Tag Archives: Ajai Ranawat

The communication weak spot in customer experience

Whilst marketing communications is just one of the ways Customer Experience can be demonstrated, it is often overlooked and the impact it has on customers not fully appreciated. There is little excuse for not getting customer experience right when it comes to communications, especially with the information feed from the CRM system and the ability of the data experts to translate it into meaningful insight.

In this blog we bring you two examples highlighting the impact on CX when communications aren’t aligned.

cx delivery channels The challenge for the customer experience, data analysts and communication teams should be figuring out how to make the communications a brand differentiating experience. In order to achieve this all aspects of the experience (of which communications is a very visible one to customers) must be beautifully aligned and complimentary to achieving a defined customer experience vision.

But let’s get real. Let’s get back to a world where the promotional communications are sent when customers don’t expect, need or want them. A world where products and services are released promising betterment but fall short or fail to even use communications effectively to get past shortfalls.

Typically these ‘glitches’ occur because of a poorly integrated communication strategy. Getting it right isn’t that challenging if everyone has ‘customer’ central to their planning.

Here are our suggestions on how to align communications with customer experience:

1. Make sure you communicate ‘what matters most to your customers’, in a format they prefer to consume, rather than what matters most to you through your most commercially efficient communication channel.

2. Make sure you know where your customer is in the buying process (easier for B2B to achieve, but equally important to D2C and B2B2C).

3. Only launch propositions, products and offers when they are adding meaningful value to customers by taking them forward in their lives. Otherwise expect your PR resource to be spent compensating for your brands lack of customer understanding.

Stick to these when devising communication plans and it will ensure customer experience and communication budget isn’t wasted nor brand equity eroded.  With this is mind we bring you two recent examples demonstrating what happens when you ignore this advice.

The airport emails that lets the customer experience down

Sending the wrong message during the customer relationship leaves the customer feeling confused; ‘I thought you knew me, but this proves you don’t’. This example from Stansted Airport landed in my inbox. It told me I could fly from Stansted to hundreds of destinations. I knew that – I was actually away on holiday at the time having used Stansted Airport in the previous week to travel to my destination and returning there in a few days. So there was a good chance I’d seen the array of destinations on the departure and arrival boards or through various websites when I’d been checking out flight options.

stansted2The shame of this poorly timed email is that at the time of travel, my wife and I had commented when we travelled how relaxing Stansted Airport was compared to some airports. We went as far to say they really understand how to look after their passengers when they travel.

The email diminished that positive feeling created from the customer experience. To make matters worse when I sent a note to the sender explaining the situation to help them with their communication planning, I received a new communication offering car parking discounts. I only live 15 minutes away.

It highlights unless the communication planning is aligned the investment in customer experience will be wasted and returns fall short of expectations.

The Box which isn’t fit for purpose

Who doesn’t like to relax and listen to music on holiday? Me and my family do. The advertising for Blink Box Music had caught my attention and the customer reviews hadn’t put me off. I decided to trial the free option with the intention of a subscription if it worked out. I created a small library of tracks which took about an hour so we were set. Most importantly I was able to cross something off the holiday list much to my wife’s surprise and gratitude.

Fast forward to the holiday in France. Day one and I opened up Blink Box full of anticipation. Instead of the fruits of my invested time I was greeted with this message.

blinkbox3 #disappointing

The message itself is jovial enough, but because it hasn’t been made clear when I set up the account, it wasn’t the right tone of empathy. I also was on holiday and not living in France which did frustrate me because I’d input my home details to activate the account so BlinkBox know I’m not living abroad.

I checked and buried as Point 17 in the T&C’s, there is reference to territorial coverage. If earlier in the experience BlinkBox had posed, ‘how are you intending to use BlinkBox?’ it would have saved time and effort, ensured my expectations were managed and kept the reputation of the business for me, in tact.

However, the anticipation and experience of the service as an alternative to itunes, is undermined by not presenting the ‘limitations’ up front. Which is why knowing ‘what matters most’ to your customers and fulfilling these criteria is critical in communications for brands which embark upon customer experience as a differentiation.

Tesco as a brand does has a ‘customer first. Profits follow’ philosophy. These are classic growing pains of bestowing values to sub-brands, but as much as they may hope it wont, it does impact consumer perceptions of the mother brand and suggests that the brand has over stretched this time.

Keep communications in line if you hope to exploit customer experience fully

For customer experience to be employed as an asset and a differentiating advantage, all parts of the business must be aligned and follow the CX strategy. Communications, like Customer Service and Complaints have always had a closer relationship with the customer than others, so will be the most challenging areas to get to fall in line.

But without their alignment, investment into customer experience and customer propositions to create advantage instead of relying on price will always be compromised. Sadly the FD wont see or care about this when reviewing the overall return of a CX strategy investment. Either get all communications aligned or run the risk of CX being ditched as ineffective in favour of the less sustainable pricing approach once more.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Strategy Consultant

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | Putting your 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 experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0)7968 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris.

The price of a doodle and squeak

A dark dark night and a screaming baby. It is 3am. You know the little one needs a dose of Calpol but you have just dropped it on the floor. How much would you pay for another bottle at that precise moment?

Or, perhaps, how much for a flatbed on an overnight flight before the most important interview of your life? Is a £1m bonus for someone who has built a new management team, given the business positive PR and added £15m to the bottom line worth it? A short term, Wonga loan to pay for car repairs after the bank has refused an increased overdraft may be cheap if your car is integral to your life.

As a buyer, value depends on what is important to you-generally and also at that specific moment.

As a seller, the key thing is to think deeply about these buyer motivations and incorporate them into your price conversation.

But one thing is always true: if the seller makes the primary focus the number (price), it means the buyer will not be encouraged see what really matters (value).

Two people and two stories with two different, unordinary ways to highlight the value of their product…

Picasso, in the autumn of his life, was enjoying a glass of wine at his favourite bistro in Paris. At this point he was approached by an elegant, middle aged Parisian woman who recognised the artist. She flattered the ladies’ man and asked that he should draw a portrait of her, to which he reluctantly agreed.Picasso Lady

Taking a napkin and pen, he started sketching. A short time afterwards he was finished and handed his work to the lady. She was thrilled and asked him what she should pay him. Picasso answered 50 francs-an enormous sum at the time. ‘But that is outrageous’, replied the woman, ‘it has barely taken you five minutes’. ‘No mademoiselle,’ he replied, ‘it has taken me a lifetime’.

A gentleman owned a large Victorian house in Manchester. With period features, it also had the original flooring throughout with one annoying, squeaky floorboard in the master bedroom. Despite engaging several reputable builders, they had all failed to fix the offending plank. However, he had had a recommendation from his local greengrocer who insisted the carpenter in question would fix things.

A grey haired chap arrived in a clapped out van, overalls which had seen better days, and a bag of tools which looked the oldest of all. A man of few words, he enquired about the problem and made his way up to the first floor bedroom. The homeowner pressed his foot down to demonstrate the offending noise. With a short nod, the carpenter went over to the window and looked up and down the street. He looked around the room. He then walked back, lay face down on the floorboard and breathed in deeply. Finally, he walked up to the second floor and sat and listened quietly on the steps.

NailAt this point the homeowner was seriously wondering why he was wasting his time. Before he could say anything, the carpenter rose and walked back into the bedroom. He took a large nail and hammer from his bag and knocked it straight into the floorboard. Bang. He then pressed down. Squeak. The homeowner was not surprised-the others had tried exactly the same thing. The next moment the carpenter walked right across to the other side of the room, far away from the squeaky board. ‘Now what is he doing?’, he thought. Taking another long nail, he knocked it into the floor with a single large tap. He walked back to the floorboard and pressed down. No squeak, no noise.

As he put his hammer back in his bag the owner thanked him and asked the carpenter what he owed. The old man replied that it would be £100. “But you have only hammered in two nails! How can it cost so much?” The carpenter took a dog eared pad, wrote an invoice and handed it over:

Cost of materials: £1
Knowing where to hit them: £99

I bet we all wish we could describe our own products and services in such a way.

It is not easy but our chances can be improved: we have to ensure our energy is focused less on the price we want to charge, and more on the value our product gives.

Which means it should be as easy as hammering a nail into a piece of wood. Or sketching a doodle on a napkin.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | Putting your 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 experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 216548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook,  and Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 43 – Going deep with Iron Maiden

I will confess I am no heavy metal nut.  Hair past my shoulder, black eye liner, tattoos and very very loud music has never been my scene.   I have obviously heard of icons such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Megadeath but have never bought one of their albums.  And I have never, previously, thought of such bands as being particularly innovative or commercial savvy.  I realised my prejudice and error last week when I heard this super story about Iron Maiden.

iron maiden t-shirtIron Maiden is like any business.  They have a product (their music), revenue streams (records/downloads/merchandise/live performances), assets (their skill), customers (fans), finite resources (time, money) and costs (booze, girls and drugs etc).  They face competitive challenges from other bands.  They have to navigate a tricky industry landscape which, since their formation, has altered beyond recognition encompassing changing laws, new technologies and evolving consumer tastes.

Recently the band and their management were figuring out the locations for their next world tour.  Deciding which cities and stadiums they should play to gain maximum exposure to their fan base, perform to sell out crowds and generate revenue from their merchandise sales.

I suppose the ordinary, lazy, conservative option would have been to simply follow the schedule from their previous tour.  It had been successful and nobody would have said that it was a bad choice.  However the band thought it was not the best option and they chose to pursue a more unordinary solution: they decided to base their tour venues according to the localities where their music was being pirated and illegally downloaded the most.

At first this seems a bit strange and even a bit uncomfortable-effectively condone people who have done something illegal and not even paid Iron Maiden for the product?  Instead of prosecuting them, in a way, you are rewarding them. [I can imagine, with a smile, the conversation in most banks, telcos or other large organisation if an analogous situation were to arise.]

But Iron Maiden got beyond this.  They saw these fans not as someone to punish, but as an asset to leverage.  Their view was that, irrespective that they had not paid for the music itself, these were passionate fans who, in fact, may even be more likely to pay for concerts and buy the t-shirts et al. Deep web

To do this, the band had to employ a specialist web agency called Bright Planet who specialise in harvesting data from something called the deep web.  If you do not know what that is you can read about it here.  However, in essence, the deep web (as opposed to the surface web) is where nearly all of the information that is online is actually held and is about 400-500 times bigger (believe it or not, Google can only access something like 0.3% of what is on the web).  It is also anonymous and impossible to trace individuals, which has many legitimate uses but also lends itself  to people wanting to pursue illegal activities such as pirating of music and worse.

So though I still don’t think I will be purchasing The Number of the Beast, I now realise my error:  why wouldn’t Iron Maiden have done such a smart thing?  They have always been trailblazers, doing things few had done before, not fearing failure and consistently making fans happy.  After all, since their first gigs in 1976 in a pub in Stratford they have not exactly pursued an ordinary path have they?

 

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.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0)7968 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

What happens when technology forgets its role as the enabler of consumer adoption

I have recently come across two examples related to the railways which highlights what happens when technology drives customer improvements rather than customer improvements or propositions being enabled by technology – and there is a difference.

We fundamentally believe that if you start with the customer, the solution is a better outcome and commercially more sustainable profit for the business. Any other starting point will get found out by competitors or customers soon enough.

It’s a view our clients, who include Hiscox, Radisson and William Hill understand, but not TfL or Greater Anglia it would seem….

The ticket barrier that thinks tickets are beneath it

ticket machineLexden is based in W1, London. I travel into the office on the days we are not on site with a client or attending a customer inspired event outside of London, so I buy a daily ticket. When I jump off the train at Tottenham Hale I need to show my rail ticket before entering the underground. This used to mean flashing it at a guard who often said good morning too, which was nice.

These have recently been upgraded to ticket barriers. The platform master who used to check the tickets instead now reminds commuters, ‘this way through the ticket barriers to the underground please’.

The only problem is when I get to the ticket barrier (as mentioned, the brand new ticket barrier) I am faced with a ticket stuck over the ticket checker device and directed to the barrier guard to see the guard I used to see who now has a queue of 20 deep very disgruntled customers who have headed for the machines to find unless they have an oyster type rail passes they need to queue. On the basis Oyster style passes doesn’t yet exist for Greater Anglia passengers, that means everyone.

Logic suggests Oyster style train passes are coming to this rail company. But for now, tickets are used. That hasn’t stopped the technologists and the commercialists getting together and deciding because the technology is there they will save money and redeploy the head count.

In fact the only loser in the equation is the passenger. But given ‘passenger experience’ is a futuristic concept to many in this sector (excluding Virgin Trains), it’s an inevitable outcome.

More of this ‘one step forward and two steps back’ process improvement approach and passengers will be hankering after the bygone era of clipped tickets and guards on the basis of efficiency, courtesy of over keen, underprepared technology.

The new payment disease invented by technologists set to make commuters more miserable

card clash

It relates to a new payment technology launch. The amusing thing is that whilst the technology has been around for a number of years the launch is actually leading with a new problem the technology capability will provide for the consumer and delivers the message as if it’s acceptable now to launch with inadequacy.

The ad is announcing the forthcoming launch of contactless on the underground. This means debit cards and credit cards can be used for TfL travel payments. Yippee. All good so far.

But that’s not what the ad is about. It focuses on telling passengers that they should change a habit of a recent lifetime and separate payments and travel cards on their person when they travel, otherwise they run the risk of having multiple payments taken at the same time for one journey. Like a virus, it already has its own name; Card Clash.

Now the customer experience (CX) consultant in me knows the importance of ‘managing expectations’ with any launch – box ticked. However, the customer value proposition (CVP) consultant in me also knows the importance of ‘betterment, congruence and risk avoidance’ that must be loaded into new launches.

Which begs two questions:

  1. How can this be better if it actually creates problems the old solution didn’t?
  2. Why didn’t the providers (TfL, Oyster?) spend time fixing the problem instead of writing ads to apologise for the problem?

I’m assuming the bigger picture is that Oyster will phase out shortly (or the unordinary thinker in me wonders if the opportunity lies for Oyster to launch as a state owned bank with a focus on commuters needs), but as it stands this launch fails the most basic CVP business case scorecards.

With the TfL decision to reduce the ticket office capacity, and the inevitable increase of card problems this launch will cause, it could be a confrontational time ahead for TfL. Or as consumers are involved here, they will possibly work these things out for themselves and decide that things are just fine the way they are making adoption a more expensive challenge than it need be.

For now I will grin and bear the inadequacy and the inefficiency which have become the hall mark of the 21st century passenger railways. It may appear mean but I have faith in the railways, I know one day they will one day be the subject of  a positive post from me or my peers.

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.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0)7968 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook  and Twitter @consultingchris 

Are your office buddies freaks?

We recently held our Christmas party. Those who know us would know we love the opportunity to present the logic of unordinary thinking versus conventional wisdom which would go some way to explaining Christmas in February. But on this occasion, it was simply a result of prioritised client engagements and a bout of man flu which kept our Christmas party 60 days apart from the norm.

And so, to the occasion – we are in a vibrant office space in Great Titchfield Street, W1. We share our space with three other companies. Surrounded by the biggest names in fashion, TV and advertising, it’s a rich and colourful palette to pull from when developing strategies for brands.

Whilst there’s much inspiration to pull from outside the office, I realised we’d never stopped to see what ideas were being cooking up amongst the companies we live with. So at the Christmas (okay February) party, we asked them to pitch their business and best ideas to us so we could get to know them better. And secretly I wanted to know if they were geek, chic or freaks.

They proved to be part chic, part geek (in an endearing passionate about their business way) and apart from a disturbing walnut whip thieving streak, no part freak.

We discovered TV making, musical talent promotion and search engine beautification (I will explain) were the preoccupation of the brands riding alongside Lexden. Each with their distinct style of offer.

Meet 40 Partners

40 partners logoFirst up was the film and TV makers 40 Partners. On behalf of the partners, Emma explained the concept as this…40 handpicked creative and technical partners from the world of film and TV programme making have come together to create ground breaking and exciting new  formats for TV.

The partners include film makers, directors, actors, producers, writers etc. They share ideas, they share the development of ideas into content and ultimately they share the fame and the fortune that follows commissions. It has meant they’ve got a crazy and innovative number of programme ideas they are working through and a really bright bunch of talent who want to tread an alternative path to TV commissions.

We also learnt that unlike our industry where giving ideas away is seen as helpful and demonstrates an endless well of ideas (as a lovely client once said to me, “if you are prepared to give that idea away, I can’t wait to see what you come up with when you are on the payroll”), in their world ideas are as precious as an NPS Promoter is to a rail company. They did tell us a couple of ideas, but we are sworn to secrecy. Our only challenge to their model was how they get all 40 partners on stage when they collect their first industry gong!

www.40partners.com

Meet RareCollective

rarecollective

Charles is a man about musicality town. He’s been involved with plenty of big bands and big music projects working for others. He’s now set up on his own bringing music, events and brands together. Having had success working with ad agencies as a resident creative director of music on their client’s briefs, he is now building his own content and events calendar.

He’s looking to push managed talent, such as the Blue Jays (one to watch) and create new events, such as night golf networking (a bit harder to watch). As mad as it sounds, that seems to be Charlie’s line of work, making ideas that shouldn’t work.

He gets his ideas from his trips to see bands and music agents across the world and restyles them into his own unique mould.  So if you see an event you think, that’s odd, but the music was great – check out who is behind it, it might well be Charlie and the musicality factory.

www.therarecollective.com

Meet Zenigo

zenigoI’ve left Zenigo until last because, they shared their idea last, they start with a ‘z’ and if I’m honest I’m still not sure I get it. But given the speed at which they are growing, their audience clearly does. But that’s okay, I’m not their audience.

So here goes explaining the offer. Zenigo show retailers what damage to their reputation is being caused when the social media sites present them from an image perspective. Why is that important? Let’s say I take a pic of my local Leon outlet because I like the logo design. But it might be blurred, shaky and show a knocked over coffee on the floor in the background. However, its location tracked. Now given my huge Twitter, Instagram and Facebook following (I’m lying) it means it comes up in the search for others looking at Leon. So they see my grubby snap first. Not good for Leon. So Zenigo arrange for better pics and greater priority in social media rankings with these improved images. Their customers sign up for an annual licence and receive reports showing the improved results on SEO.

Everyone is happy; assuming this is a criterion that impacts consumer’s consideration and preference. With retailers from here to France signing perhaps they are clearly onto something. I think it would also be a great ‘additional’ service for companies who focus on improving business for retailers such as payment providers, SEO companies and others to add to their own offers as well.

http://www.zenigo.com

It was an insightful session and we learnt about three completely different business models at play with 20 metres of our desks. From them we will no doubt take a few ideas and store them to retrieve one day as part of another idea for someone else’s challenge.

So whilst it was a Christmas party, we also learnt new, interesting and entertaining stuff too. Freaky!

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.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0)7968 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris .

Unordinary Thinking No. 42 – Cross-selling in the drugs business

I have never quite figured out in my own mind whether I think selling drugs is difficult or easy.  Difficult because of tricky supply side issues such as sourcing, shipping and dealing with unscrupulous characters or easy because of plenty of demand and income which the government chooses not to tax.

Okay, so perhaps I do not mean that sort of narcotic.  I was actually thinking of prescription medication which we all have to buy (hopefully not too often).

I heard a great story from an FMCG seller friend of mine recently.  He told me about the trouble faced by a successful pharmacist client of his when he expanded his store network.

This chap had grown his business from a single shop to four through a combination of hard work, good locations and a forensic understanding of what his customers desired.  With this successful track record behind him, when the opportunity came to acquire a new store location he grasped it.  Why would it not be a success?  After all, he had spent over 12 years running his pharmacies, honing his proposition and working out what worked and what did not.  It was simply a case of taking this expertise and knowledge and applying it at the new location.Pills

Except this time it did not work.  In fact the new pharmacy performed poorly from a sales and profit perspective.  Income from prescriptions was on plan-only to be expected given the new store’s proximity to the town’s general hospital. It was the cross-sales from high margin, impulse purchase areas such as soaps, toothpaste and hair dye which were causing the problem.

The pharmacist could not understand it since he had previously been immensely successful through following the same retail formula in all four of his previous stores.  He was replicating his established model such as store layout, stock selection and staff training.  He looked closely at his customers and confirmed that they were very similar in terms of demographic to those in his other pharmacies a mile away.  But they were simply not buying products in the way he expected or wanted.

So he went back to what had made him successful in the first place.  He went back to his customers and started closely observing and examining what they were doing when they were in the pharmacy.

PharmacyAnd what did he see?  He saw focused, task oriented individuals striding through his front door and to the back of the shop like Usain Bolt striving for the 100m tape.  Because they were coming straight from a hospital appointment, customers were preoccupied with getting their new medication and would march directly to the dispensing counter at the back.  Once they had been served however, their whole demeanour changed as they visibly relaxed and wandered back through the shop, looking at the products on the shelves but not stopping to purchase anything.

He immediately understood.  Once the customers had received their prescriptions they mentally ‘checked out’ of the pharmacy as their mission had been accomplished.  They also physically put their wallets and purses away and, hence, their likelihood to purchase became less.  It was clear to him that he needed to reimagine a new environment, more in tune with this particular customer scenario.

The answer, in common with many unordinary solutions, was simple and obvious in hindsight.  Through the experience of his established stores, he knew how to maximise cross-sales by presenting the right types of product as the customer walked through the door (in a similar way to how supermarkets always have the fruit and vegetables in the first aisle).

So he shut the pharmacy for two days and turned the shop around-both physically and financially.  By mentally envisaging the dispensing counter as the front door, he reconfigured the shop as if a customer had just entered it once they had received their medication.  He placed the products he knew would appeal to customers right in their eye line once they had their prescriptions-or while they were waiting.  Hence he provided a solution more congruent and in tune with how his customers were feeling as they came into this particular pharmacy, with a corresponding increase in cross-sales.

Going back to the customer, applying some creativity, and using the available resources (prior insight about his customers) to help solve the commercial problem.

So perhaps selling the drugs is always the easy bit.  It’s the cross-sell that the drug dealers might want to think about.

 

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.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0)7968 316548  You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

How Samsung uses technology to keep drivers ‘Eyes on the Road’

For many drivers, a mobile phone is a car crash waiting to happen. Samsung thinks it can change that. 

Texting while driving is becoming a big barrier to road safety. In the US, text messaging while behind the wheel makes a crash up to 23 times more likely, and yetover 77% of young American adults believe they’re capable of doing so “safely.” That frightening gap means people aren’t merely unaware of the danger; they’re in denial.

Samsung, however, has a mobile phone app attempting to fix the problem.

The mobile phone giant just launched an Android app called Eyes on the Road, a game that prevents users from using their phones in potentially harmful ways (for instance, texting) while driving. When active, the app determines the speed at which a user is traveling in order to gauge whether that user is in a moving vehicle or not. At and above roughly 20 km per hour or 12 miles per hour, all phone call, text, social media and other notifications are hidden. Only when the user has reached his or her destination (detected when a user’s phone has been idle for 10 minutes) are notifications revealed. The user can also manually deactivate the app.

eyes on the raod

Click to read the original expanded article from Quartz.

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.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our free monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548.   You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

Unordinary Thinking No. 41 – Cash in on childish complaints

We work with clients who are looking to improve the experience they provide their customers. Some are well on their journey and are looking to ensure their ‘branded experience’ creates differentiation from their competitors. Others are on the start of their journey having recognised that increased satisfied customers lead to sustainable revenues at a lower cost margin.

With these different stages of customer centricity in mind, it is important to match the resource types you employ to steer and deliver improvements to the stage you are at. Ops folk are great at fixing broken process (reducing detractors), but marketers have some advantage when it comes to building a differentiated experience (increase promoters).

But whatever stage of maturity your CX programme is at, it pays to always keep an eye open for those rare little gems that can give a boost to your programme by reminding everyone just how easy it can be to create warmth towards your brand. Which as we know encourages consideration for those in the market.

And there’s no better place to start than among the Voice of The Customer feedback to look for the fun you can generate from complaints. Unordinary Thinking indeed as it’s not something for the legally constrained in thinking. Which is why we recommend letting the content marketers and your brand experts trawl through what they can find. They will find opportunity in the feedback where others find cause for concern. Not forgetting resolution is a key customer attribute so that part of any dissatisfied customer feedback found will still always need attention.

wbac letter

Making fun of a complaint

We came across this example of such an opportunity at a recent customer experience conference when it was presented as a classic case of the brand putting business policy before brand personality. It’s a complaint from a customer who asked webuyanycar.com for a valuation on their child’s Little Tyke car. It fell in the wrong hands first time round with a snooty response requesting the enquirer to not waste the businesses time which soon found it’s way on to the internet.

But that meant it appeared in someone else’s feedback pot at WBAC and this time the customer centric thinking employee responded with a sense of the spirit that the brand can convey. The outcome (which should have been presented first time around)…..webuyanytoycar.com was born. For a few ‘shillings’ (looking at the website it would be surprising if it cost more than that) they’ve trying to get a big impact from a small idea, a complaint in fact. The promise was to buy 1000 toy cars for £10 each and then rehouse them at hospitals, hospices and homes where they would be much appreciated; a charitable response. It highlights what a little unordinary thinking can achieve when you take negative news and add a little personality. Even if you are a second hand car sales brand. The content allows consumers another way in to the brand and the execution helps improve a positive association with the brand which leads to higher levels of consideration – all good news for the ‘sales’ funnel.

wbatc

These opportunities land in the inbox and in tray of companies every week. The trick is to see the opportunity that exists within them and to accept the time taken to make them a reality is still an investment into the customer.

There’s a great saying attributed to Mary Angelou, poet and leading figure in the American Civil Rights Movement, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Which if that means my positive emotional response replaces the still lingering negative bilious feeling I had when I first saw the old ad campaign, I will be very grateful!

wbac

Another opportunity to cash in on a complaint

I have found a similar opportunity on a Facebook feed which is a reference posted by a chap who is organising a trip to the world children’s choir championship for his choir. But he had so much trouble trying to block book 70 flights with a low cost airline brand they nearly didn’t get there. He’s promised to feature the brand in his press release which is due to follow the finals. Can the brand turn this around? Absolutely. And the marketers among you probably have some ideas forming around what you would do. 

So I will track this and see how it plays out. Ideally with a story featuring the brand turning the complaint (from a customer who has bought over 70 products in one hit) into a good customer experience, PT opportunity and shows a reignited warmth to their brand. In the meantime, revisit your own VoC to find fun, positive association and preference for you brand. I assure you great opportunities lie within it. Of course we could find it for you, but there’s more commitment behind these things when you find them yourself. By all means contact us to help make the most of it. Happy customer feedback hunting.   

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.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our free monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

Unordinary Thinking No. 40 – Your game, your rules

If the game has always been football, the opposition would like you to play football, and they assume you will play football, is it sensible to play football?  Or, if you want to win, does it make more sense to play a different game?

Last month I read the obituary of a gentleman I had previously learned about whilst travelling in Vietnam who did just that.

General Vo Nguyen Giap died last month at the age of 102.  Looking back on his life and what he did, you would surely have received long odds on him surviving to this grand old age.  Giap was a military commander in the Vietnamese army from the 1940s through to the 1970s and was a key architect in his long game of kicking both the French and Americans out of his homeland.

So how did the son of a farmer, with a law degree and no formal military training, drive out two Goliath colonial powers with overwhelming advantages in terms of military apparatus and firepower from his poor and undeveloped country?Giap

Well perhaps it was precisely because of this lack of a conventional military education.  Such schooling would have meant a propagation of status quos, an emphasis on might and (over) confidence in the omnipotence of having the latest military technology.  By not being clouded and directed by the solutions to someone else’s previous problem, it leaves that person free to apply their own thinking and creativity to solving their own, current problem in its own, current context.

The above was coupled with Giap’s innate confidence and clarity in the strengths of his fellow countrymen and what they would be prepared to suffer to take back their occupied motherland.  It was a powerful and fertile cocktail for generating the type of unordinary thinking which gave birth to his unconventional strategies and surprising tactics.

Two examples.  The first a huge, war defining battle with the French and the second, an example of the myriad of clever tactical activities which inexorably sapped the strength and will of the Americans until they, effectively, gave up.

The French defeat at the battle of Dien Bien Phu, in the north west of Vietnam and close to the border with Laos, has been described as one of the worst and most humiliating in their history.  Dien Bien Phu was a remote outpost, surrounded by mountains, which the French had identified as being strategically important in their occupation of Vietnam.  They had strongly fortified the valley by initially flying in experienced paratroopers to establish seven armoured positions-each named, in rather Gallic style, after the French commander’s seven mistresses.  The French were very confident about the fortress they had constructed with its superior artillery, 13,000 troops and because it was surrounded on all sides with hills which were densely forested, steep and with an inhospitable and foggy climate rendering them, they believed, impassable.  It was against this backdrop that General Giap sensed his opportunity to take back Dien Bien Phu.

Firstly he recalled the words of one of his heroes-ironically enough, Napoleon.  “If a goat can get through, so can a man; if a man can get through, so can a battalion.”  Over a period of two months, Giap commenced slowly bringing 55,000 men, 20,000 bicycles and hundreds of pieces of heavy artillery including anti aircraft guns, physically carried up piece by piece.  By the time they were ready to engage with their enemy there was so much Vietnamese artillery, heavily camouflaged in the mountains, that it outnumbered the French by about four to one.  The second part of Giap’s assault was to then, unbelievably, painstakingly and silently dig hundreds of tunnels down from the tops of the mountains surrounding the French on all sides.  They came so near to the French it is said they could hear them talking.

The French could not countenance being outnumbered in terms of motivated and dedicated troops.  But they were.  They did not believe their enemy would have any ability to outgun them.  But they could.  And they thought it impossible for a military force to be able to surround them in this most unforgiving terrain.  But it was not.  After nearly two months of siege and fierce fighting, the French were overrun and defeated-not just in this battle but also the war.

Less than ten years later, the second example pitted Giap against a new invader.  He asked his best soldiers to infiltrate the American bases on the outskirts of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh).  Using stealth and audacity, together with American complacency of feeling safe within their southern stronghold, they repeatedly broke into the barracks of the US Army.  And what did Giap ask his soldiers to do?  Gain immediate benefit by killing as many GIs as possible and destroying their sophisticated weapons?  No.  He told them to steal their soap.  And then, by ensuring his own soldiers used this soap to wash, the Vietnamese were able to put the American dogs used to track the Viet Minh off their scent.US Embassy Saigon

Thus they deliberately laid false trails deeper into the jungle. They set booby traps and continually led the US soldiers through water, knowing that their boots were wholly unsuitable to the humid, tropical climate and would cause them to develop Trench foot-a horrible, debilitating and morale sapping condition.

Two examples showcasing Giap’s unordinary thinking:  Playing a game with rules that suit you rather than your opponent.  Innately understanding and utilising an adversary’s weaknesses to your benefit.  Maximising the assets you have, rather than wasting time on those you don’t.  And always playing with a clear vision of winning the real war whilst simultaneously executing congruent tactics dedicated to this end.

I wonder how General Giap would have used these philosophies if he were to design strategies for the challenges we face in today’s commercial world?  I suspect he would have rather liked observing others playing football.  But out on the field, he himself would have played an altogether different game.

 

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.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

Unordinary Thinking No.39: Finding a Fix for the Forces Finances

I was recently chairing a session at the CrossMedia 2013 conference at London’s Design Centre. The main attraction on my watch was a case study from thereadingroom, the digital activation agency. The case in question was for Moneyforce, a financial education website aimed at helping members of the armed forces personnel improve their financial literacy.

Having read the presentation in advance I was impressed with what had been achieved. The site had been developed to help members of the armed forces personnel become better equipped with money management. Unlike most, given the nature of their employment, the armed forces find themselves between not needing that much money for themselves when on active duty to having a few thousands pounds in their account when they are on leave which then needs to last for the period of the leave, and beyond for their dependents when they return to active duty. Those who don’t manage this situation well often suffer from stress.

moneyfacts

Most financial advice served up to this audience isn’t tailored. Given the size of this diverse group with different levels of attainment and experience, mass financial brands can’t sustain specificity of focus.

But this dedicated site is built around armed forces segment personas which enables visitors to recognise themselves and their financial behavior. This gives the visitor confidence in the advice that is provided, so they are more inclined to follow it through.

The MOD had identified that the number one cause of non-military stress is finances and financial education is often blamed. They needed to do something about it. http://www.moneyforce.org.uk is the result. It seems pretty simple when put like that. But it was only when I met with speaker Jamie Griffiths, Divisional Head at Readingroom beforehand did I fully appreciate just how unordinary an outcome like this being achieved really is.

Whilst the problem was identified by the MOD, it would be fair to say that a detailed ‘customer segment’ solution would not be an approach they have the capacity or funds to achieve given the stretch on budgets and the myriad of other military related challenges on the MOD’s agenda. But that’s exactly what has been achieved.

So how did the ‘top down’ brief end up with detailed customer-centric approach?
The MOD couldn’t achieve this on their own. It was only when an ex-employee started work with Standard Life did they become aware of the CSR focus of the life and protection giant. Funds are built up from policies which have matured but a recipient can not be traced. Standard Life directs these funds towards projects which make a positive impact on society. Recognising the impact of ‘personalised’ financial advice versus a broadcast message, they agreed to fund a more committed approach.

rachel

With this backing, it led to the inclusion of The Royal British Legion who specialise in providing financial assistance and support to the armed forces and are always looking at ways to cost effectively reach their audiences. So they had the content as well as the ear of appropriate supporters such as Dame Kelly Holmes.Readingrooms were the last piece of the jigsaw. Their digital specialty is online user experience. So they spent time with military personnel understanding their specific circumstances and with the RBL matching this to the right advice. This got them to the point of developing several personas, enough for anyone in the armed forces to relate to. Being specialists in experience they also recognised the subtleties of colour choice for a sight which would be aimed at the RAF, Navy and Army alike.So the personas matched the targeted content, providing a specific and relevant content experience for the user and their unique circumstance.

This to me is a great example of a strategic partnership where every party has a differing agenda, which independently they will achieve in an adequate, but probably unsatisfying way. But when they come together they achieve so much more which they can all be proud of and exceeds their individual expectations. And it is this collaboration which is unordinary in its concept and brilliant in its execution.

The evidence of the performance is in the stats Readingroom shared on the day of the event.

More impressive is the type of feedback achieved from site visitors. which demonstrates it’s adding real value to those lives it was intended to make better:

“The information is aimed at young people who perhaps haven’t had a proper wage before. I fall into that category” – Infantry soldier

“I think the information is engaging using real life examples made the issue of personal finance reflective” – Armed welfare officer

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

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.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter.Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: + 44 (0)7968 316548.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook  and Twitter @consultingchris