Tag Archives: customer propositions

What happens when technology forgets its role as the enabler of consumer adoption

I have recently come across two examples related to the railways which highlights what happens when technology drives customer improvements rather than customer improvements or propositions being enabled by technology – and there is a difference.

We fundamentally believe that if you start with the customer, the solution is a better outcome and commercially more sustainable profit for the business. Any other starting point will get found out by competitors or customers soon enough.

It’s a view our clients, who include Hiscox, Radisson and William Hill understand, but not TfL or Greater Anglia it would seem….

The ticket barrier that thinks tickets are beneath it

ticket machineLexden is based in W1, London. I travel into the office on the days we are not on site with a client or attending a customer inspired event outside of London, so I buy a daily ticket. When I jump off the train at Tottenham Hale I need to show my rail ticket before entering the underground. This used to mean flashing it at a guard who often said good morning too, which was nice.

These have recently been upgraded to ticket barriers. The platform master who used to check the tickets instead now reminds commuters, ‘this way through the ticket barriers to the underground please’.

The only problem is when I get to the ticket barrier (as mentioned, the brand new ticket barrier) I am faced with a ticket stuck over the ticket checker device and directed to the barrier guard to see the guard I used to see who now has a queue of 20 deep very disgruntled customers who have headed for the machines to find unless they have an oyster type rail passes they need to queue. On the basis Oyster style passes doesn’t yet exist for Greater Anglia passengers, that means everyone.

Logic suggests Oyster style train passes are coming to this rail company. But for now, tickets are used. That hasn’t stopped the technologists and the commercialists getting together and deciding because the technology is there they will save money and redeploy the head count.

In fact the only loser in the equation is the passenger. But given ‘passenger experience’ is a futuristic concept to many in this sector (excluding Virgin Trains), it’s an inevitable outcome.

More of this ‘one step forward and two steps back’ process improvement approach and passengers will be hankering after the bygone era of clipped tickets and guards on the basis of efficiency, courtesy of over keen, underprepared technology.

The new payment disease invented by technologists set to make commuters more miserable

card clash

It relates to a new payment technology launch. The amusing thing is that whilst the technology has been around for a number of years the launch is actually leading with a new problem the technology capability will provide for the consumer and delivers the message as if it’s acceptable now to launch with inadequacy.

The ad is announcing the forthcoming launch of contactless on the underground. This means debit cards and credit cards can be used for TfL travel payments. Yippee. All good so far.

But that’s not what the ad is about. It focuses on telling passengers that they should change a habit of a recent lifetime and separate payments and travel cards on their person when they travel, otherwise they run the risk of having multiple payments taken at the same time for one journey. Like a virus, it already has its own name; Card Clash.

Now the customer experience (CX) consultant in me knows the importance of ‘managing expectations’ with any launch – box ticked. However, the customer value proposition (CVP) consultant in me also knows the importance of ‘betterment, congruence and risk avoidance’ that must be loaded into new launches.

Which begs two questions:

  1. How can this be better if it actually creates problems the old solution didn’t?
  2. Why didn’t the providers (TfL, Oyster?) spend time fixing the problem instead of writing ads to apologise for the problem?

I’m assuming the bigger picture is that Oyster will phase out shortly (or the unordinary thinker in me wonders if the opportunity lies for Oyster to launch as a state owned bank with a focus on commuters needs), but as it stands this launch fails the most basic CVP business case scorecards.

With the TfL decision to reduce the ticket office capacity, and the inevitable increase of card problems this launch will cause, it could be a confrontational time ahead for TfL. Or as consumers are involved here, they will possibly work these things out for themselves and decide that things are just fine the way they are making adoption a more expensive challenge than it need be.

For now I will grin and bear the inadequacy and the inefficiency which have become the hall mark of the 21st century passenger railways. It may appear mean but I have faith in the railways, I know one day they will one day be the subject of  a positive post from me or my peers.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

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

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

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0)7968 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook  and Twitter @consultingchris 

How Samsung uses technology to keep drivers ‘Eyes on the Road’

For many drivers, a mobile phone is a car crash waiting to happen. Samsung thinks it can change that. 

Texting while driving is becoming a big barrier to road safety. In the US, text messaging while behind the wheel makes a crash up to 23 times more likely, and yetover 77% of young American adults believe they’re capable of doing so “safely.” That frightening gap means people aren’t merely unaware of the danger; they’re in denial.

Samsung, however, has a mobile phone app attempting to fix the problem.

The mobile phone giant just launched an Android app called Eyes on the Road, a game that prevents users from using their phones in potentially harmful ways (for instance, texting) while driving. When active, the app determines the speed at which a user is traveling in order to gauge whether that user is in a moving vehicle or not. At and above roughly 20 km per hour or 12 miles per hour, all phone call, text, social media and other notifications are hidden. Only when the user has reached his or her destination (detected when a user’s phone has been idle for 10 minutes) are notifications revealed. The user can also manually deactivate the app.

eyes on the raod

Click to read the original expanded article from Quartz.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

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

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

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our free monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548.   You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

Unordinary Thinking No. 24 How to achieve a 100% high street occupancy rate

Over the past few years more and more consumer segments previously believed immune to the impact of a global recession have become caught by it. Some finding it has ripped through the very heart of their worlds whilst others admitting the disturbances are inconvenient but notable all the same.

I have seen this played out in numerous focus groups involving all age and affluence groups. And the knock on effect is that whilst ten years ago the economy never featured higher than tenth place in ‘Concerning Societal Issues’ trends studies it now knocks other issues out of the park. And ‘value for money’ ambitions dominate proposition development projects we run, where ‘exclusivity’, ‘prestige’ and ‘kudos’ once featured as themes to explore.

I have accepted this economic climate is a new norm and we work within it. And assumed the rest of polite society would behave the same way. So imagine my surprise, and delight, when I took a trip recently and stumbled into a world full of happy consumers revelling in consumerism blissfully tuned out to the mood of the rest of the globe.

This was a sight I hadn’t seen for quite some time. As I looked around I realised this world I’d entered simply refused to conform to the changes demanded by the new market conditions.

Instead it had done something really quite simple instead. It had not buckled or deviated from delivering its two ‘old school’ driving motivations for existence;customer happiness and a unique brand. When I looked around I saw the advantageous signs of how this played out everywhere…

– Every street has a 100% retail occupancy rate
– Every outlet is brimming with goods and devoid of ‘sale’ signs
– Slogans such as ‘nothing makes a child happy like a new toy’ hung instead of the more familiar ‘buy me now’ desperation banners
– Every day the doors open for morning trade hundreds of waiting customers sprint in with smiles on their faces
– Customers queue for hours again and again for the experience the attractions of the town offers
– Without consideration customers purchase products they could get elsewhere for half the price
– The experience of the street has as much attention given to it as the products purchased there
– And consumers stay out until 11pm nightly to line the streets and pay homage to the face of the establishment in a firework fuelled carnival type parade.

It sounds unbelievable, but trust me, it is true. In this world Peter Pan is more real than a double dip recession.

So who has managed to keep this high street and it’s town prospering when all around them falter?

Sir Philip Green? Mary Portas? Sir Stuart Rose?

No. It’s none of the above.

It is in fact Mickey Mouse.

And along with his friends and supporting cast of thousands, they’ve created an enduring parallel world incubated from the trials and tribulations of the real one. Disneyland Paris (although I am sure the global experience at any park is the same) is a place where your recessionary evoked inhibitions dissolve and your joy for life is energised.

The customer experience is driven by satisfaction and fulfilment. Forget removing friction from the buying process. Forget price pointing. Forget competitiveness. This place proves when you think customer and act for the customer all other strategies are unnecessary. Delivered in a consistent fashion from the valet to the man at the top when he joins you for breakfast.

For brand and proposition specialists like Lexden, this magical kingdom is a reminder of what can be achieved when you choose to look at the opportunity from a customer’s perspective. And contains a bounty of ideas on how to keep customers coming back for more, happily ever after.

Posted by Christopher Brooks.

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 & @consultingajai.