Tag Archives: Customer insight

What will the 2017 Voice of the Customer priorities be?

Voice of the Customer (VoC) has emerged as one of the most invaluable tools for companies to prioritise investment, remove inefficiency and create a differentiating experience for their customers.

Commissions from clients, have meant we at Lexden have had the opportunity to review the most worthy customer feedback platforms and support set-ups available. We often find from the dozens available on a few truly meet the clients spec, and then when you add in key ‘soft’ criteria such as working style and sector understanding one or emerge.

It has helped us advise clients on which platform will give them the results they need to drive CX forward in the business. A poor VoC set up can suffocate CX potential in an organisation

It has also led us to creating Client Only VoC discussion groups, where VoC and CX managers meet and discuss their challenges, their vendors and drive out solutions amongst themselves. The non-compete, free gathering has proven useful to those with established programmes to understand the value of new techniques and technology as well as to those starting out to understanding how to avoid the pitfalls.

We have are not aligned to any tech vendor, so can objectively facilitate the group to ensure all benefit. One of the discussion areas is the future of VoC, so we have pulled together a questionnaire to get a view on what VoC practitioners believe 2017 priorities will be.

If you manage or play an active role in customer feedback in your organisation (clients only), please can you contribute your opinions to the 4 question survey below.

Results will be published as an anonymous representation of VoC practitioners in an article The Customer Experience Magazine in January 2017. Once you’ve completed the survey, if you would like results sooner, please email on christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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

An interview with Head of Customer Strategy & Insight, Stephen Plimmer, Kent Reliance

Stephen Plimmer

In a continuation of Lexden’s series of interviews with Customer Experience leaders, MD Christopher Brooks caught up with Kent Reliance’s Head of Customer Strategy & Insight, Stephen Plimmer to better understand the role of CX in the business.

Christopher Brooks (CB): OneSavings Bank was the toast of the FS Sector at this year’s Financial Services Forum’s Marketing Effectiveness awards, collecting the Best Customer Experience Award, among other accolades. Does the recognition come as a surprise or is this something you’ve been working towards for some time?

Stephen Plimmer (SP): For us, this was never a completely new way of thinking. The Marketing function always understood how important customer loyalty and experience was. But as a function, knowing that isn’t enough. The whole organisation has to be on-board and understand it and that’s what we’ve been working on over the last few years.

We’re lucky in that we have fantastic customer facing staff, both in branches and over in our call team. How we improved our customer service was a key part of our Customer Experience story and the recognition is all to do with their dedication and enthusiasm. Customer Service is such a key part of the overall customer experience.

Our call team always wanted to deliver exceptional service, to go beyond expectation and to embrace Customer Experience Management. Listening to customer feedback helped empower them to do so.

CB: Would it be fair to say OneSavings Bank is a relatively new brand for consumers? With a very busy banking services market well established and a host of distinctive new entrants arriving, what is OneSavings Bank bringing that others have failed to do?

SP: OneSavings Bank trades as Kent Reliance, a brand with over 150 years of heritage. When we started out on the Customer Experience programme we needed to know how important that brand name was to people and what it meant. We conducted several focus groups and surveys and aside from spitfires and the White Cliffs of Dover (something people always associate with the country) the recurring themes were around words like traditional, heritage and trusted.

There was a clear affection for the brand and of course at the time, most high street banking brands were considered quite the opposite. We discovered that many customers wanted a brand they felt they could trust, a need for those values. We just needed to make sure we understood and lived up to them. It was from this research we were able to start planning our Customer Experience programme – by setting clear objectives.

CB: Does a digital age increase the challenge for FS brands to deliver a great customer experience, or can it improve things?

It’s a fast evolving sector, mobile technology, greater expectations over speed of transacting; instant gratification and confidence in security are some of our greatest challenges. It is an incredibly competitive market now, with lots of new entrants. It’s about understanding your customer’s requirements and, if you can, staying one step ahead of that. I think that can only improve things but we’re not losing sight of the fact that not all our customers need great customer service delivered only online. Many expect the same level of service in branch and over the phone. It’s about delivering that consistency of service across all channels.

CB: ICS (Institute Customer Satisfaction) figures show that customer satisfaction has dropped despite more firms investing in it, so do you think this is a reflection of customer expectations increasing, a focus on the wrong things by companies or is there something else to consider here?

SP: I think expectation levels have certainly played a part. I also think that although Customer Service is an incredibly important part of delivering a great customer experience, I think many people still think customer service and customer experience are the same thing.

Customer Experience is in fact the sum of the whole, customer service playing an important part in that, but it is also about brand perception, relationship building, understanding your customers – what they like and dislike. It’s about delivering the brand qualities consistency across all channels and during the entire customer life cycle.

CB: Collecting the FSF’s Awards for CX demonstrates it’s a key priority of your overall proposition, how important overall would you say it is for OSB?

SP: It’s very important. We continuously engage with our customers and measure experience at every touchpoint. For Kent Reliance this has enabled a business transformation rather than a marketing function revolution. The crucial part was getting all customer facing functions on-board, otherwise you are just producing metrics. Unless all customer facing functions, and ultimately the business strategy units understand what customers were telling us, then key indicators are pointless.

CB: With trust from consumers being typically low in FS, do you think delivering great CX in financial services has its unique challenges other sectors do not face?

SP: There are so many alternatives in the FS sector now that product differentials and relying on customer inertia (as some probably still do) is no longer going to cut it. You need to be easy to deal with and you need to understand just how your customers want to deal with you. Gaining that understanding and then secondly delivering it is key.

CB: Do you think CX is a viable approach to demonstrate and deliver a more trusted brand to consumers?

SP: Trust was one of the key words associated with our brand and one of the traits we are naturally always working hard to retain. Our Customer Experience programme looks at these brand traits and makes sure we keep coming back to them in all we do.

CB: Can you provide an outline on your winning entry and why you think the judges saw merit in your submission beating retail giants RBS and Santander among others?

SP: The entry was around how we had engaged with our customer base, understanding their perceptions of us and what was important to them. This knowledge then prioritised operational change projects and channel development.

When the guest speaker joked at the start of the evening about a poor experience he once had was probably because the hotel group in question had put an accountant in charge of customer experience – the joke wasn’t lost on my colleagues around the table. But actually, my management accounting background has proved incredibly helpful when it comes to Customer Experience programme. From the very start I wanted to track and prove the impact the programme was having. And I think it was that evidence and the clear targets we set ourselves that made the difference.

CB: What would you say has been the key milestones or step changes at OSB in bringing customers more to the forefront of business decision making?

SP: Understanding what our brand meant to customers – existing and potential new ones. From that setting clear objectives to make sure the actual experience was consistent with what our customers wanted.

We gathered an in depth understanding of our customer base, from which we could segment and better understand their needs and how they wanted to transact with us.

We worked with a third party survey provider which allowed us to automate and expand surveying, also providing us with alert functions to be able to gather feedback across all channels and touchpoints – some in real time.

CB: Your CEO, Andy Golding has been associated with some more innovative Customer-led financial services companies in recent times. How important is it to have a CEO who backs the customer too?

SP: Within Andy’s first week here he wanted to sit down with key internal stakeholders and understand what our customers were saying about us; what they liked and disliked and how they rated each channel. Since then, customer feedback has helped prioritise all operational changes – what the operational managers needed to change or improve. He receives detailed customer MI, not just metrics but verbatim – what his customers are actually saying about the business.

We needed the whole business on-board if our customer experience programme was to be a success and having a CEO who feels passionately about delivering great customer service naturally helps convince people.

CB: What would you say is your proudest moment so far at OSB?

SP: There are many projects and initiatives that we’ve been a part of, but I would say the work we did with one of the call teams stands out.

New regulations across the mortgage market led to the call team struggling to answer even the simplest of customer queries; this led to poor CX metric scores and customer frustration. Working with various teams from across the business we were able to provide the call team members with training and simple to follow guides for dealing with customer calls. From call monitoring and understanding the issues customers were facing, we were able to improve the call team’s score dramatically; literally overnight. The call team were able to deliver a far better service which made them more confident which in turn we could see made a very positive impression on our customers.

The team are still improving and learning. It was a fantastic ‘quick win’ which really got them engaged with the customer experience programme.

CB: So the journey has started, what’s next for OSB and what can we expect to see you doing to wow your customers?

SP: More employee engagement, we are redefining our desired employee behaviours and making sure they are aligned to the brand image.

We are also increasing the research programmes, competitor analysis and using NPS from a more strategic perspective.

CB: Who do you admire most in terms of CX – either FS or beyond, and why?

SP: Some of the names here will probably be of no surprise, but in my experience it’s Amazon and John Lewis. Amazon make it easy to transact with and in terms of the whole business brand experience it’s John Lewis. For me, it’s the whole end to end process and in particular post sales. I’m confident that even if there was a problem post sale – it would get resolved. It’s about staff delivering the brand and ease of transaction.

CB: We are talking customer experience; can you give me a personal example of brilliant customer experience from any part of your life, not just financial services, you can recall you really liked and remember?

SP: I always struggle to recall a brilliant experience; like many consumers I can usually recall bad ones very easily. A certain laptop/tablet manufacturer springs to mind.

CB: So getting it right for customers clearly matters to you at OSB. How do you keep track of what matters most to customers? Are these enduring or changing needs?

SP: As we’ve said, this is a fast moving sector with lots of new entrants. For us, it was always more about the verbatim, monitoring shifts in verbal feedback patterns to know first what our customers wanted, liked or disliked and then from acting on that how that changed customer sentiment. Not just a score. A score is just a way of tracking, but it doesn’t tell you why it is what it is and how to change it.

We have also recently launched an online focus group. A panel of customers that we can engage with on specific topics. This allows us to research a new product concept or test new literature to make sure we are getting it right.

We also produce detailed journey maps, into which we put customer sentiment, scores measured at various touch points and data from the complaints team. We then use these maps when looking at key journeys with operational managers so that we can see how we can improve things – see what the pain points are for customers and how we can make these better. Sometimes this is as simple as making a letter clearer but then sometimes the whole process is re-engineered.

CB: Finally, there are many firms just waking up to CX (customer experience). What wisdom would you give anyone starting out on their venture?

SP: Have clear objectives by gaining a deep understanding of current perception of your brand and how this compares to where you want to position it. Let the voice of the customer prioritise change and get buy-in from the highest level.

Also, demonstrate some quick wins, if there is mistrust of CX Strategy then demonstrating how effective it can be helps change perceptions. This doesn’t have to be a profit measure or a traditional CX metric, but more helpful is when you can evidence that you have reduced call wait times or complaints about a specific process – these are real impacts for both customers and staff.

Finally, make sure you take everyone on the journey with you – staff and customers.

Many thanks to Stephen and we wish him and Kent Reliance continued success.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, MD, Lexden, Independent Customer Experience Consultants.

Beware of the vanity trap of customer experience – part 1

Beware of the vanity trap of CXI’ve always felt the Greek tragedy of Narcissus would make an excellent addition to the national curriculum. I think the story of the hunter known for his beauty who was trapped into worshipping his own reflection in the river until he died, would be a helpful reminder to those making choices based on looks rather than learning. 

However, I think having seen a few Narcissus moments recently brands could perhaps do well from reading the fable too. 

I am talking about those who spend time promoting their customers satisfaction or net promoter scores. There are a number of shortfalls in this ‘low budget’ marketing stunt which perhaps is lost between the insight team, the CX team and the marketers. That said, i think consumer’s see straight through it.

1. Love me, love me, say that you love me

Customer feedback is the most valuable of commodities. True CX vanguards know it’s not the score, but what contributed to the score that matters. How the company made the customer feel or how they delivered is what mattered most to customers in such a fulfilling way. It is these experiences that keep the company ahead, not the score. All this message is saying, ‘They love me. They Love me’. Memories of John Hurt’s portrayal of The Elephant Man come flooding forward. It’s all very ugly. 

2. Scoring would have been easier

I accept sometimes promoting scores is a corporate comms way of appeasing or impressing regulators and shareholders, respectively. Although someone should mention it to them that customers see (through) this stuff too. However, the shame of it is that there was a message in their which all stakeholders would value. 

Look beneath the veneer of a score and you will find fabulous content. Real customers state why they scored the company higher and how it has changed their behaviours. The caveat here is that these insights will only be forthcoming if real time feedback has been set up with closed loop case management capabilities and customers are informed of benefit of improvements. Which then brings me back to the point of this section. 

Beware of the vanity trap of CX 1

We have worked with brand agencies who find the detail of experience improvements too dull to convert into amazing communications, choosing analogies or celebrities to do the job instead. We work with end customers who are motivated by the former and switch off at the later. As a former brand planner, i know there is a balance. But if you put customer experience as a tick box on your churn or exit survey you will soon see the value of promoting what achieves the 95% rather than promoting the percentage. 

 3. Oops i did it again!

I am always amused by the way some organisations calculate satisfaction. As a paying customer, i have always viewed my definition as the correct one and even as someone who creates, manages and delivers voice of the customer’s programmes as one of the CX services we provide at Lexden, I still default to an elite band of academics who have spent years cultivating the most reliable articulation of customer assessment of experience. They have identified 25 different attributes (not 24 0r 26) which account for over 80% of a customer’s commitment to a brand relationship. This compares to less than 1% accountability or NPS or CSAT. That’s not a typo! (contact me if you need to hear more on this). 

This doesn’t stop companies choosing the slimmest of views, ‘are you satisfied’ or ‘will you recommend us to others’ and putting it on the most senior of dashboards. CEO’s can lose their position when the penny drops for those around him. 

Judging satisfaction based on what you do well rather than what drives customer commitment and contentment is pure vanity. I’ve never judged satisfaction on the number of routes a low cost airline has or the punctuality of planes landing on tarmac. These things have no bearing on my consideration of whether I use that airline again. Yet, I read they are No.1 for satisfaction on these criteria – oh dear. I can’t see that’s healthy for customers or the company either, especially as the experiences which drive true satisfaction under perform. 

CX is not a game, it’s a serious busy model (although ironically, ramification is a good way to get CX embedded in the business) where vanity has no place. Business leaders should look to drive better customer performance rather then chase promoters. 

There are many more points on this topic of CX vanity, so watch out for part 2. 

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 http://www.lexdengroup.com.

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.

Air Travel Customer Experience: Next battleground for aviation businesses

 

ACE

The air travel market has experienced dramatic changes over the past decades; it’s less than a century since the Wright Brothers first flight, air travel became the most popular and the safest mode of transport in the world, carrying more than 3 billion passengers annually. However, they constantly struggle for profits. In the Air Travel market the customer has all the power, with a plethora of carriers to choose from. That is why, Customer Experience is the key to success in this industry.

Customer Experience will be the next battleground for aviation businesses, which constantly has to strive for passengers in one of the most competitive industries in the world. Due to the extremely high level of competition, which leads to dismal profits, aviation executives who constantly have to maintain operational efficiency, feel that focusing on customer experience will not add any value to their business. But this is wrong and old thinking. Only business executives who do not understand the customers of today would think that experiences do not matter and unfortunately we can see results of that, because according to one study, the airline industry ranks in the bottom 4 per cent in customer satisfaction. In order to turn things around, airline executives must make long-term customer loyalty the primary focus of their business, and not price, because only then they can achieve sustainable growth.

Focus and investments in Customer Experience will lead to true airline differentiation, which in turn would lead to gaining market share, that results in optimising profitability and creating a long-term loyalty. The golden circle of Customer Experience and Loyalty will not only increase airlines profit, but also at the same time create loyal followers who would be willing to pay premium price.

Airlines have to realise that focus on Customer Experience is not just wishful thinking from consultants, but it is an unavoidable process that takes places across the business world, and airlines are already lagging behind. In order to stay relevant in today’s world, the customer has to be in the centre of the organisation. Only the customer has the power to transform the business and build it into something great.

Airlines are not unique businesses; they do not operate in a bubble where no other business is alike. Nowadays, airlines like all other businesses have to actively compete for customers. Thus the best starting point for any airline executive is to build on best practices from other industries like retail, hospitality and gaming.

One example that  illustrated the disconnection between passengers and airlines and how much they can learn from the hotel industry, was when i flew a few times on my birthday. Despite the fact that my passport and my personal information has been checked several times at different points during the journey, no-one noticed that it is was my birthday. However, when checking into a hotel, I was offered a free glass of champagne at reception and a free room upgrade as a birthday gift. If hotels can do it relevantly easy, why can’t airlines with their terabytes of passenger data? Offering a customer a glass of champagne or free chocolates on their birthday would not cost a lot, but it would create an experience.

Airline executives have to do their homework and build Customer Experiences from the foundations in order for it to yield high and sustainable returns. They simply can’t omit some steps and only pick strategies selectively. Only when there are stable enough foundations, then airlines can focus on true brand and experience differentiation. Really, airline executives need to realise that Customer Experience is the most important and profitable growth investment opportunity in the airline industry today.

This is just the first of a series of entries, on the importance of Aviation Customer Experience and different strategies that airline executives might use in order to achieve true and long-lasting passenger loyalty. Air travel has never been as competitive as it is now, thus aviation really needs to fully grasp the importance of customer experience.

As always, I welcome any suggestions, questions and interactions from you and would be happy to chat more about it if anybody would like to get more information how to gain loyalty from air travellers.

Written by Julian Lukaszewicz, (ACE) Airtravel Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

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 Lexden Group.

 

 

 

AN INVITATION TO LEXDEN’s FINANCIAL SERVICES CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MASTERCLASS

fs event.emfFS CX MASTERCLASS

On 30th October 2015, Independent Customer Management Consultants Lexden are hosting a half day FS CX Masterclass at the Association of British Insurers offices in Central London.

As someone who reads our blogs on customer experience, we would like to invite you to join us on the day.

The half day event is designed for financial services practitioners to benefit from a selection of thought leading presentations covering a variety of insightful and inspirational customer experience topics to help clients get ahead.

Speakers topics include (full details below):

  • How to measure customer experience profitability 
  • Practical examples of CX working for FS brands
  • How to get ahead of others in today’s cluttered FS CX space
  • What great looks like for FS customers and how to deliver it

If you are interested in benefiting from this opportunity, please complete the contact form details below and we will reserve your complimentary place.

Speakers include:

phil klausWorld renowned speaker, author and Professor of Customer Experience, Professor Dr Phil Klaus. Phil holds multiple professorships around the globe. His award-winning research has appeared in numerous books, and a wide range of managerial and academic journals. His areas of expertise include customer experience. Phil will reveal the uncomfortable truth about conventional CX performance and share a more superior approach.

meLexden’s MD Christopher Brooks has worked with a variety of financial services giants spanning a 20 year career (including Amex, Aviva, Barclays, Raffeissen Bank, Direct Line, JPMorgan, Hiscox, Visa, Ageas, Tesco Bank, Investec, Nationwide, Visa and The Co-operative Bank among others). Christopher will be sharing insights into what those who excel are up to in financial services customer experience.

darren cornish

Darren Cornish is Director of Customer Experience at The Share Centre. Having driven customer-led thinking forward at  Aviva, Axa, Eon and now with The Share Centre, Darren has always had ‘customer ‘ in his title and customer contentment on his agenda. Darren will share the award nominated  FS CX presentation from The Share Centre.

“Christopher delivered a first class presentation at our Protect Association conference. As Simon Cowell would say, ‘He nailed it!’ – Steve Devine, Chairman, PROTECT

If you are interested, we would love to see you there. Either complete the contact form above, reply via the website lexdengroup.com or email christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com to secure your complimentary place.

Full details of this event are below.

fs event3jpg

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.

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 

Are your customers starting to suffer from customer feedback fatigue?

A couple of weekends ago I travelled to the New Forest in the South of England for a two night break with my wife and two boys. The trip was focused around a day out at Paulton’s Park as a treat for our three year old. Our seven year old loves hotels so we stayed in two. We ate out a couple of times and overall had a great family time.

What made the stay so good? Well it was the fact that we all get along famously, plus everything worked as it should – because we’d organised it as such and chose brands we could rely upon. Okay, I can’t take all the credit.There were a couple brilliant customer experience moments which added to the occasion such as the yo-yo’s for the boys when we checked in at the Novotel and having the pool at The Best Western all to ourselves.

ikea feedbackOn the way back home we popped in for a typical ‘essentials only’ shop at IKEA Southampton. We won over the boys with the promise of apple flan. £150 later we’d picked up the supposed essentials and headed for some lunch.

As we were eating lunch I noticed a customer feedback machine in the restaurant where people were coming to eat. I asked a member of staff why it was chosen to go there in the restaurant. His response summed it up, “People come here to shop. People come here to eat. Why would they come here to tell us what we should do better? I’ve never seen it being used”.

I think I need a holiday to complete these feedback surveys!

The following morning I was at Waterloo and stopped at Pret’s to get a cup of coffee on the way to work. On the wall was another feedback survey request. My iphone inbox pinged at me with a request from the Novotel to tell them what we thought of their services and facilitates! This was soon followed by Paultons and Best Western.

survey emails

Less than 24 hours since IKEA and I’d been confronted with several feedback surveys! Even as a CX expert with a penchant for interrogating customer feedback to develop differentiating brand experience for clients, I felt worn-out at just the thought of ploughing through the surveys.

nero surveyThe quality across pret surveythese surveys varied wildly. And with some it was clear all they were interested in was a performance score rather than understanding what worked and what could be better. More worryingly not one took time to find out whether my weekend went as planned, was I happy with the jaunt, how their brand fitted into my weekend, which other brands I’d been relying upon that weekend alongside theirs, how their brand compared to those others I’d been pleased with, did they stand out for any reason that had been memorable to any of my party or whether I now saw their brand as a reliable trust agent for just this sort of event or I’d let them into other parts of my life. in fact, the stuff that mattered to me!

Sadly the insight which would richly furnish their understanding of the value of their brand to their customers and the impact the experience had on them was omitted. Instead they asked me questions like:

  • Was it value for money?
  • Would I tell my friends?
  • Was the booking website easy to navigate?
  • Did I speak to a member of staff whose name I can recall and did they exceed my expectations?

I love all the brands I’ve mentioned, with this type of bombardment we will soon see the demise in the value of customer feedback unless a sprinkle of innovation and a large dose of customer relevance is applied.

However, too often customer feedback is seen as a measure rather than a palette to enhance customer’s lives with.

Is this really the best time?

dublin surveyThis example affronted me the moment I’d gone through security at Dublin airport. Now is this a moment I really want to stop and feedback my experience? Perhaps (small ‘p’) if it was less than a great experience AND time is on my side I might. But if time is against, no chance. And would anyone really consider stopping and feeding back on a good security experience?

On two recent commissions I have seen ‘customer feedback’ surveys appear in the top ten issues for a brand in the Voice of The Customer Analysis. One brand was serving ten feedback surveys to customers a year. It seems the survey ‘monkeys’ have forgotten, it’s the customer’s world and we just live in it. To obtain feedback from a customer is a privilege, not a right. We should be mindful of that when asking for it and even more so when considering how to apply it.

Future Trends in Customer Feedback

Feedback systems will continue to be rolled out. But, can brands look forward to customers informing them of their priorities? Or will consumers begin to find their day becoming ever more polluted with feedback requests and drop them from their daily activities.

My prediction is that feedback will be less readily offered in the future. I was reviewing trends in the customer feedback space for an airline conference presentation and noticed two which will mean we might all have to rethink how we engage customers for feedback:

@VexVox The prickly hedgehog listens to tweeters grumbling about brands and brings it to the attention of others as well as engaging the brands affected. As the volume of followers grows vexvox will have not one or two comments to feedback to brands, but acting on behalf of consumers will have hundreds of similar complaints to bring to the brands attention. With such an easy way of jumping the complaints queue and a no hassle way to attain resolution, feed back surveys will become a less attractive route.

The second is still in development so I can’t share the newco’s details just yet. But the principal is this; ‘your data is your property’ – their genie commercialises it for customers. Sources tell me the customer will trade claimed behaviour data for credits. These will increase in value if the ‘claimed’ matches the ‘actual’ behaviour. One aspect is a ‘catch all’ customer feedback survey option which provides back to the brands structured around what matters to the customer. The customer will be discouraged from using any other form of customer feedback.

Don’t get me wrong the health of the feedback survey sector is very much alive. With TripAdvisor we see that the ‘public’ feedback channel is booming. The difference here is it has a commercial model underpinning it. This form of feedback has a future.

Whereas internal feedback systems will be under threat. It’s time to start thinking about the next generation of customer feedback because consumers are getting tired and impatient at a time when business’ are becoming every more reliant.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Strategy Consultant & Director at Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Consultancy | 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 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.

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.

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