Tag Archives: customer engagement

Is your black Friday CX embarrassing the other 364 days?

So, we’ve accepted black Friday is actually a 3-7 day sale, with retailers telling us on their promotions exactly how many days a day lasts in their world. Some managing to bend a 24 time frame seven fold. So, it’s not a good start, we have a sale, that starts with a lie. At least it’s now poor cousin, the January Sale, had a bit more integrity in it’s non-defined description.

Also, what does it say when the BBC lead with an item on Black Friday from the advertising watchdog saying beware! Warning on ‘misleading’ Black Friday deals. 

Image result for black friday madness 2018

Source: KnowTechie

There are a host of examples where customers have been disappointed by the quality of the sale:

  • Pressurised into tracking countdown sale clocks
  • Pre-saving and paying for items which disappear from stock on the day
  • Ads promising sales for them to not materialise on the day
  • Fake online review (which can be bought as well)
  • Hourly price changes
  • Fake sites (copy brand ID of genuine sites but payments page changes)

Let’s step back for a second. Many organisations talk about ‘putting customer first’ and invest in continuously improving the quality of the experience. After all, CX is a significant contributor (more than price) for customers choosing one brand over another.

However, when it comes to Black Friday it’s as if it becomes ‘all bets are off’, with compromises experienced by customers as overwhelmed companies struggle to maintain a ‘sales with the service’ standard.

As any behavioural psychologist would explain better than me, when we are caught in the moment we do not always emotionally process our actions which clouds our decision making. But afterwards, when we look back we assess more clearly what we traded for that gain. And sometimes we don’t like our decision or even recognise the version of ourselves that made those decisions. We feel cheated and we feel cheap. We don’t feel that great about ourselves when that’s the outcome. We remember how that felt to ensure we can avoid it in the future.

We can’t ‘feel’ a discount. It was a contributing factor to a decision but it’s not an emotion. But we can ask, ‘how did that purchase experience make me feel’? And we will remember.

If the answer is that the experience was less than great due to misleading sales info, a lack of or a poor response from an over capacity customer service, the expectation by the company for us to exchange lots of contact details for future promotions getting in the way of the purchase, distracting up-sell techniques or a problem with payments going through (to name a few), then we start to challenge our decision. And with so many options, we may even decide that the retailer is not for us. This may be an unfair representation of their normal customer experience. if we caught the retailer when they were stretched. But that’s the gamble they take when you compromise CX on Black Friday.

If the retailer sacrifices CX for sales at this time, they have to accept that’s exactly how the customer will see them in the future; a company you can get a bargain from if you don’t care how they treat you. So, when the black Friday fog has passed, the customer will look elsewhere.

To me, and the 50% of others according to PwC, the potential of a bargain isn’t worth the  risk of an impaired experience and destroying confidence and trust in brands who have worked hard to win a place in my heart over the rest of the year.

Related image

It’s not just customers who step out of the rush, retailers chose to as well.

So, will there be winners on the day? Of course. There will be those consumers who get the item they always wanted cheaper, there will be those who get a few extra items they’d normally ignore at a better price and there will be retailers who shift stock they haven’t done until now.

But the real winners are customers who experience a quality purchase experience. And those retailers who prioritise customer experience over a sale, even on Black Friday (well done – you know who you are). Because come the consumption hangover, we will then chose which relationships we value, and it wont be decided on the transaction alone.

Posted by

Christopher Brooks, Lexden, The Customer Experience Practice.

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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.

Did anyone notice it was my birthday?

So today I turn 43. Ouch. Well actually less ouch and more wahay! That’s how I feel today. With a wonderful family, some great friends and heading a business which focuses on helping brands make customer experience work for them, I’m doing what I enjoy, so I am looking forward to the next year.

I’ve had a stream of well wishing LinkedIn, voicemail, text and emails so far. Italy, London, Latvia, Edinburgh, Australia – as far and wide as I could imagine messages have reached me. And with the school run still a priority even on this momentous occasion, a table full of cards and presents waiting at home when I return this evening for a special birthday dinner. It’s a day I look forward to and moments of it I will remember forever.

In fact, most media has been active in congratulating me. I clicked on Google and was welcomed with this simple but effective personalised message:

google birthday

 

How wonderfully simple. An opportunity to tailor content to me (and the other 23rd Februarians) and they took it.

So I then thought, how many other brands know my age and are always trying to find an angle to create relevance and cut through? They are always trying to hit me with messages relating to stuff of theirs I’ve looked at but not bought. I wondered if they’d managed to connect their business model to my world and recognise it was my birthday in their CRM programmes?

Of course not. CRM doesn’t stand for ‘Christopher Really Matters’. So unless I’ve popped up on a ‘he should be buying this widget he browsed for 2 seconds over 10 days ago’ list, or similar, I’m not of value to them today. To prove my point here are two of the most prolific data rich e-marketers communications which hit my inbox yesterday, at about the same time my wife was wrapping presents and boys writing cards:

amazon birthday

expedia birthday

 

 

 

 

Missing the art of personalisation

In fact, Amazon are asking me to buy gift cards for someone else! Here was a great opportunity to personalise content to me in a light-hearted, but emotionally connecting way. They miss their moment. Or rather the CRM algorithm does.

However, when I’m browsing a site, the company can manage to collect every impression I make and serve that content back to me as an offer I’ve obviously missed. I’m not quite sure how this logic stacks up. That would be like assuming we never take a wrong turn when driving, or we never say anything we don’t mean, or we are never inquisitive.

But who is to blame for this shortfall? is it the CRM or brands fault, or is it the people who instruct the decisions on personalisation?

I attended an airline conference last year where one of the ‘industry expert’ facilitators barked out the virtues of passenger personalisation as being the future for airlines. Along with empathy, I could buy this point. But then his colleagues proceeded to share an array of ‘made up bundles’ of packages of airline benefits they have created, which cost the customer more but actually give them less. And with a wink of his eye finished with a, “Now that’s personalisation”. To which the audience applauded. Oh dear.

The true art of personalisation

If you want to get it right, leave the CRM system at the door, leave the marketer intent on tripping the customer up at home and start thinking about how to really connect with consumers when and how it really matters to them. Because, it really doesn’t matter if we all get the same thing. If it feels personal to me, then it is.

Thank you Google; you’ve gained a few advocacy points today. All the others who missed their chance, remember it’s my world and on the whole I choose (based on how they behave on days like today), which brands live in it.

dragonTo finish here’s a little personalisation that can go along way. It’s an example of how to deliver a standard message in a personal way. The customer has completed the ‘any other request’ box with a cheeky, ‘draw a dragon on the box’ comment. So that’s what the pizza firm did. No doubt increasing advocacy and sales from customer who will be more committed because of the personal attention.

Happy birthday to me.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant Lexden.

The Financial Impact of Customer Experience – discover why 97% of companies fail to reap the rewards of CX. Webinar hosted by Syngro and featuring Dr Professor Phil Klaus and Christopher Brooks.

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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 

Should have been a shoe in

It’s staggering how often we, as human beings and customers, do things and make decisions which do not seem to make sense yet, at a deeper more emotional level, just feel right to us.  Consider what I did yesterday.

At lunchtime I was walking down the road when I passed a well known, reasonably up market shoe shop chain.  I have needed a new pair of shoes for ages now but, being a bit fussy, I had not yet found the style and brand I wanted.  I really like my current pair but they are close to falling apart so it is getting about as urgent as buying shoes can ever be.

It was a bit of a scrum in the shop since they are in the middle of one of their seemingly quite regular sales.  However I saw a pair of Merrells that were pretty much what I have been after, albeit at full price.

When the pleasant, highly competent member of staff returned, however, she informed me that they did not have the size 8 which I required.  Disappointing.  “Not a problem though, sir.  We can order a pair in for you and if you don’t want them, you don’t have to buy them.”  Not ideal but, given how long I had been looking, perfectly acceptable.  She returned with a form to write my details on and said that the shoes should be in store in the following week.  We filled it out.

All good.  But then a surprise- she asked me for £20 as a deposit to make the order.  Her colleague chimed in with “it’s so we know you will come back for them”.

Hmm.  I told her I did not see why I needed to give the £20 at this point.  She said that was the only basis they could order it in and there was no way round it.  Before I knew it, I had smiled and walked out.  Despite the fact that I have been looking for that type of shoe for a couple of months.  Despite the fact that they could have sourced them for me within 7 days.  Despite the fact that I am still without a pair of shoes that I want to buy.  I still walked out.

As Star Trek’s Dr Spock would say to Kirk:  “Illogical, Captain”.

I have been giving it some thought.  What caused me to happily behave in this apparently irrational manner and for the retailer to lose a sale?  Because that is the commercial impact of what happened.  On reflection, I think there are two reasons:

  1. When they asked for £20, it took me completely by surprise.  Because they did not have my size, I had mentally attuned myself to the fact that I would be walking out of the door without a new pair of shoes and without having paid any money.  So when they asked for money, it threw me.  They had put up an obstacle to purchase-the opposite of the type of ‘nudge’ described in Thaler and Sunstein’s book which can influence our behaviours.  It gave me a reason to say no and back out.
  2. When they said ‘it’s so we know you will come back for them’ it annoyed me.   I felt that they had questioned my integrity and I really did not like it at quite a deep level.   I felt (as opposed to thought) offended that they were not taking the fact that I was in store, trying to buy their shoes, as commitment enough that I would come back the next week to buy them.  In myself, I know that paying over £20 would not make me more or less likely to come back later.

I think it is this second point which was the key driver for my behaviour.

Rationally, everything said to pay the £20, go back the following week, pick up the shoes and start using them.  But my own deeper feelings which surfaced via the comment overwhelmingly trumped rationality and I walked out.

And what of the commercial impact?  In amongst the heavy discounting of their sale, the shop lost a full price purchase because of something they did which made me feel not quite right.  I doubt whether the £20 they wanted is in any way material to them in terms of cashflow or paying suppliers.  And even if I did not come back, it feels that having a pair of size 8s in one of their regular product lines is pretty much business as usual for a shoe shop.  It is simply an internal process which has had an impact on one of their potential customers. I am not saying that the assistant could have known how I would react (I am not sure I did), nor that everyone would have reacted as I did.  I am just saying that their process directly contributed to a lost sale which was surely not their intention.

This kind of thing happens all the time.  Businesses put in processes, talk to customers in certain ways and offer products and services which people either do not connect with or, as in this case, actively push them away.  Sadly, it happens mainly because businesses just look at what is best for themselves rather than their customers.  But it also happens when businesses only look at a consumer’s rational motivations.  It happens when they fail to understand what is really driving the customer’s decision making, what it is that makes them tick and what type of activity will drive through into their hearts as opposed to their minds.

People simply do not make decisions on a purely rational basis.  In fact, people mostly make their decisions on a subconscious, emotional level.  There is a wealth of scientific evidence, thinking and cutting edge research techniques such as the Harvard originated ZMET, which we have used at Lexden, which helps businesses understand, at a deep level, why we all make the decisions we do.  This is where more of our customer research efforts need to focus if we want to develop products and services which will actually resonate with consumers.

In the meantime, sadly, I’ll be going out this lunchtime to look for those shoes.  But if feels right.

 

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 T: +44 (0) 9768 316548.  And you can follow us on Facebook LinkedIn, or Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 25 – Darning socks

Sewing is not something I have ever given much thought to.  That is until I read a really nice story about sewing machines (which, I might add, is not something I normally do either), which illustrates the idea of unordinary perfectly.

Jo-Ann Fabrics, a retailer in the craft and fabric space, wanted to sell more sewing machines.  Presumably this is no different to any of their competitors or, indeed, any organisation. After all, when in business is it not about selling more things to more customers more frequently?

Where Jo-Ann Fabrics approached things differently to others in in a simple premise: they actively pursued a strategy to understand their customers and what would work for them.  Now, don’t just skip over that last sentence.  Read it again.  It is definitely unordinary for an organisation to pursue active strategies and tactics to get under the skin of what their customers do and what motivates them.  Most organisations talk about it; very, very few do something about it.  The important point is to know how simple it can be to do.

Jo-Ann Fabrics used their website as a mechanism to understand what would appeal to their customers.  They did this by making the website a test and learn laboratory whereby different customers would automatically and randomly be shown different offers, website designs and tone of voice.  They looked at what customers actually did, rather than what they said they might do in a focus group.  From this, and following through to which customers purchased (or did not), they were able to gain insight about which overall propositions were most successful.  This, in turn, enabled them to think deeply about what was motivating their customers in order to hone how they communicated with them.

This led to quite a surprising offer for customers.  A deal which, on the face of it, sounds pretty dull and not very good:  Buy one sewing machine and get a second one at 20% off.  However this deal was successful-and not just in selling more machines.

But why? Well, at some level, customers evidently found the prospect of saving 20% on a second sewing machine worth having. However, generally, customers are not going to want two sewing machines and 20% is not exactly an awe inspiring discount.  The point is the offer acted as a catalyst for these customers to talk to friends, relatives and colleagues, any of whom may or may not have been in the market for a sewing machine.  It is no different to the classic ‘member get member’ schemes which you see in all sorts of industry but are often not very successful (certainly the ones I have seen in banks).  So why was this one successful?

I think it comes back to customers’ more deep seated reasons for pursuing a hobby such as sewing.  Making curtains or repairing clothes fits very much in a nurturing emotional space for people.  It relates back to the ‘gatherer’ role of our prehistory and because this is so deep rooted in our psyches, connects at a far more emotional level than the pure rationality of ‘20% off’.  What this means is that people really want to connect with others around this type of activity.  They want to share with others what they get out of it and they want others to (emotionally) benefit in the same way that they do.  It’s why you see sewing classes and clubs.  At Lexden, we have repeatedly seen with certain audience types that craftsmanship, in the form of activities like sewing, often has a significant place in their lives.  And these people often interact very closely, and have strong influence, with others who hold similar values to themselves-a lot more so than for other audiences.

When you know the above, deciding how to communicate with these people in a way that will resonate with them is much simpler.  It will just ‘feel right’ to them.  So when Jo-Ann Fabrics put this understanding together with an offer they had already observed working, the commercial benefits were multiple.  They had people finding time in their busy lives to have conversations about Jo-Ann Fabrics and about their sewing machines.  They had multiple amateur salespeople closing deals for more products.  They tapped into a pool of brand new seamsters who may not have even realised they wanted to have a sewing machine.  They have converts who will come back to buy more fabric, buttons and cotton thread (okay, so this is where my desire to know about sewing starts to diminish).

Looking at customers from a different startpoint, in order to get to a different result.  Incorporating a deep seated understanding of what makes customers tick.  An obvious and simple solution (in hindsight).  All stitched (sorry) together to give multiple benefits to the organisation.  Pretty unordinary.

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.