

It’s been difficult to miss the recent trauma caused to the Ryanair brand following its announcement that its pilots are off on holiday for the rest of the year. An estimated 2% of flights were to be cancelled, meaning very few ‘customers’ are impacted (according to them).

‘Have your say’ poll below

I’m one of the 98%, whose flights went ahead, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t aware or affected by the situation. I have still seen all the news and abuse they been getting in the press and social media. It’s also crashed into my customer journey when I flew because I had to put more effort in to remove the anxiety involved with sticking with Ryanair.

When I saw the initial announcement, I had flights booked to Copenhagen for business. I didn’t know if they intended to publish a cancellation but heard stories of passengers being told two hours beforehand that their flight had been cancelled. I was due to run two days of customer journey mapping workshops, so couldn’t take the risk.

I booked the flights originally because of the convenience factor of them. I’d be departing from an airport close to me and at a time that suited. The cost of the flights matters less to me. a lot less than an airline honouring a flight where there are dependencies at the other end.

So, I booked back-up flights in case the Ryanair flights were cancelled and I didn’t know whether they’d tell passengers about cancellations. The back-up flights were from an airport 90 mins further away from me than the Ryanair flights, so a lot less convenient, but at least I knew I’d get there if mine were cancelled which had now become a more important criteria than convenience.

When the cancellation list was published my flight was not on it. But as a colleague said, ‘when you buy cheap, you end up buying twice’. Ryanair positions itself at the cheap end of the cheap brand spectrum, so the old advertiser’s wife’s tale certainly came true for me. In fact, I’ve ended up lining the pockets of two other airlines they compete with just so I can use Ryanair.

Is Ryanair being unfair to me as a customer? 

I don’t think it is. I understand I am a transaction to Ryanair and not a customer. It’s always been that way. I accept that to afford the price of their ticket I need to lower my expectations. I need to sacrifice quality and a lot more besides because we enter into a transaction, not a customer relationship. That’s the trade. If I want to be treated like a customer, I should choose an alternative carrier. I get that.

So it’s my choice and they don’t try and present themselves as anything more than that, so we get along just fine. In fact, I’ve booked over twenty trips so far this and a noticeable proportion of those have been with Ryanair so I hop it’s commercially viable for them too.

But will everyone feel the same?

From a share price perspective, they are 25pts up on where they were this time last year. But what’s your view? Complete the survey below and see what others think too.

Will passengers change their airline?

Perhaps those who have lost hundreds on hotels and car hire will be less likely to consider Ryanair, especially as they cant get refunds from their travel insurers for which Ryanair state legally isn’t their problem.

People who had events and activities planned like visiting family abroad for key birthdays, weddings organised or taking friends and loved ones away for much anticipated trips might hold a long term resentment if they can reschedule at no extra cost.

I know they have slim margins and are looking for me to demonstrate my fallible human side and make a mistake (e.g. I forget to check in 2 hours before hand or I need a drink of water and pay €3 on board when it costs 69p if i’d remembered to get it before I flew, or if show weakness and exercise my right to sit with my wife and young sons on the flight and pay for seats to do so). Those extras are part of their business model, they need to protect them.

But in return, they don’t expect me to be ‘very satisfied’ with the experience. they don’t expect me to tell others to use their airline, they don’t expect me to be loyal to them and they don’t expect me to enjoy using Ryanair. It’s a transaction. We both know where we stand and I think it works pretty well.

Can I remember when I travelled with Ryanair and where to? No, it’s a pretty forgettable experience.

Can I tell you how good the experience was? I didn’t notice anything, but I didn’t expect to.

Can I recall a positive memorable moment from dealing with them? They are not creating happy memories. That’s not what cheap brands do. 

Would I tell others to choose them? No, but that’s not important to them. They aren’t looking to give me any reason to do so and I have no reason to tell anyone else to use them.

If I want a memorable flight I should choose another airline. Ryanair do not have the margins or the brand to satisfy customers, so why would they focus on it?

Does this episode reaffirm Ryanair’s brand, rather than damage it?

I’ve also found the Ryanair cancellation was a hot topic amongst the Swiss, German, Danish and Belgium attendees at the workshop. It seems others are not so accommodating. Listening to the discussion amongst the international group of business travellers, I hadn’t appreciated how wide reaching this incident had become.

Some decided to use a different airline to get to the workshop to previously used Ryanair. They said it was a nice experience so they would carry on now they’d realised the flight experience was important to them.

But we shouldn’t be disappointed in Ryanair. The incident itself and how they have conducted themselves throughout the flight cancellation saga has been true to their brand. Whether it’s not publishing the cancellation list early enough, putting pilots holidays before passengers holidays, sitting in front of an advertising poster of smiling actors posing on a beach as the CEO says sorry we can’t fly some of you to the beach or not sharing compensation information legally obliged to until the regulator barks, they been consistent.

All these have been executed perfectly in line with the values of Ryanair. Few other companies could turn a crisis in to such as demonstration of unwavering alignment to their brand.

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.

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. 

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.

 

 

Free Customer Experience Progress Assessment

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

We see the benefit to you as follows:

  • Identify the key areas involved in progressing CX
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  • Validate or challenge advice and recommendations received from current CX partners
  • Receive an independent observation separate to any vendor supported opinions

As independents we have no invested interest in the outcome

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

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

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

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

How to achieve 600% from your Customer Experience Programme

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

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

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