Tag Archives: customer first

How to get it ‘Carpetright’ for your customers

Continuing my series of interviews with heads of customer experience, I caught up with Toni Adams, Head of Customer Experience at Carpetright.

Based in Purfleet, Essex the retail giant serves almost 600 stores across Europe. From under one roof everyone including marketing, accounts, customer experience, the board, storage, customer service and cutting operates. They’ve come a long way in the last 30 years since the first store was opened in Canning Town, founded by Lord Harris in November 1988.

As I arrived at their offices I was greeted by a delightful receptionist who showed a personalised greeting I’m sure would be envied by any high street retailer. Toni, who joined Carpetright from Nationwide at the start of 2015 took me on a guided tour of the business, where I soon discovered the delightful welcome offered at reception was a repeated trait from everyone I met.

Following a trip to the new concept store close at hand and often visited by head office staff to remind themselves what customers experience, I wanted to find out how much of the recent return to profit had been down to a commitment to customer. 

Toni Adams CarpetrightCB: Thank you for an impressive tour. Earlier this year Carpetright posted an equally impressive return to profit across the group. Clearly you’ve invested in customer experience – is there a link between the two?

TA:

Absolutely. We have spent a lot of time reviewing our customer’s journey as we needed to better understand what our customers wanted. It has helped us make sure the productswe stock and the services we provide are right for our customers and that they are available when customers want them. We have adopted an end to end journey focus – moving from silo to seamless. We’ve come a long way in a short time,realising the key moments of truth and aligning processes to them. There is always more to do, such as systems work to further enhance CRM.

CB: You have joined Carpetright from Nationwide; a company recognised for their focus on customer service where much has been already complete. So how different were the challenges you faced when you started at Carpetright?

TA:

When I came to Carpetright I was looking forward to the new challenge. The culture needed to shift from sales to service. We have put in place a new customer feedback programme called; ‘Do We Measure Up?’ and we use what we hear to put the customer firmly at the centre of the business. One of the first things to change with this programme was to take ownership of customer issues from stores. We have over 142,000 surveys complete and 97% are satisfied or highly satisfied. ‘Do We Measure Up?’ is embedded in the business which allows us to focus on delivering our customer promise of doing the right thing, which relates to our brand values. This has also meant internally thinking about stores differently. We think and treat them as our customers, which in turn means they think more about their customers rather than worrying about level of support from head office.

CB: Is the expression ‘customer is king’ still relevant in retailing today?

TA:

Trends from The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) show satisfaction levels have been declining over the last five years. So customer expectations are increasing. Product, price and processes can be copied, but customers won’t forget how the experience made them feel, so it the emotional differentiator. People buy people first. So the challenge is to ensure that the spark and connection that comes from great people understanding customers is a constant rather than sporadic.

Carpetright

CB: From all you’ve said, CX is clearly becoming a priority at Carpetright? What would you say has driven this?

TA:

Customer Experience certainly is at the centre of everything here. Wilf (Walsh, CEO) is passionate about making this happen. He personally attended my interview which said to me he was serious about CX. We have a top down leadership approach surrounded by customer-centric people who reinforce our value of exceeding expectations by putting customers first. Our feedback shows this is happening. The content at our internal roadshows is now focused on the customer. In fact, this year’s annual conference is prioritising customers, whereas beforehand that would have been sales.

CB: Are there any specifics about your sector that makes creating a brilliant customer experience more challenging than other sectors?

TA:

We are in our customers’ homes. It’s a sensitive purchase so how we handle it is very important. We look to respect our customer’s home as if it was our own.

CB: Has digital changed how you deal with customers?

TA:

Customers understandably want to touch and feel carpets and other flooring products. But we are using digital to make other parts of the journey easier, such as researching products. Initiatives such as centralised estimating allow customers to book a slot for a Carpetright estimate based on who is available in the area, rather than the estimator being solely linked to the store they visited.We are particularly pleased with how well the ‘find an estimator’ initiative has worked which has meant customers are visited by an estimator earlier. We’ve been shortlisted for this year’s CX Retail awards, which is great for us.

CB: You’ve been involved in customer experience for much of your career, so what do you find most interesting about this area?

TA:

It’s part of who I am. My parents ran a hotel, so I grew up in a service environment. I’ve always been considerate of customers because of it. I love the challenge of making something work better than it did and seeing the results.

CB: So are you pleased with the progress Carpetright is making?

TA:

We’ve made good progress and huge changes. It’s a cliché but we are on a journey. We want to ensure our customers have a seamless, hassle-free end to end journey with great service each and every time. This means customer performance targets managed through HR, aligned to our customer promise to continue to drive the right colleague behaviours for our customers. Colleagues who have demonstrated ‘going the extra mile’ for customers’, have been nominated for our Customer Champion Award presented at the annual conference. Wilf rang each nominee up to tell them they had been shortlisted which he said was amongst the best things he’s done since starting. In fact, the winner will become a ‘customer ambassador’ for the year as an example to all others of how committed Carpetright is to putting customers first.

CB: It’s been great hearing about how the customer first philosophy invested in Carpetright is measuring up for customers. Is there any wisdom you have for anyone starting out on their own customer experience venture?

TA:

I’d say you need to decide what you want the customer experience to be and then you can build your business decisions with that in mind. Also make sure all areas work together from the start and throughout. It’s a company-wide thing rather than silo driven.

CB: Thank you for your time and candid answers. Best of luck with your future experience endeavours and award entries!

This article is published in this months CXM (Customer Experience Magazine) http://www.cxm.co.uk/ when-you-are-in-your-customers-homes-you-have-to-make-it-right/

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

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

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Customers will never forget how a great branded experience made them feel

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou (American poet, biographer and actress 1928-2014).

This sentiment has proved a useful yardstick when designing memorable customer experiences and compelling customer value propositions with clients. You know when you’ve got it right because customers state favouritism in feedback session such as, “I can’t quite express why I like them. They just seem to be in tune with what matters to me”.

brand heartHowever, measuring this emotional fulfillment is challenging. And I’d argue because it’s difficult to measure, it isn’t. Brands tend to be valued on awareness or share of market instead. Even if salience, relating to buyer memory structure, is on the brand dashboard it tends to be informed by recent promotions and the latest wave of advertising messaging. Businesses prefer to set their path by that which they can measure results against. Sadly a warm feeling inside because someone did something that left a lasting memory is not something a city analyst calculating brand equity will be able to make a company valuation on.

That said, customer experience does create an opportunity to deliver memorable engagements between customers and brands, which will remain in the consciousness for a while and the subconscious even longer.  And with measures such as NPS proving effective predictors of retention rates and profitability, it’s no wonder customer experience is seen as the next battlefield for differentiation.

Will it catch on? I think it will – I judged an awards last year where a market leading GI firm’s Commercial Director presented the case for CX as the reason their business fortunes had picked up.

So how do you deliver experiences or propositions which make customers ‘feel’ differently about a brand? For me it’s about three things:

  1. Understanding the situation your customer is in now
  2. Deciding how the better place you want them to be in feels like
  3. Devising how you get them there in a way that reinforces the nurtured values of your brand

Companies like Disney and Zappos do it naturally. For most it’s more of a commercially calculated decision, but that’s still okay. If the outcome makes the customer remember you favourably because of the way you made them feel, it’s a deeper connection than a 50% discount will ever achieve. As well as being a considerably more profitable one.

Here are a couple of examples which hopefully will leave a warm feeling inside and demonstrate how you can get massive cut through at very little cost by putting the customer’s feelings first.

Timpson’s & the unemployed

timpsonIf you’re out of work you can’t afford to be splashing out on dry cleaning. But at a job interview to rectify the situation, you want to give yourself the best possible chance of success. A freshly pressed dry cleaned suit or outfit can only help your cause and confidence. I’m not sure how they got there but this big hearted gesture from Timpson’s Dry Cleaners will live long in the memory of any out of work candidate who takes it up and lands that new job. As well attract applauds and a new customer or two in people like me acknowledging they don’t have to do this, but they do.

Ritz-Carlton & Joshi

This has almost become legend on the CX circuits but it’s worth rolling out a few more times yet. Having returned from a holiday at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Florida, Reilly’s Dad realised that his young son had left his favourite soft toy Joshi the Giraffe behind. He called the hotel and they located it. Having found it the staff could have said they would ship it back at cost. But instead they had some fun and at the same time justified Joshi’s extended stay to Reilly. Joshi was returned with an album of memories from his time ranging from Spa treatments, to restaurant meals, pool time and more. Reilly, his parents and now millions of social media viewers have a warmer feeling about Ritz-Carlton than they did before.

joshi2 joshi1

It’s that simple. Start with a scenario which is relevant to your customer and devise the best outcome you can achieve. Then worry about how to make it happen. It’s amazing where it can take you and just how long it will last in the hearts and minds of your customers.

For more on brand impact of customer experience try this presentation made by Lexden in 2014 to the Financial Services Forum.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

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.

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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.