Category Archives: Uncategorized

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)

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

 

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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>

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.

Achieve World Class Customer Experience in 3 Steps

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

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

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

3-steps-pic

Step 1 CX Programmes Profitability Alignment

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

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

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

Step 2 Prioritising What Matters Most 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 3 Competitor Advantage with Customer Experience

Make sure the brand difference is amplified through the experiences 

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

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

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

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

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

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

cb2

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Can you really coach Customer Experience?

Because I’m totally sure you can.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by James Edmonds, Senior Consultant, Lexden.

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

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

What will the 2017 Voice of the Customer priorities be?

Voice of the Customer (VoC) has emerged as one of the most invaluable tools for companies to prioritise investment, remove inefficiency and create a differentiating experience for their customers.

Commissions from clients, have meant we at Lexden have had the opportunity to review the most worthy customer feedback platforms and support set-ups available. We often find from the dozens available on a few truly meet the clients spec, and then when you add in key ‘soft’ criteria such as working style and sector understanding one or emerge.

It has helped us advise clients on which platform will give them the results they need to drive CX forward in the business. A poor VoC set up can suffocate CX potential in an organisation

It has also led us to creating Client Only VoC discussion groups, where VoC and CX managers meet and discuss their challenges, their vendors and drive out solutions amongst themselves. The non-compete, free gathering has proven useful to those with established programmes to understand the value of new techniques and technology as well as to those starting out to understanding how to avoid the pitfalls.

We have are not aligned to any tech vendor, so can objectively facilitate the group to ensure all benefit. One of the discussion areas is the future of VoC, so we have pulled together a questionnaire to get a view on what VoC practitioners believe 2017 priorities will be.

If you manage or play an active role in customer feedback in your organisation (clients only), please can you contribute your opinions to the 4 question survey below.

Results will be published as an anonymous representation of VoC practitioners in an article The Customer Experience Magazine in January 2017. Once you’ve completed the survey, if you would like results sooner, please email on christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

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

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

The free-range customer. Using the element of surprise in research

beth

Andy Haldane doesn’t understand pensions. As chief economist at the Bank of England, we might expect him to understand better than most.

But the point he made in his recent speech ‘The Great Divide’ is that we – consumers – find it difficult to engage because of the way financial businesses communicate.

He’s right. But in all the (many) pensions research focus groups I have observed, consumers rarely admitted to not knowing the detail .

The problem is, much of the qualitative research we rely on in business assumes people are self-aware.

We construct our research around what’s important to the business, build a survey or focus group and ask the questions.  People answer to the best of their ability.  Then go and do the opposite of what they said they would do…

Unlike Mr Haldane, most of us find it incredibly hard to say “I don’t understand” or “I don’t know”. We really don’t like to appear anything other than considered and rational, and generally clued up.

Let’s try it on you.

Why did you choose your pension provider? The honest answer might be “I didn’t”.   But your answer mentions tangibles like pricing, and convenience – and possibly the less tangible ethics and reputation.  If you have ever contacted your provider, you will be able to give me chapter and verse on whether they answered quickly, and were helpful.

How does the plan work – indexation for example?  You might know, but you will probably preface your answer with the words “I think” or “I imagine” or the old chestnut “It’s pretty standard”.

What do you need from it in the future?  Apart from the obvious thing –  money – you will struggle.  Right now you are not sure what you will need, when or how.  You don’t have a crystal ball.  But you will give me an answer anyway and talk about what “most people” want.

It’s not that you’re being untruthful.  But you are – like all of us – extremely good at rationalising.  We think we should know the answers.  We filter out anything which looks like flaky or half-baked thinking.  Even to the point of fooling ourselves.  We constantly take shortcuts to make sense of the vast amounts of data we’re bombarded with at every waking moment. Often we are not making active choices, or even noticing the detail.

So people like me come away from qualitative research with lots of answers.  But those answers turn out to be a poor predictor of what people do.  This is because our research only gets to part of the story.  We expose the sanitised version.  But the instinctive, gut responses can’t find their voice.

And the longer the time lag between event and research, and the larger the size of the focus group, the greater the effect.

So how can we catch our research subjects unawares, before they have had a chance to rationalise?

1. State a broad research objective – to better understand the context This means admitting that we don’t know everything yet.  Take a deep breath, channel Andy Haldane and ditch the script (for now).

2. Design a programme which intercepts research subjects in real time. Observe them before, during and after interacting with us.  Do it in the moment.

3. Conduct research in the most realistic and unobtrusive way possible. In the wild, or in conditions which simulate all the stresses and competing priorities of real life as closely as possible.  Do people usually buy the weekly online shopping in laboratory conditions?  No, they do it while watching TV, sitting on a train, chatting to the family, musing about cholesterol/weight/fridge space.  That’s where the research needs to happen.  Context is everything.

This means bringing ethnography and diary techniques into research plans.

Look over their shoulder and see how much time they spend researching and reading about pensions.  Or their definition of getting advice.

Use the focus groups and surveys to zone in on the detail, but let’s wait until we know which details are most important to customers before we drill down.

Grab a notebook and camera first, and just watch customers doing what they do – free range.  This helps us develop a true understanding and respect for their point of view.

Posted by Beth Richardson, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

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

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

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