Tag Archives: christopherbrooks

What are the hot topics on the CX Event agenda this year?

From what I heard, ‘It´s (still) about the emotions and the figures’

Speaking to various participants and listening to the key note speeches at Germany’s CX Forum 2017 earlier this month, I tried as always to get a sense of ‘the’ questions which are driving the CX scene here in Germany.

There was no surprise that the responses are highly dependent on the CX maturity level of the companies involved. But priority points most often heard were:

  • How do I prove and link figures to CX activities?
  • How do I get the ‘people’ on board?

Our own experience with assignments across Europe echoes these two points as well. it seems conventional thinking on what is a sound measure of CX and some of the ‘lean’ style transformation programme approaches adopted for customer experience have created problems for organisations hoping to progress with CX.

Why is this?

One reason is many companies settle for a measure which is easy to obtain and simpler to report when it comes to CX. So whilst the business is interested in what drives profit, the CX team is reporting how many customers (say they) are promoting the business? Evidence from studies conducted by Dr Prof Phil Klaus (Author: Measuring Customer Experience) show a less than 1% correlation between ‘recommend’ measures and profit. Not the sort of weapon you want to take in to the boardroom when it comes to justifying CX investment!

The good news is that we are finding many are waking up to the value of the right CX measures and the investment in cultural change required to support CX.

And more good news: B2B companies are now asking for the applicability and best practice for their businesses when it comes to CX. The top 10 messages shared are not new, but probably cannot be repeated often enough for new entrants into CX, and as reminders for the converted:

  1. Make sure you have your sponsor on-board and understanding the commercial potential from CX
  2. Measure, measure, measure what matters to customers – but what CX drives behaviour change as well as inference and sentiment (such as NPS and CSAT)
  3. CX, like all strategic imperatives, takes time to establish, normalise and create return. It is a journey of discovery for organisations with several steps to take before reaching ‘the land of unicorns’ (quote Stefan Osthaus)
  4. Stop over surveying. Feedback fatigue is a modern virus. Start watching more.
  5. Bring CEOs in contact with the real world in creative ways (Samsung’s channel: Email to CEO is a great example of this)
  6. Don’t forget we measure for the ‘why’ not the ‘how many’ verbatim from CX are a much more valuable source for improvement than a score of -3 or +28.
  7. Involve your people and take care of them like you take care of your customers. employee experience is not a nice to have, it’s a fundamental. Colleagues who feel the value of CX, deliver the value of CX.
  8. Use methodology and techniques like customer journey mapping for a structured approach. It’s amazing how many organisations map the customer journey from a ‘how it impacts our process’ perspective. Start with the customer problem, to arrive at a better outcome overall.
  9. Know your customer before starting other effort – not demographically but what makes them tick, what drives their choices and what fulfils them. Think ZMET.
  10. Think digital but with the customer experience in mind – not the technology. Digital first is really modern customer first. Don’t sacrifice engagement for effortless or satisfaction for self-serve.

Events are great to get a sense of where your industry is in it’s growth. I went through a storm of mixed feelings during the day. In the morning, I was happy to see 170 participants name tags. Compared to last year there were more titles and roles included in Customer Experience.  it’s a great sign that CX has arrived in the organisational setup.

Having said that I went to the state of shock at the podium discussion in the of the day: Were they seriously arguing which department (!) was best to lead CX in companies?  Sad but true – in times of discussing agile working ‘old world’ is still out there. We still have many who just don’t get it or see CX as a new model for a quick buck – beware of these pretenders!

There were some other moments which connected with me emotionally:

  • I had admiration for the guy from ThinkPen with his great visualisations of the key notes. My brain and I just love that kind of communication.
  • I was amused about Prof. Heinemann who is the digital optimist and her entertaining ‘show’ after lunch on why digitalisation is no revolution but more yesterday’s news as it is out there everywhere already. Although quite a few companies in Germany still think it´s a buzz word and do not align it with the purpose of their business. Mmmh… not so amusing!
  • Respect for all the companies who have the courage to and share their learnings like Stepstone, even though they have just started
  • I was thankful for the openness during the sessions as well as the breaks. Once again I experienced the people who were very enthusiastic on the matter of CX and eager to learn and share.
  • And not to also thank the team from MaritzCX for pulling together this event in times where time is limited and precious. Nothing is more worthwhile then talking to others who are battling the same grounds.

And finally, a take away from Markus Nessler’s presentation on Samsung’s path to superior CX: Online Channels upfront are great but in the end the trend is clear: Customer still love personal contacts – CX is clearly a people business! And that’s from a world leader in technology.

There are many CX events throughout the year. Pick which ones you go to wisely. And be prepared to share if you want to learn.

Posted by Karin Glattes, MD & CX Consultant, Lexden (Germany)

If you’d like to receive more articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our free monthly ‘Customer Experience Update’.

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

 

 

Advertisements

Applying small Customer Experience improvements to your business to make a BIG impact

Driving a positive behavioural change in customers is the surest way to increase their sustainable contentment and commitment to your business. We’ve seen this achieved when programmes focus on what really matters most to the customers and the business delivers best.

Of course setting the companies CX compass correctly means understanding that Customer Performance measures will mean for the business. For instance, no CFO worth their Masters degree in Economics is going to thank you for delivering a sparkly green looking dashboard showing industry leading promoter scores or top box customer satisfaction if they don’t correlate with profitability.

CEO’s are waking up to (or more often walking into) this reality in their business. If this sounds familiar, then efforts should be diverted to improving the customer performance measures to reflect efforts on CX which drive business profitability. In a study by Prof. Dr Phil Klaus, amongst companies who drive 600% ROI from their CX programmes, effective CX measurement was the No.1 contributing factor for success.

If you’d like to know more on this contact Christopher Brooks and reference 600% ROI.

If you are chartering the correct course, then it’s worth remembering that results from CX take time. So keeping stakeholders’ engagement and belief in CX is key. To do this we recommend small ideas which deliver a big impact (siBI).

I was speaking to a regular on the CX speaker circuit recently who said, ‘We do this all the time. We are always fixing stuff so it works for customers’. Beware, there is a clear distinction between improvements which reaffirm consumer’s choice of a brand versus ‘fixing stuff that was broken’. Not all realise this. However, ROI on ‘operational’ style fixes typically delivers only 125%; 4 times less effective than the vanguards achieve with branded experience.

nationwide2Here are 3 examples of small ideas which I feel demonstrate, in a small way, what the brand is trying to stand for through an enhanced experience.

Nationwide, a more considerate and caring building society takes the opportunity to ensure there is no mess left in the community from its cash machines.

It’s something all could do, but those who don’t have it in their DNA don’t.

I counted 4 other banks on our high street without this simple experience set up.

travellodge2Travelogical is the message from Travel Lodge. And this is a simple demonstration of logic. A basket of basic supplies which if you are so inclined you can take.

This not only reduces the effort and cost of staff dealing with customers requesting tea bags and sugar sachets, but it makes the budget hotel chain appear more generous than those perceived more premium.

Disneyland Paris in comparison provide a tea bag and coffee sachet per customer, per stay.

whopper2Finally, I saw this on a Burger King wrapper at Barcelona airport. Fast food chains have worked hard to demonstrate authentic and natural ingredients. What better way of stating it than on the wrapper from which is eaten. But actually stating it could backfire and have customers thinking why say it if you’ve got nothing to hide? So by making it part of the ‘what ingredients are in excluded from the order’, it allows the selection of natural ingredients which go in to make up the burger meal laid bare without stating them. Smart, simple and small.

They all share the ‘small’ in terms of investment as well as the ‘BIG’ in terms of demonstration of brand values. It’s that simple. Whilst they won’t achieve, ‘jump off the page’ unprompted positive verbatim they can be shared around the business as examples of quick, brand reaffirming experiences delivered for relatively little. Small ideas delivering Big Improvements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be upstanding please

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

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

Taking a rain check on skateboarding

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

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

The odd couple: banking & yoga

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

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

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

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director

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

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

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

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”.

umpqua

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.

mums

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 

How to start a Customer Experience Strategy: 4/5 Remember, once you are in, you are in!

I was approached recently at a conference and asked, ‘if we are starting out on a customer experience strategy, what are the key pieces of advice you would give a business? It made me think. The lessons we have learnt have ensured we don’t start off on the wrong foot. Having pondered I answered:

  1. Ensure those responsible for the customer experience have the right experience too
  2. If it’s the company that wants to be more customer-centric start with them, not the customer
  3. Understand the potential and the limits of customer experience early on
  4. Once you are in, you are all in and you are in for the long haul if you intend to profit
  5. Short cuts exist, resist. Only short lived programmes use them

4. Once you are in, you are all in and you are in for the long haul if you intend to profit

We typically find brands will move through many levels of customer experience improvement (see Branded Customer Improvement Model below) before they really reap the competitive advantage of customer experience investment. Some sectors require lesser effort; such as airlines and retail and some more; such as utilities and telecoms.

Either way it’s something that needs to be explained at board level if you are hoping to see the plan through. Expectations need to be managed. I recall a utility being informed by a major management consultancy return would be seen in 3 months. 3 years later and they are still at the foot of the customer satisfaction leagues.

Working through the levels allows the brand to make connections with the customer at an appropriate level depending on how broken the experience is. It may need to be on a functional level first. This means fixing the stuff that irritates customers the most – issues they probably consider an absolute basic for a business to trade in that sector. With these repaired and hopefully some credibility with customers restored the business can start to fulfill on a rational level (through efficiency and integrity) before ultimately developing an emotional connection with the customer through an enjoyable and differentiating relationship. When we say emotional we mean the brand is fulfilling the customers deep rooted inner drivers in life (such as achievement, growth and legacy); be these every day requirements or more significant purchases.

Understanding what matters most to customers is key in this respect. Functional fulfilment is extremely difficult to sustain a differentiated positioning on, which is why even the latest technology brands move from function to emotional connections.

customer triangle

Diagram: Customer Experience Improvement levels

Aiming low – less intrusion, moderate investment and stay in business

If you are in it to just fix negative feedback then the left hand side of the diagram should be the focus. Focus on replicating what the better practioners do and you will find complaints reduce and NPS scores improve (less detractors and more passives). I’d call this a passive strategy and anyone embarking upon it should point out its limitations to those approving it before you start.

Does it work? Yes – albeit a survival position rather than thrive. But well supported with an employee engagement programme to root out poor internal practices that lead to these low NPS or complaints, and an ongoing PR strategy reaffirming the firms adherence to sector standards for customer experience and you will probably get back what you put in.

If that’s the ambition avoid the right hand side of the diagram otherwise you will over engineer solutions and over invest in quality of customer experience improvements which other parts of the business haven’t signed up to replicating. This leads to an inconsistent experience which means the brand is ultimately compromised.

That might seem like a simple undertaking and whilst we have found functional projects like this that can last just a month when there is a specific problem to fix, there are still unforeseen barriers which take time and investment too. For instance MI may not be available or organised in a way that can be extracted to understand scale of impact and the type of consequential behavioural change in consumers occuring following poor customer experience. In this scenario, at best an analyst locked away for a couple of weeks is needed. More likely it means a small team of analysts, new analytics kit and bids for resource slots on an already over booked IT prioritisation schedule to get traction.

It’s also a challenge to get employees to commit to change if the fix is recommended in isolation of any CX vision. Made all the more challenging if reducing complaints and increasing NPS performance aren’t tied to employee performance.

We have seen industries such as financial services taking this approach when they’ve been needed to adopt new regulation (such as TCF). In these cases what passes for customer experience is that which will keep the business the right side of the regulator. Which is fine, but it’s not optimising the commercial and competitive advantage of customer experience. It also makes it harder to implement later because employees have seen the ‘quick-fix’ option previously employed.

Aiming high – more disruption and greater investment delivering sustainable returns

Setting out to differentiate on customer experience is life changing for a business. It’s a philosophy rather than a project. It also means every single action and intention is directed around a customer vision (key foundation stone for any CX strategy), which means outcomes are invariably built with customer betterment, colleague ease and business benefit baked in. It also means the business understanding what really matters to customers and building an experience which fulfils this is in a meaningful way that differentiates the brand firm it’s competitors. Which means no other can replicate it because it has the essence and the values of the brand baked in.

Each level passed through impacts the entire business. Jumping levels can be fraught with bear traps. For instance, if a third party is controlling a very basic IVR router and you pass over this to get to the call handling, which the business controls, efforts in this area will be undermined if the IVR router creates an initial poor customer experience. It seems obvious but too often businesses will jump to the ‘make a difference’ space without forensically analysing every step in the customer journey. When the cultural mind-set is set to ‘in it for the long haul’ the customer experience team have space to investigate these critical areas. So along with improvements it requires a heavy helping of supporting ‘culture engagement’ and ‘governance’.

If the ideas to improve customer experience are to land as intended and drive customer advocacy and loyalty (which drive the business performance) they also need to energise and inspire internal stakeholders along the way to see the value of putting customers first. This requires investment of time from HR, internal comms, the board, the continuous change team and many more. For the customer experience team to win over these stakeholders they need to demonstrate the business is ‘in it for the long haul’ so that training programmes can be updated, inductions reviewed, internal comms dominated etc etc.

But established, launched and managed correctly, the direction of travel is upwards in terms of reaching and winning business on a ‘differentiating’ model, upwards in terms of NPS and CSAT performance, upwards in terms being known for esteem and value and upwards in terms of Business Value Creation.

Business Value Creation for CX means – Lower cost to serve + attract better quality customers so reduce cost of acquisition + therefore able to divert marketing spend to nurturing, growing and retaining existing business.

Again a significant strategic shifts in thinking is  required. Customer Experience challenges conventional business models, so the customers experience team’s proposal must be clear and the board (and all those who are key to delivering an improved customers experience) need to be fully aware of the commitment they will need to make gain the riches. This is a challenge if you haven’t done it before.

So we’d suggest building a Target Operating Model with a few check points and contingency considerations built in (such as extra analytical support required allowance). It’s how we approach a new project (alongside the activities from the other 4 papers on starting a customer experience strategy). It will ensure the CFO, the CEO and the CMO know what they are signing up to and gain their much needed support when you start to make inroads and climb the pyramid.

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 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook  and Twitter @consultingchris.

My Christmas 2013 ‘Customer Experience’ Crackers

Like many I decided to switch off and enjoy the recent Christmas festivities with my family and left my work behind. Those who know me will know that whilst a worthy ambition, it’s usually compromised. However, this year I did it!

I spent two weeks with the family. But what that meant is that I also spent two weeks as a consumer, without my Lexden Customer Experience Strategist hat on.

cracker

As a consumer I found dozens of interactions which made me feel warmer or colder towards the brands I engaged with and subsequently more or less likely to use them again. So whilst I wasn’t strictly working, I did capture a few of the best and worst experiences (see also My Christmas 2013 ‘Customer Experience’ Turkeys blog) to provide you with inspiration and ideas for your own CX programmes.

Here’s my three favourite Christmas Crackers delivering the gift of a great branded experience which will live on long after the decorations have come down. Loving…

myringgo2MyRingGo | My wife, my two young boys and I planned a trip to see the Snowman at the Peacock theatre. Travelling in on the train we arrived at the station car park. We realised we had no change! Ahhhh. Then I noticed a sticker on the car park machine offering a phone service to buy a ticket. With a low level of faith in customer friendly mobile payments from experience, I was sceptical. But hat’s off to MyRingGo. I called and within two minutes the automated service had texted me confirmation that my parking ticket had been purchased. All for a supplement of just 20p on the ticket. The message also told me it would take just 30 seconds next time now they have my details (ensuring a repeat purchase).

But the real magic came when 10 minutes before the ticket expired I received a reminder and options to extend the ticket. Having been caught out before by traffic wardens, this was a revelation – a real customer advantage of the mobile over cash.

jlpJohn Lewis | Like most I could default to John Lewis to buy all Christmas goods, including alarm clocks, bears and hares. At the Bluewater shopping centre store John Lewis had managed to spill the TV ad out across the store. With a looping Lily Allen version of a Keane track and TV screens playing the ad it couldn’t be missed. And surprisingly not that nauseating. We then came across a wonderful experiential version of the ad in the store. The children out shopping with their parents were captivated, almost as much as the parents were!

premier innPremier Inn | We travelled to Staffordshire to see family and found the most convenient hotel was the Premier Inn. Given the low price I set my expectations low. But that was unnecessary, it was just fine. The most impressive proposition was a ‘silent please’ family ground floor. As a family we were put on this floor and asked to ‘Shhhhh’ between 7pm and 10am. Having stayed in hotels when our children were babies and been woken by guests not unreasonably chatting in the corridors at not unreasonable times, this idea is helpful when settling children for the night.

But it was the lovely touch of an extra spy hole for children on the door which I felt added fun to the experience. It was something for the kids which proved a great novelty.

A great and relatively low cost addition to reinforce the ‘family floor’ proposition.

These brands have created a positive association (which could lead to incremental spend) with me their customer. The John Lewis example demonstrating how to optimise the value of your traditional TV advertising, and Premier Inn highlighting how a well thought through integrated proposition works.

It would be good to think all brands are pushing forward in this way. But I have also written a blog on ‘My Christmas 2013 Customer Experience Turkeys’ suggesting some have quite a way to go!

We collect customer experience examples. If you’ve come across any which have amazed or impressed you, please forward them to me at christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com. We will periodically post and link them to you and your company.

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 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

The great customer experience practitioners know their place

Karl Albrecht, said “If you’re not serving the customer, you’d better be serving someone who is”. As one of the top ten richest men in the world and CEO of ALDI, he’s well qualified to comment on the importance of putting customer centricity at the top of the corporate agenda. He’s also a great role model for the commercial advantage of such a mission.

Putting the customer at the start and the heart of business strategy is something we at Lexden are committed to. Which means helping everyone involved in client commissions understand the following:

1) who the customer really is

2) helping the ‘back office’ understand their impact on the ‘front office’ customer experience

car hirePoint 1 may seem obvious, but when you think about where a hire company asks you to return a car, (typically their office) ask yourself is that at your convenience or theirs? It feels like they see the car as the one to look after.

A similar occurrence happens with some utility companies. Many in these business’ will claim because they have a legal obligation to tend to a meter, even if the user (what we might call the consumer) abandons it then that is their customer. This gets very complicated when it comes to customer experiences like moving home! When the customer moves home they can receive a communication saying ‘sorry you’ve left us’, when all they thought they were doing was moving down the road!

Point 2 is trickier and requires an expert stakeholder management approach. This primarily focuses on finding a common objective for those close to the customer and those a step or two away. An advanced technique is to create customer as a common currency. A broadband provider trade in NPS points internally. So ops know what 5 pts NPS means on their resources, as does the CFO on profitability, as does the brand manager on share of market.

The other way is to highlight to the back office operators the impact it has on customers. Bringing these observations (ideally through VoC verbatim or call recordings) to life really helps to hammer home the point.

Xerox has produced a great set of b2b ads which reinforce the point that a business is in business to meet its customers needs, not to do the back office stuff. This ancillary requirement comes as part of running a business but it’s irrelevant to customers. Xerox put it as follows, we get on with the stuff that keeps you from doing what you should be doing which is providing products and services which make customers lives better.

michellin manThe series also includes equally amusing ads for Ducatti. The insight I believe is a strong one and highlights why business’ do lose touch with their customers. 

We’ve often said every decision can be measured against the question, ‘is it taking us towards out customer vision?’ If the answer is yes then that must mean it’s a) better for customers b) sustainable for the business c) differentiating for the brand d) motivating for employees and e) operationally viable. Keep it commercial and you stand a chance of keeping customer on the agenda.

So as you see, it’s critical to put the customer at the heart of the decision-making, Otherwise CX improvements tend to be bias towards the improvement areas of those sitting round the table – especially as there can be several interpretations of who a customer is.

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