Tag Archives: customer strategy

Free Customer Experience Progress Assessment

As independent Customer Experience Consultants, we have launched a free Customer Experience Programme Assessment tool to help clients review their internal practices against several areas where alignment is required to achieve distinction through customer experience.

We see the benefit to you as follows:

  • Identify the key areas involved in progressing CX
  • Identify where you are ahead or behind others in terms of your CX progress
  • Assess what progress looks like, to ensure you are good shape to get there
  • Help you assess where you are ahead of any resource decisions coming up
  • Get a quick read (within 3 days) with minimum impact on the business
  • Provide current state insight which you can share with others helping you take CX forward
  • Validate or challenge advice and recommendations received from current CX partners
  • Receive an independent observation separate to any vendor supported opinions

As independents we have no invested interest in the outcome

We include consideration of feedback platforms and other technologies alongside the other key areas of CX rather than the focus as is often the case with vendor assessments. We are in the business of best practice guidance and effective advice rather than tech solutions. So our report provides you with a broader appreciation of how far you’ve progressed.

Each of the key practice areas (such as channel management, accountability, tech, adoption, measurement and culture) are graded from ‘Unaware’ to ‘Differentiating. The grading is based on Lexden’s extensive experience in setting up and improving clients CX programmes. Your progress is plotted accordingly with an output report highlighting your overall progress and breaking this down across key areas. A comparison of your performance to other companies is also made across each area.

More than one assessment per company can be completed. This means you can use the approach to gauge the variance in perceptions of CX progress across the business between different individuals, levels, roles, departments, locations or even brands in a group set up. Let us know if this is the intended purpose and we will aggregate results as well as supply specific reports.

Click this link to the survey which will take 10-15 minutes to complete. Information collected is confidential. Once the assessment is complete we will confirm this and forward the output within 3 days.

How to achieve 600% from your Customer Experience Programme

If you are looking for something more comprehensive we also provide a robust assessment of the profitability level your CX programme is achieving, bench-marked against over 1,000 organisations. Adapting the award winning CX Typology(c) Measuring Customer Experience research of Dr Professor Phil Klaus, we assess your current programme against 47 practice points. Arriving at a score, CXPPA (Customer Experience Programme Profitability Assessments) pin points where improvements in your programme should be focused, and how to align your actions to those of organisation who are driving 600% more from their CX programmes. To receive more information on this exclusive assessment please contact us.

If you’d like to receive more articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our free monthly ‘Customer Experience Update’.

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

If you’ve got a CX challenge, see if we can help.

Are you wasting money on Customer Experience?

With 90% of CEO’s prioritising Customer Experience as a leading business practice(1), financial scrutiny on performance will only increase to retain board confidence and commitment. However, 90% of programmes are failing to deliver (2) their potential.

How can you be sure Customer Experience investment is correctly prioritised?

Most manuals and professional CX speakers would advise practioners to fix what’s upsetting customers and move on to making a point of distinction on what they rave about. Which should push up satisfaction and recommendation scores.

However, both these customer experience strategies require investment to succeed. What if there is no budget? Can you ‘hedge’ the required investment against incremental sales/profit this focus will deliver? It’s probably not that safe to do so. Evidence shows that only 1% of share of category can be reliably attributed back to these conventional measures (email me if you want more on why this is).

A more linear approach is to show the reduction in ‘bad demand’ operational costs associated with managing activities creating negative feedback on specific touchpoints. This would show an accountable reduction in costs. Albeit costs created by a bad customer experience in the first place. So should they be classed as a win, or an own goal? Either way, it’s a start.

This gives you the two more common strategies for CX growth pursued:

  1. Improve that which the business is poor at but customer’s value (also known as the ‘Fix’ phase)
  2. Leverage that which the business is good at and customer’s value (also known as ‘Build’ phase)

The shortfall here is that the hit list for these strategies rely on customer’s feeding back about what’s great and what’s not. But what if customers don’t vex about an issue? And why wouldn’t they –  because it’s not on their radar? What if there’s nothing wrong or right about an experience but because it’s not important to customers it never gets raised? With most VoC set ups if you don’t hear about it often it gets considered not worth looking at.

A conventional approach focuses on capturing feedback on customer’s sentiment and intention. But as proved on most voting days, intention and behaviour are often distant relatives. Whereas, understanding actual behaviour caused by Customer Experience is evidence of what customer’s do.

So rather than only asking how satisfied a customer is with an activity or experience, or which activities they are satisfied with or otherwise, understanding how important an activity is to a customer’s share of category commitment brings behavioural based measurement in to CX. Actual behaviour is a significantly more reliable indicator of decision making than intention.

This moves the focus from knowing some of what’s going on, to knowing everything

With fix and build programmes linked to CSAT and NPS inferred scores, there is a read on, ‘what we are good at and what we are not so good at’. By complimenting this with behavioural change insights we are now answering, ‘what customer experiences matters most to a customer’s decision to commit share of category’. This adds the missing commercial dimension to CX performance management and with it reveals two further CX strategies for practioners to pursue. As well as sharpen the purpose of the ‘Improve’ and ‘Leverage’ strategies too:

  1. Monitor and refine/remove CX which the business is poor at and does not impact customer’s decision to commit to us
  2. Improve CX which the business is poor at but impacts customer’s decision to commit to us
  3. Leverage CX which the business is good at impacts customer’s decision to commit to us
  4. Explore the potential in CX Opportunities which the business is good at but does not impact customer’s decision to commit to us

These are shown in Lexden’s MILO matrix below, which enables prioritisation of CX investment.

Lexden’s CX MILO Matrix

The ‘Monitor’ strategy identifies investment which is under-performing and not needed (or as the headline state where a company is ‘wasting money on CX’).

With conventional feedback this insight isn’t unearthed because it’s the customer experience that doesn’t matter to customers, so it rarely gets asked for or feedback provided – whether it’s good or bad. But if this collated less meaningful activity can be refined, reduced or removed and rationalised costs redeployed to the ‘Improve’ and ‘Leverage’ strategies.

Which leaves the ‘Opportunity’ strategy, which provides untapped potential for new areas to consider. These could provide future advantage in a maturing CX-led organisation if reshaped and made important to the customer’s decision making or outcomes fulfilment.

You may be questioning this only works if you know what activities matter in the first place, and their relative degree of importance. If you were starting from scratch that would take longer and cost more to work out than would be of use.

Fortunately, the missing golden insight is already available

Leading CX academic Dr Professor Phil Klaus developed a quality of experience measure which identifies which customer experiences impact customer’s behavioural decisions. In conjunction with Prof Klaus, we work with this leading edge CX insight measure, which means we can now add ‘behavioural change’ insight to existing NPS and CSAT measures to create the missing commercial rigour CX deserves.

With ten years and over 1,000 case studies complete, this award-winning insight informs companies on ‘what matters most’ and ‘what doesn’t matter at all’ when it comes to customer experiences impacting share of category decision making. By identifying the most important 25 customer attributes and experiences (refined from a total of 300), the ‘Experience Quality Measure’ accounts for up to 88% of a customer’s decision making. Making it the most reliable CX measurement available.

Each individual study completed highlights the specific set of activities and their relative importance for that company. No two outcomes are the same making it the unique CX DNA of a company. The principal advantages of this approach are as follows:

  • It doesn’t matter which CX measure you have in place already, or which VoC platform you use, we run a one-off separate study alongside what’s already in place.
  • The volume of customer contacts engaged to arrive at the experience measure is around 125, so it’s a much smaller study all round, than a VoC programme commitment
  • We are now into our third year working with the approach and translating the academic science into a more workable and accessible insight source for clients to prove profitability from CX
  • The measurement won’t shift overnight, because it’s based on actual behaviour change, not just opinion. So, we recommend capturing and tracking progress annually
  • Competitor data is also captured which means we also know 1) who else has your customer’s share of category and 2) what customer experiences attract your customers to them
  • This insight can be identified and the MILO matrix complete within 8 weeks

So, there you have it. The ability to identify what drives share of category rather than just favourable commentary.  The confidence to pull out from your plan those activities which matters least. The insight to keep ahead of your competition in CX. Which means CX leaders can demonstrate to budget holders that CX investment isn’t being wasted. In fact, with all four of the MILO strategies pursed it’s driving profitable growth.

If you’d be interested to see how it works with a case study or how easy it is to add this essential CX insight to the CX governance, please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com 

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Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience. If you’ve got a CX challenge, see if we can help.

(1) Bain (2) Dr Professor Phil Klaus

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. 

Lexden’s top 3 Customer Experience moments of 2016

As you would expect from a Customer Experience Consultancy, we collect examples of good and bad practice in customer experience as sales execs collect air-miles. So the office conversation often turns to something we’ve seen or experienced and what impact we feel it has on customer’s future commitment to that brand.

We took this ‘I wonder’ a little further and created two twitter characters to collect stories from people too. Grumpy persona @vexvox collects and distributes stories from others on the woes of customer experience, whilst his upbeat cousin @fondfox shares applauds stories of positive customer experience.

If you want to here what people have been saying about your brand, let us know

Keeping the mood on customer experience light, we’ve collated our favourite three experiences from last year. We hope you find these examples inspirational and can see how the ‘themes’ involved can be taken back and embedded in to your own programmes.

#1 Adidas (Christopher, MD, Lexden)

July 2016 and walking down the Champs-Elysee my son spots an Adidas store. Despite his heart being set on a pair of Nike ‘sock’ football boots for his birthday the following month, we go in.

adiddas-2

In the store, we were approached. When we mentioned the sock boot the assistant said the only way to know if the Adidas boot might be better is to play football in them. At which point he got a pair out which my son tried. The Adidas assistant also got out a ball and turned the shop into a training ground; passing, lobbing over clothes rails and shooting at walls. My son stated it was one of the highlights of his time in Paris. The next month he switched his allegiance and requested a pair of Adidas sock boots for his birthday. Link to full article.

#2 Wordery (Leanne, Office Manager, Lexden)

wordery2One of the gifts Leanne ordered up as a Christmas present for a nephew was an Aladdin, popup book which also played music. Although on opening it her nephew found it didn’t play anything. Fretting about how to get it returned as it had been free delivery, Leanne contacted the online retailer, Wordery. Their returns policy couldn’t have been better. They apologised, didn’t question the legitimacy of the dispute, explained even though it doesn’t happen often a replacement was in the post already. Not bad.

But what about returning the faulty book? Returns are proving to be a killer pain point in customer experience for online companies. Not with Wordery, they said no return of the book was needed, just a copy of the ISBN page details. What really impressed us was they asked if Leanne could drop the book off at a children’s home or hospital to enjoy.

#3 Mercedes-Benz (James, Senior Customer Experience Consultant)

You may be aware but Mercedes-Benz are one of the best performing customer experience brands in the world. Their CX drives contentment, commitment and contribution from their customers. This example highlights why.

mercedes

https://mercedes.citnow.com/vxxHgsLNh9S link to service video.

James’ took his car in for a service. Most of us worry about what the costs will be and part of the anxiety is created by the ‘behind closed doors’ set-ups of garages. The layout is no different at Mercedes-Benz, but recognising this anxiety and wanting to reaffirm their transparent approach to servicing, they sent a video of the service being conducted through. It’s not a new idea, Pizza Express brought the kitchen experience into the restaurant a few years ago. But it’s still a powerful one which creates confidence in the quality of the service and therefore overall brand trust.

We hope you enjoy these varied examples from our 2016 vaults.

If it floats your boat, our monthly Customer Experience Update contains similar content as well as the latest developments in Customer Experience, successful case studies and interviews with leaders. You can the vanguards in customer experience, and subscribe for free here.

cb2

 

 

 

Lexden delivers effective customer experience solutions for clients serious about sustainable customer relationships.

 

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. 

With customer experience design, functional is good. But don’t stop there.

“Focus on the whole journey, not just the transaction”.  In the world of Customer Experience (CX) you will hear this phrase frequently.  But what does it mean?

It’s the difference between a task and a purpose.  The difference between a user story like the one above, and meeting a customer’s overall goal.  It is important to understand the difference between the two, because how you frame the interaction determines how your customer will experience it.

This is perhaps best illustrated with an example:

The background.  You are a lifelong customer of Locality Bank.  Your parents took you in to the bank open your first account when you were a child, and you remember how you felt when a moneybox was presented to you as a thank you.

Your dealings with the bank over the years have always been consistent, efficient and straightforward.  You don’t usually give banking too much thought, often using online services.  It just happens in the background.

But recently you decided to strike out on your own and start a business.  This is new and uncharted territory, and you are looking for help to get started.  Locality Bank are the first people that spring to mind.  You phone them to make an appointment – you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

Scenario 1.  The person who answered was fantastic.  She knew exactly what you were looking for, apparently quite a few customers are in the same boat, so they have put a package together just for people like you.  She invited you to come in , walk through how everything works, then decide which elements will work best for you.  She knew you had been with them for years, so they know you pretty well.  There will be very little form filling, and lots of talking about your business and what excites / worries you most about starting up.

Scenario 2. The person who answered was polite and efficient.  She asked if you would like an appointment to see a new business adviser.  You  asked whether that was the best thing, but she didn’t have any other options, so you booked an appointment anyway.  She promised to send a pack in the post which you can fill in and bring along.  It will help the Bank assess your suitability for a business account.  You felt a little unsettled by this.   What if they can’t help?  If you can get through this stage, it’s another step towards your little business getting up and running, but you will look at other options just in case.

Scenario 1 leaves you reassured, and looking forward. Scenario 2 leaves you anxious and looking for a plan B

We’ve all encountered these scenarios, where we’re left feeling a certain way by one supermarket/airline/store/bank and completely different by another.  It’s something you can’t put your finger on, but it makes you feel…something.

So why the difference?

In scenario 1, the business understood this customer’s whole journey.  The history of the relationship, their context right now (nervous excitement), and their goal (I want to start my own business, I need help to understand how it works).  It was efficient and easy, but it went beyond the transaction and delivered the total experience – which was reassuring, empathetic and human.  Almost as if they were standing beside this customer when she made the call.

In scenario 2, the business focused purely on delivering an efficient, easy transaction for their customer.  The customer’s goal is likely to have been framed as “I want to make an appointment to speak to a new business adviser”.  Nothing wrong with this – efficient and easy is the foundation of a good customer experience – but they were looking at the wrong goal…

It was all about the bank, not the customer.  The experience was functional, and process-driven, and left this customer feeling unsettled.

 Customers are human.  We all have complex brains.   When I set out for the supermarket I can be very task focused and impatient; I want to get in and out quickly (rational).

But I also equate food with home, and making people happy (not so rational).

Perhaps what I am really looking for is kudos from the family – a hugely effective distraction from price labels, and the reason why I often come out of the supermarket without the items I went in for (completely irrational).

So how do we avoid falling into the trap of designing purely functional journeys which miss the point for customers?

Map the journey.  From the customer’s point of view.  Journey mapping is a brilliant method of stepping back from the minutiae and seeing the whole picture:

Map the journey.  From the customer’s point of view.  Journey mapping is a brilliant method of stepping back from the minutiae and seeing the whole picture:

  • Get close to customers, in the moment.  This helps you to understand how customers think (and ex-customers, and near-miss customers)
  • Decide how you want your customers to feel, and what you want them to say about you.  What does your brand stand for?
  • Use journey mapping to show where you are hitting the mark, or not.

Journey mapping helps to clear the mist, so you can design interactions with purpose, which meet their true goals and deliver the total experience.

Reproduced with kind permission by Beth Richardson, Lexden Consultant – helping business get closer to customers.

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.