Tag Archives: customer satisfaction

Why we need to rethink how we measure Customer Experience

There’s a rage of words between Ryanair and anyone measuring their Customer Satisfaction which presents a different score to what they believe it is.

Which! have a 52% rating for Ryanair. PA Consulting have them pegged even lower. Whereas Rate My Trip has a 92% customer satisfaction rating. Ryanair understandably support Rate My Trips’ poll.

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But forget the squabbling, the real enemy here is the lack of understanding of how customer satisfaction is calculated and inconsistency in collating and measuring customer satisfaction across sectors.

We all love Which! I was a subscriber for years, often checking the best product options (sadly often after I made the purchase). Which! has more proportion of their measure accounted for by price related criteria than other studies such as award winning behavioural based EXQ which has found it to be much lower in studies.

Often a suite of criteria are presented with equal importance (again EXQ has identified that is never the case). These measures are then wrapped up and badged as overall Customer Satisfaction. So it seems what Customer Satisfaction is often whatever the organisation using it wants it to be.

This isn’t unique to Ryanair. I’ve met numerous insight managers who do not agree with the criteria used by others to measure their performance.

If you asked a customer what the criteria should be and how much weighting to apply to their situation, I am sure you would receive back as many combinations as customers asked.

But many consumers place high value on these satisfaction measures in their choice criteria, assuming they are all the same. But the are usually unaware of the wide and varied ways companies collate and grade customer satisfaction.

‘Satisfaction’ as a measure of performance also provides an unreliable indicator for companies to track, according to studies completed by Prof. Dr Phil Klaus, world leading academic on customer experience. No one said it was an indication of profit, but many companies do share CSAT at board level assuming if it goes up, so the company will be more profitable.

Ryanair could be the most profitable short haul carrier around but have the lowest satisfaction rating. If they operate a budget airline then something has got to give. In their case it’s the experience of the customer. Is it sustainable? Perhaps yes. This year’s poor Customer Service has delivered a 20% increase in share price YoY for Ryanair. No one states you have to be nice to your customers.

So Customer Experience practitioners should be cautious about  presenting Customer Satisfaction increases as a sign of business profitability improvement. In the Wealth Management and Private Banking sector studies show those topping the customer satisfaction polls are way off the pace when it comes to corporate profitability rankings.

Affected behavioural change is a very reliable measurement approach because it’s an ‘actual’. Whereas satisfaction is a measure of a customer’s sentiment at a moment in time. Similarly, NPS measures an intention to be actioned. They do not reflect what customer’s are or will actually do. Measuring the impact of a behaviour change is an actual.

We can measure CX impact on behavioural change, so why do companies prioritise satisfaction?

It’s an easy one to put to customers. They get it. However, if you discuss the concept of ‘context’  capturing customer satisfaction, most admit they struggle to associate satisfaction with anything more than the here and now they are asked about.

So if a purchase went well the customer might feedback a high score. However, if part of that transaction was the reassuring returns policy which then turns out to be useless, they cant go back and correct transaction moment score even though it was influenced by the perception of the returns policy.

VoC platform providers like satisfaction as well. It’s a one question solution. It’s easy. It’s relatively unchallenged. It can be asked across channels and compared between journeys, segments and other variables. It’s a commercially viable currency for them.

Is there a more accountable measure available?

There is a much more reliable customer experience measure. One which presents 90% accountability of what CX drives customer’s decisions. One which has been proven to be 90 times more reliable than CSAT and NPS in identifying what drives customer’s decisions. One which would enable both Which! to reflect more accurately the complex set of criteria customers use to inform decisions and is based on ‘actual’ contribution to the company rather than a sentiment score such as satisfaction.

This measure is known as Experience Quality Measure (EXQ). It’s not widely known about because it’s an academics measure for customer experience. We found it a few years ago and now find it fascinating. Academics are interested in discovering the truth rather than headline scores so it’s a more ‘spikey’ data set to work with, but so much more informative. !0 years or so a group of academics agreed CSAT and NPS weren’t reflective of the truth, with a less than 1% reliability of customer’s actual decision making being attributed back to scores provided on these measures, so the pursuit of a more accountable measure led to the creation of the award winning EXQ.

It was identified there are 300 drivers which influence 100% of our decision making. It’s complex. But further studies discovered over 90% of decisions can be identified through just 25 of these drivers. At this level it becomes a study to be put to customers, as we have now done several times. 

What does EXQ deliver?

  • Identifies which customer experiences matter most to customers decision making
  • Highlights the importance of each of these drivers (typically 8-9 drivers account for 66% of decision making)
  • Identify the customer experiences companies deliver which have almost no impact on customer’s decision making – creating immediate opportunities for saving
  • Because we collate ‘share of category’ decision making we can highlight how your score benchmarks to your competitors and what drivers that is based on. This provides an indication of true differentiation, as perceived by your customers. As well as expected experiences for the sector
  • Provide cross-border comparisons to enable groups to make truly global customer  comparisons
  • We use an award winning academic research designed to get the truth of customer experience
  • It’s a one off study which is not reliant on tech platforms so can be delivered in 6 weeks
  • It’s a study and not a tech solution, so the cost is comparable to a few focus groups

In EXQ studies we have run with clients, we highlight the 25 most important customer experience behavioural drivers. What is often surprising to clients is that what really matters most to customers is very different to the areas the company has invested it’s marketing budget on. The decision is then whether to accept the new insight and rethink the strategic choices they make or to bury it and pretend it never happened and hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them. We’ve run studies where both outcomes have played out!

EXQ is not for the faint hearted, but it is for those driving for successful in CX. Studies have been run with over 1,100 companies around the globe which highlight the best performing EXQ companies achieve a 600% ROI from CX. Although only 3% achieve this.

For more on EXQ click the link below. Or contact Christopher Brooks at Lexden to find out how with just 6 weeks (and a fraction of the cost of CSAT) you can have a CX which will refocus your CX efforts around ‘what matters most’ to your customers and what drives your bottom line.

If you are considering this option, it might be worth undertaking a ‘comparison’ study using EXQ to identify what really drives profitability. EXQ can also informs what customer behavioural drivers deliver CSAT and NPS scores – which can be most revealing. This time in two months you can have the answer for the equivalent of a months VoC running costs.

But it EXQ isn’t for you, when it comes to measuring CX be sure that 1) it reflects what’s important to your customers decision making and 2) you are certain of the impact on profit of chasing CX targets.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Consultant, Lexden (London)

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

 

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Customer Lifetime Value – can you solve the formula?

Can you solve the formula
to the right?
If you paid as much attention to algebra as me in maths lessons at school, probably not.

That said, I can almost guarantee that you do understand the formula (or at the very least will by the end of this blog!).

In my time working on a very progressive service initiative in the commercial insurance area, the organisation I was with were responsible for a huge upturn in their new business, rate and retention results by understanding that just because a customer doesn’t choose you this time, doesn’t mean they will make the same decision the next time round.

What will dictate their next decision will be the feelings and associations they have of you and your brand as a result of the experience you gave them.

I listened in to a call once where a city Broker spoke with our Trader to say he was placing a £900k risk with a rival insurer after three months of effort on our Traders part. I’ll never forget the startled reaction of the Broker as our trader told him:

“not a problem, well done, you’ve done a great job to get that price. We’d love to speak with you about it again next year, I’ll put something in our diaries as a reminder”.

Not only did we win back the risk the next year, but we got a lot more incremental business in the following 12 months from the Broker.

Moving on to an example of a slightly smaller value, my mortgage company with whom I also have a credit card and a debit card (let’s call it a 321 debit card) recently failed to apply the new rate I had chosen following my initial two year rate coming to its end. They said they hadn’t received the letter, I knew I had sent it – it was their word against mine and as a result of the mistake, I had been overpaying for three months.

As the conversation unfolded, it became clear that the experience I had expected; application of the new rate going forwards, and no reimbursement for me, wasn’t going to happen. In fact, the excellent, empathetic, and well trained advisor applied and backdated the rate, taking the corresponding amount of money off my next mortgage payment.

Am I likely to move my mortgage or any of my cards now? Not a chance.

We at Lexden take the same view. We feel that when deciding whether to set out on a CX journey or not, the last thing any organisation should do is call in the consultants to decide for them.

It sounds counter-intuitive coming from a CX consultant, but it’s something that we beleive must be owned and driven from within rather than outsourced. It can lead to a complete lack of ownership of CX within the business.

Whereas we find the most fruitful engagements are those with clients who have a clear desire to deliver excellent experiences. We do of course help them understand what matters most to their customers and how to amplify their authentic difference through customer experience, but throughout we are ensuring ownership, drive and knowledge rests with our clients.

Our experience of this approach has led to client’s inviting us back in and welcoming us rather than judging the value of CX support provided, time after time. This is my understanding of customer lifetime value (even if I still can’t quite decode the equation!)

Posted by James Edmonds, Senior 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. 

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.

 

 

 

Black Friday; a confusing customer experience

Bar humbug – the cost of Black Friday on sustainable profit from customer experience.

So Black Friday 2 came and went without YouTube videos of bun fights over discounted flat screens or Asda and Tesco staff fearing for their safety as iron boards are wrestled over. As it passed relatively unnoticed, I wondered who actually benefits from this rather distasteful annual event?

Black Friday03

Do the increased short term blip of sales stack up against longer term brand reputation impact for instance? The British Retail Consortium reported a drop of 0.4% sales on 2014 so it’s not delivering on sales it would seem. For many shoppers, stores didn’t drop prices as low as had been apparently expected. Online sales did go up. Is this because the fear of having to confront a hardened Black Friday’ bargain hunter type has put the rest of us off the high street. A sort of retail ‘no go zone’. Instead we, and perhaps even the bargain hunters have retreated to the safety of the online bargain battle zone where physical confrontation has been replaced by clicking frenzied spells?

The worry is, will these shoppers now stay away more often citing Black Friday bruising’s as a reason to abandon the high street more often, or altogether? Will this be an unintended consequence for retailers perhaps? These being the very same environments where the majority of the magic of their customer experience comes alive the rest of the year.

I passed a series of Black Friday shop window displays, in a cab. The cabbie said to me, they should call it ‘because we rip you off the rest of the year sale’. He felt if prices were that cheap and they made a profit, retailers were taking customers for a proverbial ride. Has consumer confidence, trust and appeal for some been damaged a deal too far? According to a research poll of one in that taxi, the answer was yes! I only hope the ‘quick BF buck’ was worth it considering the long term relationship damage it could cause.

Does Black Friday destroys long-term brand equity?

I’m quite a conventional shopper when it comes to Christmas with most of it completed in December in a few favoured stores, notably M&S and John Lewis. Often I take in the hussle and bustle of Oxford Street as part of my Christmas shopping experience.

I find Black Friday a fuss too early and a risk of probable compromise on the customer experience I’ve grown to value from my trusted stores. I value them for service not sales, but fear if they have decided to prioritise sales over service by participating in Black Friday my experience will be diminished.Black Friday01

Here’s an example of what I mean.  2015 campaign Black Friday signage was sprayed across our local M&S turning its facia in to something which resembled a looted shop! When is that ever going to be a good look? Where did the inspiration come from for that window dressing – the Croydon riots! That’s a connection I never thought I’d make with M&S – but it’s what Black Friday does to us conventional consumers.

As I write this I realise I haven’t been to either of these stores for my Christmas shopping as much as I have in previous years. Their engagement has potentially impacted my consideration. So the successful brand investment made over several years to gain my loyalty has been unpicked. I believe Black Friday has damaged my preference for these and other retailers who think it’s okay to cheapen themselves at this time and expect me to forgive them. I’m sure I will get past it, but I wont forget.

Black Friday is a ‘promotional platform’ which retailers interpret to suit their own performance strategies, like January sales only grubbier. It’s certainly not the kick-start to Christmas some report it as. It also can’t be owned – unlike the brand reputation and customer experience brands who normally avoid ‘sales sensations’ avoid (which I personally value much more). Hopefully JLP and M&S to place their marketing budget next November.

Mad Bad Friday

There are also some interesting/odd takes on the BF promotion – The 99p Store use it to sell products which cost a few pound more and Starbucks confusingly combining BF with BOGOF.

Also whilst Friday has always been a day long in my mind, M&S has extended the time paradigm to a weekend whilst Dorothy Perkins managed a week long Friday!

I’m sure these promotions are not aimed at me, so I should pipe down, but it certainly has made me think twice about something I previously certain of – my preferred retailers.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, 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.

Showing the Human Side of (n)Power

npower’s Head of Customer Experience explains how customers are taking centre stage in the business

The utility sector has been through some tough times, with press scrutiny, regulatory pressure and customers who are starting to vote with their feet, but despite this backdrop npower, spearheaded by Kelly Iles (Head of Customer Experience), is determined to embed a customer first strategy in order to gain back the trust of customers in the energy sector.

Kelly Iles,Christopher Brooks, Managing Director from Lexden Customer Strategy Consultants caught up with Kelly to find out just what npower has in store for its customers.

Christopher: You’ve been with npower since 2012. It’s a sector which is striving to provide better customer experience and has a way to go in this space. As head of customer experience at npower, what are your key responsibilities in driving npower’s customer agenda forward?

Kelly: We have come a long way, npower has put a lot of focus and effort into making it better for our customers but it’s fair to say there’s still much more work to do. Our mission to achieve this should never stop. My team’s remit is to be the voice of the customer, championing what they want, need and deserve. I have the accountability and authority to set our customer experience improvement agenda which for us right now is getting back to the basics and delivering the energy experience that customers expect. This means addressing core processes, people capability, systems, communications as well as changing the culture of the organisation. It’s a pretty full on role!

Christopher: Already I can tell you are clearly passionate about customer experience, what do you find most interesting about CX?

Kelly: I love the fact that CX touches every facet of the business. There are no hiding places; all areas of the business are involved in the delivery of a seamless experience and to make it work, activities need to bring business and functional silo’s together, which has always been a management challenge.

Christopher: So what is your ‘customer first’ ambition for the company? 

Kelly: We’ve only been serious about building CX capability in the last 3 years. It requires a wholesale business transformation and we continue to move through the different stages of maturity. Whilst this started as a programme ultimately building an enduring capability and culture as well as a well-recognised discipline is our aim.
The core stages are; 1) building a customer insight capability – to understand the issues are customers experience and to measure our progress and performance, 2) map the customer journey to understand when, how and why these issues occur, 3) build and execute an effective improvement plan and finally, 4) embed the methodology, approach, ethos, and culture so that it becomes everyone’s responsibility.

Christopher: What’s driving CX up the utility sector’s agenda?

Kelly: CX has become a core priority across the entire sector. As choice widens, customers become less inert this results in, energy providers have margins being squeezed and commoditisation increased, however for sustainable growth pricing can’t be the only answer. As a result providers are recognising that offering a good service may mean customers are less likely to shop around and might move away from choosing their provider based solely upon price.
Ultimately retention of customers becomes key and delivering a great experience will help to build long standing sustainable customer relationships.

Christopher: In the insurance sector the metric is ‘effort’. In a sector such as utility which is very much an essential service, what are the priority areas of CX improvement to impress customers?

Kelly: Opportunities to delight and impress customers are far less than in other sectors such as retailers. Like insurance firms, the key is to make it as easy as possible for customers to do business with us, effortless in fact. Developments such as SMART and the introduction of digital technology for example our new energy app allows our customers to track usage, manage their energy usage and ultimately keep costs as low as possible. For us it gives an opportunity to build engagement with our customers as well as giving us data that can be used to build a better picture of our customers upon which to offer more targeted products and services.

Christopher: It sounds as if there is much going on, can you give me an example of a one of those improvements made for customers?

Kelly: Listening to our customers we understood the anxiety that a house move creates. During any home move, Customers have lots of other things to sort. Managing their change of energy to their new property is the least of their priorities. as well as their energy. Our processes made customers contact us at a time suitable to us and we were only prepared to process Home moves by our telephone channel. Ultimately we quickly realised we could do a lot to make this process much less effort and one less thing to worry about at the time of the move. As a result we’ve digitised the whole journey and removed the restrictive contact window so that customers can inform us of their home move when it suits them. At the same time we built key checkpoints so we are able to reassure the customer that everything is going through as planned.

Christopher: You’ve mentioned a number of customer improvements being made. Where do the drivers for improvement come from?
npower

Kelly: Our Voice of the Customer programme is complimented by our Voice of the People and Voice of the Process programmes. This gives us a complete view on what’s happening to both our customers, our people and why. By bringing together multiple data sources and developing insight, we are able to clearly see the priority customer issues that need to be addressed. Our focus is on what matters to the customer.

Christopher: What are the contributors to your CX programme you value the most?

Kelly: There are many areas, but three I’ll highlight. Firstly, it needs the support and buyin from the snr leadership team which will ensure that CX remains on the agenda. The leadership team need to take ownership, set the agenda and ensure followership. Secondly, our people on the ground. These are the team that deliver the experience to the customer day in, day out. They also know what the issues are and often how to fix them. Listening, empowering and giving them the accountability to make a difference for customers is vital.
Finally, the ability to upskill and embed CX capability into the DNA of the organisation. For this I look to my team who have the right skills and expertise to work across the business and define what good looks like. This could be practically how you delivery change in a customer centric way right through to building the right operational lead metrics to monitor and evaluate CX change.

Christopher: Are you pleased with the progress you are making?

Kelly: We’ve come a long way but CX isn’t a project, it doesn’t stop. There is always a better way to serve the customer. Real-time feedback as a measure shows the power of ‘in the moment’ feedback. It gives you the opportunity to address a poor experience and to build advocacy through heroic recovery activity. To take a customer whose expectations haven’t been met and then exceed offersa powerful opportunity to build loyalty.

Christopher: Who do you look to for customer first thinking inspiration?

Kelly: For me, I think those companies who just make the whole interaction effortless impress me the most. The AA breakdown service – I was on my own when I found myself stuck on a side of a road, they asked me specifically whether I was accompanied and then applied a very targeted to experience based upon my situation; text updates to manage what’s going on and even a message to help me recognise the recovery vehicle (driver flicking his lights)importantly it was executed perfectly and against the expectations met.

Christopher: CX is evolving fast, what do you think the major trends in your sector will be?

Kelly: The winners in the industry will be those who get the basics right, make interacting with the company seamless and then ongoing, build a proactive relationship with the customer that he or she values. Using data and insight will be key so we can put customers back in control. Ultimately, helping them to manage their energy more effectively.

kelly iles 1Christopher: it’s been so insightful, your passion is infectious and your expertise evident. So how could you help an organisation just waking up to the potential of customer experience?

Kelly: Okay, so I’d have to say strong leadership is key. It can get ugly and you need to be prepared to go through the journey. Leaders need to believe and recognise the phases you will go through. They will also help ensure you get your message out there in the organisation. Also it takes time – there are no short cuts. Many organisations transformation programmes can take up to 10 years. Perhaps most important of all, be relentless in your quest. Never give up. It’shard work but the rewards are great.

Christopher: Kelly that’s great. I’ve seen you at the CX Awards, so you are obviously doing the right things. It’s been a pleasure hearing more about where you’ve come from and where you are going. All the best with your mission. Thank you.

This article is published in the CXM (Customer Experience Magazine)http://cxm.co.uk/showing-the-human-side-of-npower/

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