Tag Archives: chris brooks

5 examples of how to have fun with Customer Experience

Often customer experience improvements focuses on broken processes, reducing friction or the dreaded self-serve (normally cheaper for the business but more effort on the customers than they would really like). All are about taking away pain and turning detractors into promoters….okay passives.

But do companies have the momentum to take this through from their ‘permission to trade’ or ‘brilliant basics’ level up to ‘make it enjoyable’ level? Not always sadly. But when they do it creates positive talking points and memorable experiences. Of course without the maintenance ground work, building fun experiences is more difficult for the business to feel it should be investing in or customers to enjoy if they’ve got outstanding gripes.

Suspend that thought and put yourself in the shoes of a customer experience team who are over the brow of that hill and living in the ‘make it enjoyable’ zone. Here are five enjoyable customers experiences which tickled us and we hope you take inspiration from too.

What we like about these is that you can see what the old experience was like. It wasn’t actually broken but there’s always room for improvement. Someone has said, ‘Could we make it more fun and see if that makes it more successful?’

Turn left. You will

tomtomThe technologists behind sat-nav science are incredible. But those at TomTom who decided to make the instructions barked at you come from the voices of John Cleese, Mr T, Yoda or Darth Vadar are genius. Rather than labour over the technological improvements in the mapping accuracy, which is already a 1000%  better than me reading the map, adding the voice increases the fun threshold to warp factor 10. And as soon as you get bored you can change to new voice.  In fact, Brian Blessed is the latest voice to be immortalised – Gordon’s alive!

Challenge Pizza Hut

Ipizzhut came across this example through twitter so have pieced the story together. But as I can make out when ordering there is a ‘any special requests’ section taken at the end of the order. Typically the response is ‘please hold the onion’ or ‘double anchovy’, but the customer has thrown in a cheeky ‘draw a dinosaur on the box’ request and rather than tell the customer to take a jump, the Pizza Hut staff have risen to the challenge and made a boring space very fun. It begs the question what else can you do with the inside of a take away box!

Grow your money trees

Umpqua could have a whole blog on fun experience all to themselves. Where others are moving from retail banking to mobile banking they are opening more stores. And according to Barclay’s analysts’ it’s not just a community play, it’s a commercially sound model. The Economist reported, “Barclays predicts by the end of next year, Umpqua’s return on equity will be 14%, far above the average”.


They do things differently. For examples here is a plant on a customer’s door step. That may be what it looks like to you and I but this is actually a loan mailing. I’m sure you can get the creative reference link to growth, but you may have got the fact that what is normally a dry comms piece is made memorable and fun. And guess what it outperforms any other loan mailing stats you’ve ever seen!

Beep. Beep. Making shopping more fun for Mums

 tescocarToy cars in supermarket are not new. In fact they’ve been with us for a few years now having been introduced by Tesco in 2007. But go back to that moment when someone said, ‘I know stick a toy car to the trolley’. After a ‘Are you insane!’ was first fired back the visionary commercialist (also known as the customer experience manager) would have said, ‘hang on there is something in this. Anxious Mum’s buy less. Mum’s get anxious because of bored kids. Bored kids love driving toy cars. Toy cars would fit to a shopping trolley’ at which point everyone’s proverbial penny would have dropped. It was brilliant then and it always will be brilliant. And it’s less to fund than a crèche!

And the overall winner in the CX fun category is…

My favourite examples of fun in customer experience are those like the Tesco example above where fun has been used to take away anxiety or a negative behaviour. It’s a movement in its own right and if you are interested take a look at the VW Fun Factory examples.

But to finish my favourite example of improved customer experience is actually from real life. It’s the toddler eating journey that parents go through daily. It makes business challenges look like a walk in the park when it goes wrong! Getting small children, who are very good at manipulating broken processes, to eat when they want to play is a real challenge. But this fun idea is very successful and has probably been around since toddlers first needed feeding, but the ingenuity of it is still stunning.


Put into a corporate context, ‘fun food’ versus ‘as it comes food’ – the outcome is exactly the same food gets eaten so why do it. But with fun food there are three huge advantages:

  1. More produce (toddler’s food) is consumed with fewer issues (tantrums) reducing time and effort spent on getting the customer complaints (toddler pacified).
  2. The customer (toddler) engages in the process (dinner time) willingly prepared to be distracted from the other more enjoyable daily tasks (toys and TV).
  3. The front line staff member (Mum) is more productive because there is less effort needed (feeding & remaking thrown food) and satisfied because the labours have been appreciated (feel like a good parent for a moment).

If you want some new inspiring creators of fun customer experience recruit a group of Mums with toddlers (left at home). They are world class fun CX practioners.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

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 

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 

Unordinary Thinking No. 38: Deliver less and make customers happier

Organisations often say “We must do more for our customers”. And whilst that’s a worthy ambition, the way in which it is delivered is not that straightforward. The typical response to such a desire, which is ideally accompanied by a ‘I can’t sleep at night until we do” sentiment from the tearful CEO or an equally emotional fist smashing down on a break out area desk, is to give customers more of something. And the typical demonstration of more is to give them more money off stuff – or less. Hold that thought.

fist on desk

Here are three examples where brands have taken a step back, looked at this situation from the customer’s perspective and found they could do less than they did before for their customers and still improve things for their customers. Additionally, in every case there is an improvement to their own bottom line – no margin eroding brand equity destroying discounting needed here, thank you!

So it’s a win-win, or is that a win-win-win. I’ll move on.

A slower delivery saved a builders merchant millions 

I was speaking to a very bright CX consultant who recalled a classic case from builders merchants Travis Perkins. TP used to bust a gut to get deliveries out next day. However, when examined it turned out the type of ‘builder’ TP attracted wasn’t a last-minute ‘@**&, we need it now!’ type. It was well planned projects so orders were put in a week or so ahead of when materials were needed. Through research customers confirmed a later delivery date was just fine, as long as the knew when it would be. It was this permission which helped TP save a shed load. If the delivery could be more than four days, then their suppliers were happy to drop materials directly at the customer’s site rather than taking it to TP who then had to reload and take it on to customers. This saved millions and customers were equally happy (and in some cases more happy as they didn’t have palettes stacked on their drive a week before they were to use them). Smart.

Snail mail reduces unwanted inbound call costs

cat & postbox

I have worked with Aviva in the past on comms and branding, but never on CX. But they do seem to have a rich supply of great examples – so well done to those in York, Norwich, London and everywhere else – we salute you. This is another such case. I’ll admit I don’t know what the product was, but customers purchasing over the phone were told documents should be with them in 3 to 4 days. The key word in that sentence is ‘should’. One of the most vocalised attributes of customer satisfaction is managing expectations. The problem with the should be with you in 3 to 4 days statement is that whilst from Aviva’s perspective it sounds like a licence to tolerate error, the customer hears ‘should’ but computes this uncertainty as a more certain ‘will’ – human nature at play. So when the docs don’t arrive in that time frame, as they didn’t in many cases, the customers (I did hear 75% of them) would call up and tell Aviva they hadn’t arrived. Aviva had dispatched them but the Royal Mail who should deliver in 3 to 4 days hadn’t delivered all of them.

So whilst it wasn’t the customers desire to have them in 3 or 4 days and it wasn’t Aviva delivering them, the expectation was unnecessarily set so Aviva ended up picking up disgruntled customer calls costing them money.

So instead they checked with the Royal Mail who said all post of that class used is delivered within 7 days. So the operators switched to ‘your docs will be with you in 7 days’. The time difference wasn’t important to customers but the certainty of expectations being managed was. As a consequence 95% got their documents in that time frame and were happy and Aviva reduced the cost of managing the ambiguity of the Royal Mail delivery down to just 5% of what it had been.

One flavour for all

shower gelOne of the largest gym chains in the country runs a daily ‘CSAT dip tracker’. One complaint they received was that the (let’s call it) mango and lime shower gel had run out. So they fed back to the facilities manager at that store what had happened. Who duly ordered more from centralised procurement buying. It happened again, and again at different stores. Nothing amazing there until the data showed it was always the mango and lime gel that was mentioned. Procurement confirmed they’d been ordering exactly the same volumes as the other flavours.

It was then the CX team realised this was so popular the others weren’t being used at all. So the decision was to drop all but one of the other flavours. Procurement was now able to negotiate a much keener price for the gel because they were ordering nearly three times as much. The complaint disappeared off the radar of the CSAT tracker too. Giving customers less choice proved more popular and saved the company money in the process.

It goes to show what a little lateral thinking can achieve. But that’s half of what being a pedigree CX practioner is about. It’s about taking a step back and questioning is there a better way to do this for customers. If the answers yes, then you can start to think about the other dimensions such as affordability or capability to deliver it. If you put customers at the heart of the decision-making, everything else always falls into place. Trust us we are customer consultants!

If you don’t believe how easy it is to do, put us to the test.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

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

Have customers finally found their voice?

According to a customer channel report from Fisher Hedges, when it comes to customers having a voice, over 2/3rds believe social media is a channel which allows them to really get their voice heard, ahead of the call centre.

The report also highlights that consumers, of all ages, are turning to this channel to report gripes and steep praise. Having read the report on Friday, I considered where I might find examples to back this up. I only needed to wait until I had a conversation with my stepfather on Sunday. He gifted me two ideal examples, illustrating the point that social media is a more powerful channel than others when it comes to getting a business to take action on behalf of the consumer.

Tesco – Socially Responsive

My stepfather replayed to me how Tesco responded brilliantly to his recent concern that there is collusion in petrol pricing from town to town. He’d noticed that the petrol where he lives is 5p more expensive than that in the next town.


He picked on Tesco, because he found their two stations and could compare the prices. He sent a message socially on the subject to Tesco. Within 15 minutes this resulted in a phone call from Tesco (on a Saturday night) about the issue. The Tesco rep explained the reason was driven by competition at a local level. Unhappy with the response he requested a more senior investigation. By Tuesday he’d received a letter with more a detailed explanation of the point from a senior rep. During our conversation his focus shifted from the petrol issue to how amazed he was at the speed and the personalisation of the response after his social bark. Tesco definitely went up in his estimation. And although he didn’t mention it to me, they’d managed to make his public display private.

As an aside, I found a website called http://www.petrolprices.com/ where you can make you own comparisons. I found the variance between petrol prices in our town and the next, four miles away, is actually 7p on petrol and 5p on diesel. It pays to drive around!

Everyone Active (except the customer experience team)

My stepfather also mentioned an on-going issue he is having with Everyone Active (the gym company who manage local government facilities). They seem to let their customers down at every conceivable point. From broken disabled shower facilities, to taking money from customers for a public swim when the pool is booked for a private session, the list goes on…

He attends two or three times a week, so a social media rant would seem unnecessary when he can speak to them face-to-face. As a voice of one, with no one listening in, he tells them of the problems each time he uses the facilities. But the conversation is always the same…

  • He lists the problems still outstanding.
  • Their initial response is: ‘we know’.
  • When challenged as to what they will do about it, the response is: ‘the person who does that is back tomorrow. We will tell them’.
  • When challenged with the comment that it needs immediate attention, the more senior response is: ‘we know that needs fixing. Rest assured we will get on to it very soon’.

But like a scene from Groundhog Day, the problem is there when he returns each time and so the conversation begins again.

It shows the power of customer voice where people are listening versus an intimate conversation. Even though from the brand’s perspective, the intimate conversation is more considerate to them. BT Care get this…


BT – Social Care 

I’m a big fan of straight talking Warren Buckley of BT Care. I’ve seen him speak using a live twitter feed playing behind him. Brave – he informs the audience what’s happening and why on screen, while explaining that social media is the customer service tool at BT Care. He understands why social media has become more important, as he states: “One person with no ‘followers’ can very quickly become 10,000 people”.

All of which gives credibility to the change I believe will come as analysts find their feet with ‘big data’ – a shift from valuing customers based on their commercial contribution to their ‘Brand Impact’ (BI = combination of social media reach, impact of message, advocacy and contribution).

Klout already allows individuals to see the value of their ‘social voice’ online. Whilst I mighkloutt argue that the algorithms are not yet sophisticated enough, I can’t deny the concept is a strong and interesting one.

Appending BI scores to customer segments would change the way brands engage with customers altogether. It’s still an unordinary thought, but one I see getting more airtime as social media becomes more mainstream. If brands move to appending BI scores, social media will be encouraged as a primary means by which customers can interact with them. In turn that will evolve our definition of what social media is. And so on.

What I have learnt

The key take out for me is that the complainant has found a way to jump the queue as social media, as a means to gripe, grows in popularity. So brands and businesses must learn how to manage the impact and coordinate responses across their channels. For further clues on how to do this see Warren Buckley speak, follow @BTCare, or have a chat with my stepfather when he’s not having his say socially.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business 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.

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 

Testing 1, 2, 3. Is this Voice of the Customer microphone on?

I was invited to speak at a recent event held by Steria. They were hosting a Customer Engagement themed event for retailers. I chose to share some ‘customer insight interpretation’ stories under this heading. It’s an area in which Steria has a growing team of experts. One of their brilliant analysts is Gerard Crispie. I’ve known Gerard for years. He has a similar view to me when it comes to how to leverage customer feedback effectively. Many years ago we worked together on a Building Society brand where he helped me understand the difference that can be achieved between capturing insight and being insightful with what you capture. I’ve since discovered this is a key difference between leading customer orientated organisations and those who aspire to be. I summarise those lessons from Gerard as follows:

  1. Be reliant on the people involved in developing the feedback technology, not the technology itself
  2. When capturing customer feedback, cast the net wide and look under stones (don’t rely on the ‘we’ll get what we need from 60% of feedback’ philosophy – you won’t)
  3. Always leave the mic set to ‘on’, you never know when you might hear something insightful
  4. It’s data – so be agile in your interpretation, not binary

Fast forward 15 years to the present, and at Lexden we now work with major brands to set-up and deliver end-to-end customer experience programmes and other customer strategy requirements. But I still find these lessons being missed. Perhaps the customer research team are focused too heavily on building structured and efficient voice of the customer programmes, only to provide board level KPIs? Or devise tracking studies to provide evidence that a specific customer touchpoint is impaired by a broken process, so they can justify investment to fix it? Whilst all very heroic, and often necessary, it will never transform a business into a natural customer-driven organisation.

garden fenceTo achieve this you need to look for feedback which is less obvious in its meaning. It’s in these margins that you can find the gold that allows you to understand ‘why’ an expectation from a customer is important, or how your customer experience can be differentiated from others based on your brand positioning rather than your service provision. However, it is in this muddled, messy and often confused space where Gerard and I find most fortune for clients.

To get to these riches requires great people, great listening and interpretation skills, and the ability to put a metaphorical microphone in front of customers when it doesn’t really belong there. That way you might hear something of real interest. Capturing insight which falls outside the boundaries of an organised customer research feedback programme will allow the business to hear new conversations (or gripes) and lesser discussed topics.

With this in mind, for my talk I chose examples which highlight why it’s important to think beyond the structured Voice of the Customer programme if a business is really serious about using customer feedback to shape its decision-making, and not just validate what it probably knows already.

Case #1: The general insurer who needed to see tears before it was convinced it had a problem

The customer experience team for this leading general insurer shared wave after wave of well presented VoC results at the board meeting. But despite the evidence showing that the claims process was letting the overall customer experience down, the programme didn’t allow enough flexibility to prove why. The customer experience team knew that the problem was that the business saw the vehicle as the customer, but they had also sold in the VoC programme as THE voice of the customer. The programme didn’t highlight this so they couldn’t get the board to understand what changes were needed.

blair witchThey resorted to a drama to highlight the crisis. The customer experience team hired a professional to buy a car, insure it, create a low impact crash, be left stranded and then make a claim to be recovered. The individual videoed the entire episode. Including the sales rep on the phone thanking him for his valued custom and confirming the ‘customer matters’, the recovery wagon picking up the car after the crash, and leaving the man alone at night for a second vehicle to collect him  –  the recovery driver’s contract was to ‘recover and repair the car’, not the passenger.

The customer experience team took the video to the next boardroom rather than the VoC study. Maybe it was the content, maybe it was seeing the fear of the scared customer stranded at night, maybe it was the Blair Witch Project style filming, but whatever it was it worked. For the first time the board agreed they had a problem – the car was seen as the customer, not the driver. No thanks to VoC, the customer improvement was then commissioned.

Case #2: The utility company who listens to customers to shape the company’s future as well as the current business offer

VoC programmes typically track key interactions between the customer and the organisation. These are mainly focused on what is currently experienced or reaction to proposed changes to the brand, product or service. But one major UK utility company has created a shadow customer board as well. So rather than just hear what isn’t working in terms of product and service experience, they share with customers their strategic endeavours, critical business decisions and the commercial impact of customer experience improvements. Whilst VoC helps them understand how well they perform for their customers today, the shadow customer board helps them shape their future based on their customer’s expectations.

Case #3: The bank who lost business by listening too strictly to the Voice of the Customer

bank teller

This well established national bank noticed, through it’s AUM figures, that maturities of a particular investment product were not being managed, meaning customers’ funds were automatically transferred to a low-interest savings account. This meant that the investment team lost out on valuable x-sell opportunities. The VoC programme identified that a call prompted by a maturity letter was the key ‘moment of truth’ to retain the customer’s investment. So the bank set up a team to make calls to inform customers of their options, including a new investment.

With the trial underway, results started to show a change of events. They noticed that whilst some money was transferred into a new investment and some rolled over into the savings account, 30% was cashed in! A worse outcome than before they were led by VoC. Why was this? What VoC didn’t track is that many customers didn’t see that this was the key MoT or the end of the journey. Instead, customers unhappy with their options, triggered by the call, contacted the branch where they originally took out the investment. The branch advisers, with no incentive to retain the customer’s investment or awareness of the investment team’s trial, helped customers close their accounts.

The investment team contacted the branches and found out what was happening. They then realised how VoC had misled them. The key is to widen the ‘stakeholder impact reach’ when journey mapping, to avoid internal audiences being left unaware of the impact of their actions. Once spotted, the investment team trained a few branch staff to cover regions advising customers of new investment opportunities. The 30% reduced and the investment retention returned.

Each case proves that whilst VoC is a key customer experience tool, helping to inform the business, over reliance on it can blind side the business from the even more important customer irritants and opportunities. Keeping agile and open-minded is key to listening to customers and allowing their influence into the business. A characteristic I now associate with world-class organisations. Connecting with Gerard again has reminded me where my understanding of this originated from and we believe connecting with Steria will give Lexden the opportunity to apply this for more clients at a world-class level too.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business 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.

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. 37: Finding fun in failure (aka The Customer Games)

With the anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics upon us, I thought I’d look to see if there is any chance of replicating that sense of euphoria which engulfed us last year. ‘I decided to take on the role of the sporting gladiator and find some games out there that I can compete in’.

First I tried the ‘stop the pump on zero’ game where you attempt to stop filling up your car with petrol on exactly zero-zero on the pence indicator. But since the price of fuel has rocketed up so much, the dials move too quickly to get the petrol to stop at the right point any more. So I started looking further afield. I realised quite quickly I didn’t need to invent anything. There are already a host of consumer games underway which I can take part in. Here are three of my favourites.

The Which? games

Championed by Which? the latest craze in customer experience is ‘beat the call centre’. Customers are encouraged to try various tactics to get past the dreaded IVR and talk to a person. A host of tips to ‘break the system’ have been submitted. They include:

–          ‘call the sales number’ – no-one gets turned away when they are a prospect it seems

–          stay silent and you get rerouted to an operator

–          calling from abroad so the international code overrides the IVR coding

It’s interesting how a poor customer experience can lead to such customer engagement to combat it.

And we can look to pure fun for the inspiration behind weq4umy favourite consumer solution in this space. Whenever I’ve been to a theme park with my family we’ve valued the time we have there so have opted to use the virtual queuing system. We are not taking anyone’s place in the queue because an electronic tag is queuing for us and telling us when it’s our turn to go on the ride. This means we can maximise our time elsewhere getting more out of the day – perfect.

WeQ4U has taken that example into the world of call centre waiting to find a way of minimising a less enjoyable experience. WeQ4U is an app that will step in for you and queue so you don’t have to. Taking the painful part of the interaction with your telco or utility provider away from you, but like the theme park queue-bots, it informs you when you need to step back in line. I wonder what the difference in Customer Satisfaction scores is between those who actually queue and those who virtual queue?

Instabug games

instabugConsumers like ‘smart’ solutions which help them have their say, get their way but don’t reshape their day. Another great example of this is a new ‘de-bugging’ app from Instabug which activates when you to shake your phone in frustration when an app doesn’t work and informing the makers.

A pair of 22-year-old Cairo University graduates behind Instabug designed the app to create a bug notification system for the app developers which is triggered when the device is physically shaken. “It really enables greater collaboration between developers and users. Now it’s fun to report bugs.”

A very low level co-creation experience but again it highlights consumers openness to ‘play the game’ under the right circumstances.

E.ON games

A much grander example is the E.ON initiative from last year. If you want to really see how much of a sport you can make your business E.ON prove you can go some way. It’s no secret that getting consumers engaged with ‘The Green Deal’ is a tough ask. So E.ON created a Channel 4 series ‘Home of the Future’ and invited a customer family to equip their house with all the latest energy saving devices to highlight how the savings outweighed the cost and make their lives better.

eonThis idea led to the E.ON innovations hub where customers were invited to get inventing new energy efficiency solutions. The competition ran last year and resulted in this gem of a grand final winner.

Steve McNair “Eon Care Sense – Technology Helps the aged and vulnerable” 

Steve McNair saw a role for E.ON in helping us all care for ageing or vulnerable people in their own homes. Smart sensors could detect unusual patterns of energy use (only usually thought about as a way to save money or energy) that might suggest a problem for that vulnerable person in the home, and alert family members or care workers. Simple but a stunning piece of customer gaming using a benefit of the technology it wasn’t intended for.

Whilst most look studiously at fixing customer experience, it’s worth remembering that the most effective relationships are those where the customer experience can be described as enjoyable. A failure or broken experience could lead to something amazingly good. It might seem like a tall ask for some sectors but E.ON prove you can get customers to engage. Let the customer games begin.

Posted by Christopher Brooks.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business 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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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