Category Archives: Unordinary Thinking Series

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

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

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

This is perhaps best illustrated with an example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why the difference?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Plimmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Lexden CEO

Beware of the vanity trap of customer experience – part 1

Beware of the vanity trap of CXI’ve always felt the Greek tragedy of Narcissus would make an excellent addition to the national curriculum. I think the story of the hunter known for his beauty who was trapped into worshipping his own reflection in the river until he died, would be a helpful reminder to those making choices based on looks rather than learning. 

However, I think having seen a few Narcissus moments recently brands could perhaps do well from reading the fable too. 

I am talking about those who spend time promoting their customers satisfaction or net promoter scores. There are a number of shortfalls in this ‘low budget’ marketing stunt which perhaps is lost between the insight team, the CX team and the marketers. That said, i think consumer’s see straight through it.

1. Love me, love me, say that you love me

Customer feedback is the most valuable of commodities. True CX vanguards know it’s not the score, but what contributed to the score that matters. How the company made the customer feel or how they delivered is what mattered most to customers in such a fulfilling way. It is these experiences that keep the company ahead, not the score. All this message is saying, ‘They love me. They Love me’. Memories of John Hurt’s portrayal of The Elephant Man come flooding forward. It’s all very ugly. 

2. Scoring would have been easier

I accept sometimes promoting scores is a corporate comms way of appeasing or impressing regulators and shareholders, respectively. Although someone should mention it to them that customers see (through) this stuff too. However, the shame of it is that there was a message in their which all stakeholders would value. 

Look beneath the veneer of a score and you will find fabulous content. Real customers state why they scored the company higher and how it has changed their behaviours. The caveat here is that these insights will only be forthcoming if real time feedback has been set up with closed loop case management capabilities and customers are informed of benefit of improvements. Which then brings me back to the point of this section. 

Beware of the vanity trap of CX 1

We have worked with brand agencies who find the detail of experience improvements too dull to convert into amazing communications, choosing analogies or celebrities to do the job instead. We work with end customers who are motivated by the former and switch off at the later. As a former brand planner, i know there is a balance. But if you put customer experience as a tick box on your churn or exit survey you will soon see the value of promoting what achieves the 95% rather than promoting the percentage. 

 3. Oops i did it again!

I am always amused by the way some organisations calculate satisfaction. As a paying customer, i have always viewed my definition as the correct one and even as someone who creates, manages and delivers voice of the customer’s programmes as one of the CX services we provide at Lexden, I still default to an elite band of academics who have spent years cultivating the most reliable articulation of customer assessment of experience. They have identified 25 different attributes (not 24 0r 26) which account for over 80% of a customer’s commitment to a brand relationship. This compares to less than 1% accountability or NPS or CSAT. That’s not a typo! (contact me if you need to hear more on this). 

This doesn’t stop companies choosing the slimmest of views, ‘are you satisfied’ or ‘will you recommend us to others’ and putting it on the most senior of dashboards. CEO’s can lose their position when the penny drops for those around him. 

Judging satisfaction based on what you do well rather than what drives customer commitment and contentment is pure vanity. I’ve never judged satisfaction on the number of routes a low cost airline has or the punctuality of planes landing on tarmac. These things have no bearing on my consideration of whether I use that airline again. Yet, I read they are No.1 for satisfaction on these criteria – oh dear. I can’t see that’s healthy for customers or the company either, especially as the experiences which drive true satisfaction under perform. 

CX is not a game, it’s a serious busy model (although ironically, ramification is a good way to get CX embedded in the business) where vanity has no place. Business leaders should look to drive better customer performance rather then chase promoters. 

There are many more points on this topic of CX vanity, so watch out for part 2. 

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Experience & Value Proposition Consultancy

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

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

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

Can you deliver the 3 in 1 Brand Experience? Waitrose do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

waitrose 1waitrose 3waitrose 2

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Experience & Value Proposition Consultancy 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be upstanding please

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

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

Taking a rain check on skateboarding

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

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

The odd couple: banking & yoga

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

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

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

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The supermarket which made ugly fruit popular

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing Barcelona back to front and inside out

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Christopher Brooks

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

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

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