Tag Archives: brands

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.

Showing the Human Side of (n)Power

npower’s Head of Customer Experience explains how customers are taking centre stage in the business

The utility sector has been through some tough times, with press scrutiny, regulatory pressure and customers who are starting to vote with their feet, but despite this backdrop npower, spearheaded by Kelly Iles (Head of Customer Experience), is determined to embed a customer first strategy in order to gain back the trust of customers in the energy sector.

Kelly Iles,Christopher Brooks, Managing Director from Lexden Customer Strategy Consultants caught up with Kelly to find out just what npower has in store for its customers.

Christopher: You’ve been with npower since 2012. It’s a sector which is striving to provide better customer experience and has a way to go in this space. As head of customer experience at npower, what are your key responsibilities in driving npower’s customer agenda forward?

Kelly: We have come a long way, npower has put a lot of focus and effort into making it better for our customers but it’s fair to say there’s still much more work to do. Our mission to achieve this should never stop. My team’s remit is to be the voice of the customer, championing what they want, need and deserve. I have the accountability and authority to set our customer experience improvement agenda which for us right now is getting back to the basics and delivering the energy experience that customers expect. This means addressing core processes, people capability, systems, communications as well as changing the culture of the organisation. It’s a pretty full on role!

Christopher: Already I can tell you are clearly passionate about customer experience, what do you find most interesting about CX?

Kelly: I love the fact that CX touches every facet of the business. There are no hiding places; all areas of the business are involved in the delivery of a seamless experience and to make it work, activities need to bring business and functional silo’s together, which has always been a management challenge.

Christopher: So what is your ‘customer first’ ambition for the company? 

Kelly: We’ve only been serious about building CX capability in the last 3 years. It requires a wholesale business transformation and we continue to move through the different stages of maturity. Whilst this started as a programme ultimately building an enduring capability and culture as well as a well-recognised discipline is our aim.
The core stages are; 1) building a customer insight capability – to understand the issues are customers experience and to measure our progress and performance, 2) map the customer journey to understand when, how and why these issues occur, 3) build and execute an effective improvement plan and finally, 4) embed the methodology, approach, ethos, and culture so that it becomes everyone’s responsibility.

Christopher: What’s driving CX up the utility sector’s agenda?

Kelly: CX has become a core priority across the entire sector. As choice widens, customers become less inert this results in, energy providers have margins being squeezed and commoditisation increased, however for sustainable growth pricing can’t be the only answer. As a result providers are recognising that offering a good service may mean customers are less likely to shop around and might move away from choosing their provider based solely upon price.
Ultimately retention of customers becomes key and delivering a great experience will help to build long standing sustainable customer relationships.

Christopher: In the insurance sector the metric is ‘effort’. In a sector such as utility which is very much an essential service, what are the priority areas of CX improvement to impress customers?

Kelly: Opportunities to delight and impress customers are far less than in other sectors such as retailers. Like insurance firms, the key is to make it as easy as possible for customers to do business with us, effortless in fact. Developments such as SMART and the introduction of digital technology for example our new energy app allows our customers to track usage, manage their energy usage and ultimately keep costs as low as possible. For us it gives an opportunity to build engagement with our customers as well as giving us data that can be used to build a better picture of our customers upon which to offer more targeted products and services.

Christopher: It sounds as if there is much going on, can you give me an example of a one of those improvements made for customers?

Kelly: Listening to our customers we understood the anxiety that a house move creates. During any home move, Customers have lots of other things to sort. Managing their change of energy to their new property is the least of their priorities. as well as their energy. Our processes made customers contact us at a time suitable to us and we were only prepared to process Home moves by our telephone channel. Ultimately we quickly realised we could do a lot to make this process much less effort and one less thing to worry about at the time of the move. As a result we’ve digitised the whole journey and removed the restrictive contact window so that customers can inform us of their home move when it suits them. At the same time we built key checkpoints so we are able to reassure the customer that everything is going through as planned.

Christopher: You’ve mentioned a number of customer improvements being made. Where do the drivers for improvement come from?
npower

Kelly: Our Voice of the Customer programme is complimented by our Voice of the People and Voice of the Process programmes. This gives us a complete view on what’s happening to both our customers, our people and why. By bringing together multiple data sources and developing insight, we are able to clearly see the priority customer issues that need to be addressed. Our focus is on what matters to the customer.

Christopher: What are the contributors to your CX programme you value the most?

Kelly: There are many areas, but three I’ll highlight. Firstly, it needs the support and buyin from the snr leadership team which will ensure that CX remains on the agenda. The leadership team need to take ownership, set the agenda and ensure followership. Secondly, our people on the ground. These are the team that deliver the experience to the customer day in, day out. They also know what the issues are and often how to fix them. Listening, empowering and giving them the accountability to make a difference for customers is vital.
Finally, the ability to upskill and embed CX capability into the DNA of the organisation. For this I look to my team who have the right skills and expertise to work across the business and define what good looks like. This could be practically how you delivery change in a customer centric way right through to building the right operational lead metrics to monitor and evaluate CX change.

Christopher: Are you pleased with the progress you are making?

Kelly: We’ve come a long way but CX isn’t a project, it doesn’t stop. There is always a better way to serve the customer. Real-time feedback as a measure shows the power of ‘in the moment’ feedback. It gives you the opportunity to address a poor experience and to build advocacy through heroic recovery activity. To take a customer whose expectations haven’t been met and then exceed offersa powerful opportunity to build loyalty.

Christopher: Who do you look to for customer first thinking inspiration?

Kelly: For me, I think those companies who just make the whole interaction effortless impress me the most. The AA breakdown service – I was on my own when I found myself stuck on a side of a road, they asked me specifically whether I was accompanied and then applied a very targeted to experience based upon my situation; text updates to manage what’s going on and even a message to help me recognise the recovery vehicle (driver flicking his lights)importantly it was executed perfectly and against the expectations met.

Christopher: CX is evolving fast, what do you think the major trends in your sector will be?

Kelly: The winners in the industry will be those who get the basics right, make interacting with the company seamless and then ongoing, build a proactive relationship with the customer that he or she values. Using data and insight will be key so we can put customers back in control. Ultimately, helping them to manage their energy more effectively.

kelly iles 1Christopher: it’s been so insightful, your passion is infectious and your expertise evident. So how could you help an organisation just waking up to the potential of customer experience?

Kelly: Okay, so I’d have to say strong leadership is key. It can get ugly and you need to be prepared to go through the journey. Leaders need to believe and recognise the phases you will go through. They will also help ensure you get your message out there in the organisation. Also it takes time – there are no short cuts. Many organisations transformation programmes can take up to 10 years. Perhaps most important of all, be relentless in your quest. Never give up. It’shard work but the rewards are great.

Christopher: Kelly that’s great. I’ve seen you at the CX Awards, so you are obviously doing the right things. It’s been a pleasure hearing more about where you’ve come from and where you are going. All the best with your mission. Thank you.

This article is published in the CXM (Customer Experience Magazine)http://cxm.co.uk/showing-the-human-side-of-npower/

If you head up a CX team and would like to be considered for a feature interview, we’d love to hear from you:

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

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contactchristopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call 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 Lexden Group.

 

Has digital figured out how to improve high street customer experience?

Time, our most precious commodity. And lunch hour even more so.

So, isn’t it great when brands takes this into consideration and use technology to reduce effort and improve the convenience of the experience rather than just employ it to save costs.

And even rarer when the designers and the technologists work together to enhance the aesthetics and with the perceptions of the brand at the same. This perfect collision of world can deliver a better experience and reaffirm the differentiation of the brand. This drives a greater ROI from CX than the typical ‘preservation’ approach digital often is employed to provide. (migrate customer from one costly channel to a less costly channel)

To understand how to measure if your CX strategy is ‘maintaining’ a basic level (often at a low ROI) or ‘differentiating’ at a superior level (and delivering a higher ROI) email us for a copy of Lexden’s ‘MAD CX’ Audit 

With this in mind, here are two examples of much loved high street names leading with a customer experience approach which introduce digital technology into their operational processes across the value chain to add real value to all involved.

McDonalds Faster Food

If your fast food is not delivered fast enough or you find waiting in a queue as time consuming as downloading via a poor internet connection. McDonald’s has begun trialling in store self-order kiosks with speedy contactless payment for time strapped customers at one of its branches in London.mcdonalds

Welcome to Planet Argos

Separately, Argos has made much of its new sleek digital concept stores. Bringing the online experience to the high street with the entire catalogue available to order via an interactive tablet as well as a collection facility. Click the image to link to a YouTube video showcasing the new store in Old Street, London.

argos

In both cases, what works is the simplicity of the approach. Whilst each has clearly been designed to speed up service fulfillment, it’s noticeable that actually having designed the process with the customer at the centre, visitors to the stores can be observed happily interacting with the simple to use technology and in fact spending that extra time to browse, select and even order more.

 

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 sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. 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.33 – Customer Satisfaction based pricing

Ever since I heard that Radiohead allowed fans to determine the price of their music downloads I wondered if the model could be applied to the professional services market. With a mass offering like music, the advantage is that volume and time allow for the remuneration to build to recoup the costs to produce it; an unending opportunity to eventually break even. With a professional service such as marketing strategy support to a time critical defined problem from a specific client, the model is a little less forgiving.

IMG_6330I buried the idea as nonsense until I was in St Katharines Dock in London recently where I saw the Honesty Shop Bus. It’s a double-decker which contains tourist type items for sale. There is an honesty box inside where customers make a self-imposed contribution in line with what you feel is right to pay. Those on the bus that day made what I regarded as reasonable payment gestures.

I decided if Radiohead and an unattended London bus can elicit purchasers without naming a price, surely Lexden can.

Earlier this year I got my chance to try out the idea. We received a request to provide PR strategy support to a well-known agency who were pitching for a slice of a media owner’s budget. The brief was familiar to us; get under the skin of the consumer audience and unearth their emotive drivers and motivations to help a brand connect in a meaningful way.

We were asked what we would charge for insight, analysis and presentation. At this point, as in most pitches, we appreciated our fee may be beyond the pitch support budget of the client. Normally I would propose a number of days based on an established day rate. However, on this occasion I suggested our client decided what the piece of work was worth to them when we had submitted it. We both accepted the risk (with pitch support there is no second chance to get it right, so like Radiohead, this was a calculated risk because of our reputation to deliver).

We completed the work. The client loved it. 

The client then proposed an amount. It was coincidentally similar to the amount of time I spent on the work. So what’s the advantage you may ask?

Using the traditional model, the client pays and we are paid, the client values the work and we value the business. A very transactional affair. Not to be sniffed at but less inspiring.

However, under the new model, we produced the work, the client valued our work, the client decides on an appropriate fee (so they are more engaged in the assessment of the quality of the work), we are rewarded for our craft and we both feel valued equally in the equation. It becomes more of an emotional engagement rather than just a supply and demand contract.

In an era where crowd sourcing, community collective schemes and credit unions are emerging to stimulate economic growth. It shows specialist B2B providers can participate too.

And how did it all turn out? They won the pitch. 

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com  or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

Who we work with…

clients mar 2013

Should I stay or should I not go now?

Okay, so the lyrics don’t trip off the tongue as well as the original but, then again, when The Clash wrote their song I suspect they were thinking more of booze, girls and other activities rather than customer loyalty, which is what I have been giving some thought to.

Last week I had the privilege of sitting as one of a panel of experts at BDRC Continental’s Annual Hotels Insight Forum at the Park Plaza in Waterloo.  The event was attended by about 70 people from the world of hotels and hospitality and included representatives from the likes of Hilton, Radisson and Marriott as well as less mainstream niche players.  The theme for the day was “Sprinkle stardust or deliver vanilla-customer engagement and retention”.

Cris Tarrant, CEO and Founder of BDRC Continental (incidentally, the largest independent research agency in the UK), had asked me to sit on the panel because I am specifically not from the world of conferences, hotel loyalty card schemes and occupancy rates.  He wanted to ensure an external perspective about what is actually going on for customers when hoteliers and hospitality professionals think about loyalty, retention and engagement was also included in the discussion.Hotel Cards

The really interesting and unordinary part of the day for me was a section where a live focus group with actual customers was facilitated on stage in front of the delegates.  What the customers said was then subsequently discussed and debated by the attendees and with the expert panel.

Inevitably much of the discussion around engendering customer loyalty was about the rational side of propositions such as card based loyalty programmes, rather than talking of ways to make more emotional connections with customers.   I think this simply reflects the general balance of thinking, activity and resourcing in marketing departments in most companies (not just hotels) who are trying to make their customers feel loyal to them.  I think this balance is wrong.  From a customer’s perspective, the things that will make them truly loyal in the “I love them” sense are the emotive elements of a proposition rather than the rational.  But businesses typically put most of their effort into the rational elements which have less of an influence.  For customers, when we really delve into what it means to be loyal to a brand or organisation, it is so much deeper, more emotive, than it might first appear.  For customers, loyalty-and its extension love-is more about feeling and emotion, than function and rationality.

And this is where the lyrics from The Clash come in.  When customers are thinking ‘should I stay?’ with a brand, it is not quite the same thing as asking themselves ‘should I not go now?’  The difference is subtle but important and I see the distinction as follows.  The first question is answered by the positive, emotionally led and continually constructed reasons which a brand gives for a customer to love them.  The latter question is answered by human beings’ innate inertia and the rational hygiene factors which brands implement and which customers expect.

The reasons for how customers answer the “Should I stay?” question are distinctive, personal and emotive.  They are about surprise and being treated as an individual.  They are about demonstrations of service which go well beyond their expectations.  They are about tangible and personal representations of valuing their custom.  And it is about brands creating an environment which makes the customer say ‘it just feels right with them’.Clash Stay or Go

On the other hand, the “should I not go?” reasons are typically driven by industry norms against which customers assess the proposition in question.  It is about habit.  It is about feeling comfortable with the familiar and the fact that most of the time customers just cannot be bothered with the hassle of switching somewhere else, even if they are unhappy.  These customers are often silent to the brand and the brand can choose to take this silence as glowing contentment or simmering discontentment; genuine loyalty or stunning apathy.

And events invariably arise which will cause a customer to question their relationship with the brand.  When they get an offer from a competitor which is 10% less than their best price.  When their website is down at the precise moment they want to buy.  When they have a bad experience with the brand and the opportunity is not used to deepen the customer relationship.  When they hear, via their social networks and word of mouth, that another organisation treats its customers really well.  When these types of thing happen, the reasons to ‘not go’ within a proposition become largely irrelevant.  It is the extent and quality of the reasons ‘to stay’ which will define whether that customer is loyal to the brand.

Customers have more choice than ever, find it easier to switch and struggle to differentiate the rational elements within most propositions.  If you don’t give them reasons to stay-emotional hooks and memories that enhance their lives in some way-you are not maximising your chances of deserving their loyalty.  As the Claridge’s General Manager says in the brilliant documentary series currently on BBC2, “You have to create a reason for them to come back”.

To get their customers to love them, talk about them, keep returning and spending more money with them, businesses need to stop focusing so much effort and discussion on the reasons to not go and, instead, spend the time creating as many reasons for their customers to stay as they can.  To finish off the Clash’s lyrics….if they don’t, there will be trouble…….

 

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com , or call us on M: +44 (0) 7698 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

Who we work with…

clients mar 2013

Unordinary Thinking No. 28 – Beer is the answer

How do you make a healthy soft drink for kids?  Start with beer.

We regularly find that unordinary thinking or unordinary propositions come about when the individuals in question have nowhere to go, nothing to lose or nobody else to turn to.  It comes about because they just cannot keep doing the same thing they have always done and expect a different outcome.  External circumstances mean they have to do something different if they are to survive.  But it is also about leveraging, squeezing and thinking differently about what you already have.

German beer is famed and feted for its high quality and taste and it is taken very, very seriously.  Ancient purity laws mean that any brewery in Germany must always conform to strict guidelines and parameters when it produces its beer-they are legally obliged.  They are not allowed to put any artificial flavours or chemicals into their drinks and everything must be the result of the natural raw ingredients and the process of fermentation they have been following for hundreds of years.

In the mid eighties, the Peter brewery in the small town of Ostheim vor der Rhön (population: 4000) was facing major problems.  Although it produced great beer, so did many others and they were continually being squeezed by the major German beer brands.  It was a classic David vs Goliath situation which we like to write about.  Closure and bankruptcy of the family run brewery was a very real threat and they knew they had to do something different if they were to survive.  They did not shrink away with small thoughts-their idea was to invent a brand new beverage category: health drinks.

Their master brewer, Herr Leopold, thought that he could find a way to use the fermentation process which he had been using his whole working life to produce a non alcoholic, carbonated drink which would be made according to the same stringent standards and rules as his beer.  Unlike existing fizzy drinks with their e-numbers and additives, his would only be made out of malt, water, sugar and natural fruit essences.

And he did it.  It took 8 years of experimentation, trials and failures in the bathroom he used as his laboratory, along with virtually all of the brewery owner’s money.  But he did it.  He discovered a process and strain of bacteria which meant that instead of the sugar fermenting into alcohol, it turned into something sweet and non alcoholic which could be used in a soft drink (it’s about the gluconic acid, apparently).  Bionade was born-a fun, carbonated drink with nothing unhealthy in it and with a target audience of children.  It was a drink that reimagined fizzy pop.

Bionade was first sold in 1995.  It is hard for us to think that far back but, in those days, there was no health drink market.  There were natural juices of course and sugary, additive laden fizzy drinks but very little in between.  It took considerable bravery for Leopold and Peter Kowalsky, the MD, to pursue this course 17 or 18 years ago where no health drinks market existed.

In today’s world of fruit smoothies and pomegranate cordial, it is easy to think that a healthy fizzy drink is somehow an ‘obvious’ product.  But it was not.  It is important to remember that it is courage, ingenuity, hard work, skill and knowledge which has taken Bionade to over 20 countries, including Australia and the US, and annual sales of over 200 million bottles a year.  It might have started with beer, but it is ending with a fizzy, healthy bottle of fruit pop.

 

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com , or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548.  And you can follow us on LinkedIn  Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris.

What exactly is in a name?

We are normally reasonably serious in what we write in our blogs but, just occasionally, we like to have a bit of fun.  So, sincere apologies in advance for any offence caused.  But I could not resist.

Naming your business is one of those things that nobody wants to get wrong.  Below are a few I have seen on my travels which, shall we say, may be right because they are just a bit wrong:

Singhsbury’s Superstore

I had heard about this shop in north London.  I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  After all, why wouldn’t Mr Singshbury name his grocery store after himself?

Goodenough College

With so much emphasis on league tables, competition for students and dumbing down of educational standards, it is admirable that this establishment explicitly states the type of education you can expect to get there.

Tasty Café

This one intrigued me when I passed it and I just had to go in to and sample it.  And let me tell you, I was very impressed when I took a lick of the table.

TC Young Solictors

It is increasingly hard for young adults to get jobs these days so a law firm resourced by such people deserves support.  Who would have a problem putting them in charge of a multi-million leverage buy out or to defend someone falsely accused of murder?

Kings Cross Eye Clinic

These days the internet has allowed even the very niche of businesses to flourish.  I think it is tremendous that Mr King is able to provide a service to help people with cross eyes.

Rush Hair

The Algerian fellows on Holloway Road who cut my hair like to take their time.  Not at this hair salon down.  The female clientele are straight in and straight out.

Now I am not necessarily saying that these businesses have got their naming strategy wrong.  Just that there is always someone who might see things a little differently to yourself.  Any more out there?

Posted by Ajai Ranawat

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.