Tag Archives: customer strategy

Applying small Customer Experience improvements to your business to make a BIG impact

Driving a positive behavioural change in customers is the surest way to increase their sustainable contentment and commitment to your business. We’ve seen this achieved when programmes focus on what really matters most to the customers and the business delivers best.

Of course setting the companies CX compass correctly means understanding that Customer Performance measures will mean for the business. For instance, no CFO worth their Masters degree in Economics is going to thank you for delivering a sparkly green looking dashboard showing industry leading promoter scores or top box customer satisfaction if they don’t correlate with profitability.

CEO’s are waking up to (or more often walking into) this reality in their business. If this sounds familiar, then efforts should be diverted to improving the customer performance measures to reflect efforts on CX which drive business profitability. In a study by Prof. Dr Phil Klaus, amongst companies who drive 600% ROI from their CX programmes, effective CX measurement was the No.1 contributing factor for success.

If you’d like to know more on this contact Christopher Brooks and reference 600% ROI.

If you are chartering the correct course, then it’s worth remembering that results from CX take time. So keeping stakeholders’ engagement and belief in CX is key. To do this we recommend small ideas which deliver a big impact (siBI).

I was speaking to a regular on the CX speaker circuit recently who said, ‘We do this all the time. We are always fixing stuff so it works for customers’. Beware, there is a clear distinction between improvements which reaffirm consumer’s choice of a brand versus ‘fixing stuff that was broken’. Not all realise this. However, ROI on ‘operational’ style fixes typically delivers only 125%; 4 times less effective than the vanguards achieve with branded experience.

nationwide2Here are 3 examples of small ideas which I feel demonstrate, in a small way, what the brand is trying to stand for through an enhanced experience.

Nationwide, a more considerate and caring building society takes the opportunity to ensure there is no mess left in the community from its cash machines.

It’s something all could do, but those who don’t have it in their DNA don’t.

I counted 4 other banks on our high street without this simple experience set up.

travellodge2Travelogical is the message from Travel Lodge. And this is a simple demonstration of logic. A basket of basic supplies which if you are so inclined you can take.

This not only reduces the effort and cost of staff dealing with customers requesting tea bags and sugar sachets, but it makes the budget hotel chain appear more generous than those perceived more premium.

Disneyland Paris in comparison provide a tea bag and coffee sachet per customer, per stay.

whopper2Finally, I saw this on a Burger King wrapper at Barcelona airport. Fast food chains have worked hard to demonstrate authentic and natural ingredients. What better way of stating it than on the wrapper from which is eaten. But actually stating it could backfire and have customers thinking why say it if you’ve got nothing to hide? So by making it part of the ‘what ingredients are in excluded from the order’, it allows the selection of natural ingredients which go in to make up the burger meal laid bare without stating them. Smart, simple and small.

They all share the ‘small’ in terms of investment as well as the ‘BIG’ in terms of demonstration of brand values. It’s that simple. Whilst they won’t achieve, ‘jump off the page’ unprompted positive verbatim they can be shared around the business as examples of quick, brand reaffirming experiences delivered for relatively little. Small ideas delivering Big Improvements.

Lexden helps deliver Customer Experience Strategy and Management for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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

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

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.

 

 

 

3 in 1 Brand Experience – Lego Hotel

Few brands own a shape as well as Lego. The coloured brick has become synonymous with Lego, and vice versa. I have been familiar with its association with play, from my own childhood through to the present where we have a healthy deposit in the children’s toy room, plus it often makes an entry during customer journey mapping and value proposition workshops for Lexden. So I was intrigued to see how it transferred to a hotel and whether it could achieve the highest of all accolades (tee-hee); Lexden’s 3 examples of a branded experience within 1 minute of engaging with the brand.

Previous achievers include Virgin Trains, Waitrose and Imaginarium (click link for these), so the bar for entry is set high. But having visited the Lego Hotel at Legoland Windsor for a corporate event a few months ago, I am delighted to say it passed with flying colours.

Lego LandHere’s the branded experience I encountered when arriving. So with the stop watch ready to start, I got out of the car and headed towards the hotel following a 90 minute drive. On walking to the hotel from the car park, the frustration of the slow motorway journey and countless hold ups were quickly forgotten when I saw the playfulness immediately in evidence in the exterior of the hotel with the smoke being delivered courtesy of a giant green dragon (of course)!

The colours and shapes screamed Lego – so I knew I’d arrived. I passed under the arch with the dragon bearing down on me and I entered the hotel.

The reception is typically Lego with characters littered around the families with young children ready for a day at the theme park and a flooring of carpet imprinted with the iconic shape meaning Lego comes at you from the walls and floor alike. Lego Land ManBut out of the corner of my eye I noticed a gentleman on his own reading a paper – not the best environment for such a pastime I initially thought. Until I realise it’s another fun branded gesture from Lego; a lifelike life size guest.

Okay so I wasn’t fooled that easily, but it was a striking image sensibly situated at the entrance of the conference facilities.

It was at this point I realised it had been a long time on the road and with a day’s conference speaking ahead of me, I decided to pop in and use the ‘facilities’ before the day’s events began. Of course the Lego theme was carried through here, with Lego characters on the gents, ladies and toddlers loo door signs and oversized pieces as urinals (I’ve spared you the picture). Equally fun were the prints on the doors on the loos inside. They take what is always a very dull space and depict a Lego escapism scene. Lego Land02

A most amusing piece of branding and the only hotel in the world where it would work! Oops – there’s that urinal too in shot.

Welcome to our league on 3 in 1 CX Lego Hotel. Look out for the next article to see if you brand makes our list.

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.

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/

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

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 contactchristopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at Lexden Group.

 

Do you know where your brand’s customer experience blind spots are?

One morning last week in the space of 10 minutes I walked past three examples of customer experience which are more to do with my interpretation of what I experienced rather than the intention of the brand trying to deliver the customer experience.

It highlights that all brands have blind spots. Most organisations look at customer experience from a ‘process’ or ‘journey’ perspective. However, as these three real examples below show reviewing the experience from a ‘scenario’ perspective can throw up unplanned experiences. This also demonstrates how evident it is when a brand has a customer experience ‘programme’ rather than a deep rooted philosophical belief. Otherwise the way these ‘unforeseen’ experiences are dealt with would have been very different.

There are brands who do make the most of these misfortunes. If you want to know how to turn blind spots into brand differentiating experiences get in contact. But for now I hope you enjoy these three examples.

Specsavers ‘managing’ operational issues from the front line

I popped in to the store for a pre-booked contact lens test. It was very good in terms of the service and overall experience, as ever. However, I couldn’t help but notice a post it on all the monitors. It read, ‘Please quote 10 days for jobs you would normally quote 7 days.Thanks’.

Managing customer expectations effectively is a key attribute of CX, but hanging this type of message out in front of customers festers a worry that everything said before and after by the staff isn’t quite true, even if it was meant with good and helpful intentions.

Without brand and quality control on board, the delivery of a customer experience will be inconsistent at best but can turn lawless if not contained. The interpretation of this experience by the consumer will then impact a new lesser perception of the brand, even if the intention of the CX delivery of the brand was entirely different.

Santander saying ‘sorry’ with a scrap of paper

santander2On my way to Specsavers I intended to get some cash out for a coffee later. But on passing the Santander ATM I was confronted with a usual modern sight; a faulty ATM. But rather than the usual screen denial message there was a personal note applied by the store.

it read, ‘please accept our apologies – this cash machine is not dispensing cash at the moment. Engineer on the way.’ All very good you might say. But considering this was more noticeable than the high gloss, high budget ads which hung in the branch window, it was delivered on a tatty and ripped scrap of paper.

So why doesn’t it have a ‘brand approved’ execution too? After all this is a regular occurrence. If I was heading in to discuss a current account would a seed of doubt have been planted? Possibly. Would it be enough to stop me? Possibly.

Costa’s Muffin creates such a buzz, I headed to Nero

Having completed my eye test I popped into Costa Coffee to grab a coffee and a muffin to take back to the office. However, I traced the buzz of the fly to a muffin being displayed in a large glass container. It is designed so that a customer can’t get their hand to the cakes. Okay, it may be just me, but on a cool October morning when you hear the buzz of a fly you think the worse in a restaurant or coffee shop. I had no idea how long the fly had been having a field day on the muffins or anything else I could have changed my order to. The barista were oblivious to it which again suggested they were worringly used to it.

The reality was probably very different. The fly had probably only just arrived, the barista probably hadn’t seen it but would get rid of it as soon as they did and the fly ‘brushing’ my muffin would make no difference to my eating pleasure. However, reality counts for little where perception is concerned.

The impact was made on my experience. I left the store and headed across to Nero which had no flies, or at least had dealt with them before I arrived so I was none the wiser. Flies are attracted to cakes and coffee so surely the scenario should have a CX response drilled into the Batista to reassure customers of brand quality standards.

In summary, none of us are perfect, but we need to plan to be more so

As consumers we can’t ‘un-see’ these sorts of things. They invariably play a part in our assessment of that brand and our future consideration of it. Therefore, making sure everyone from the boardroom, to the brand team to the ‘brigade’ on the front line are in on the joke. Make sure you look for the blind spots as well as the blindingly obvious if you want the customer experience delivery to be a differentiation rather than a detraction.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is an independent customer experience consultancy practice. We help clients deliver greater profit through more effective customer experience practices.

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

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

5 exceptional financial services customer experience examples

CX award winnweThis summer saw the UK’s first Financial Services Customer Experience awards (that’s me on the right with the winning Direct Line team). It was a great day with a few brands taking the lead now. Nationwide, Direct Line and Standard Life picked up more than one gong. With some smaller players demonstrating that you don’t need a big budget to deliver stand out customer service.

We were there to partner the occasion. We judged, we awarded prizes, we also provided the key-note speaker and we had a ball. So I am sure the 2016 finalists line up will be even more hotly contested.

It will also be interesting to see if the winners can continue to turn their famous winning experiences in to even more profitable outcomes for their shareholders (or members in Nationwide’s case), by obtaining more share of their contented customer’s wallet.

The financial service sector has woken up to Customer Experience. With that in mind, here are 5 great customer experiences. We’ve highlighted some which are unique and some which are well used. We hope they provide inspiration either way.

Umpqua Bank’s night time antics

umpqua.png2This American retail bank, with a growing network of branches is bucking the trend. They are locally focused so they’ve introduced a range of ways to embed themselves in the community. Which is all part of their positioning as a community bank. One of the ideas is the ‘hand the keys over’ initiative. When evening falls the branch is closed so the branch is a dead space. Space is much sort after by community groups, so members of the local community can hire the open areas of the branch for social activities such as Pilates and book readings – thereby helping the community out by making more of their underutilised assets.

Sun Life Direct making life easier when it’s painful enough 

sun life directFamous for the over 50’s life insurance (mainly bought for funeral planning) product, 98% of new policy holders state they are happy with the service they get when the plan is taken out.

However, following the death of the policy holder, when a relative claims for a payout is when the brand must really deliver. It used to take a few weeks to get a payout because of the pieces of information and documentation expected.

The irony being that the account holder was often buried before funds which they’d put premiums into the plan for, were released. So the very purpose of the plan was therefore not delivered upon! A basic fail.

Sun Life decided to challenge this with a ‘we take the risk’ approach. It reduced the requirement at claims to one number being needed. With this agreed at Sun Life payouts happen in days now and relatives have less to worry about.

Such is the impact of this idea I’ve since seen it win awards for a different brand, so it clearly has meaning and motivation.

First Direct pay customers for leaving

First Direct buck the trend by not only offering customers an incentive to open a current account, but so confident are they that the experience received once customers join or switch will meet customer’s expectations, they offer the same again for them to leave!

first directThe First Direct Service Guarantee states, “We’ll pay £100 per customer or joint relationship if you close your Account within 12 months of opening it <small print>. We’ll pay the £100 into your account prior to its closure. All accounts with First Direct have to be closed and your 1st Account transferred to another bank/building society.”

I’ve held an account with First Direct (among others) for many years. I can vouch for the thread of steel holding all experience touch points together, across products, across time.  This individual acknowledgement is backed up by several reputable studies and awards in customer service and experience including uSwitch and UKCSI.

Becu bank closing for good!

becu closed for goodThe American retail bank makes a commitment to the communities it serves which is authenticated through every aspect of the business delivery. It’s clearly an authentic focus for them. As their website states; PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST | MAKING OUR COMMUNITY A PLACE TO PUT DOWN ROOTS. As a consultancy which preaches a customer first philosophy (allowing profits to follow) we really connect with Becu. We are a fan and follower of their progress.

Their community commitment is evidenced through several initiatives; people helper rewards, environmental stewardship, financial empowerment partnerships, foundation scholarships and ‘Closed for Good’. These are great experiences for customers, employees and the community to enjoy who see Becu as a bank which cares for its community. It also helps employees understand the importance of community which ensures it is then evidenced through every other touch point.

‘Closed for Good’ is an initiative run on October 20th this year. It entails the bank closing until 1pm and every employee identifying where financial support will be beneficial and sharing their expertise with groups in the community. Is this the business model being delivered or marketing? Either way it ensures customers and prospects experience first hand or through the inevitable word of mouth, that Becu care about those they help. This delivers that rarest of commodities for banks; trust.

AIB’s digital transition lab

aib3There is efficiency in migrating customers to digital interactions with their bank – both for the bank and for the customer. Preemptive marketing which can help customers keep one step ahead of decisions is a good example of where banks can provide customer relationship updates via a digital platform. Click on the pic for a virtual tour of the AIB LAB.

Allied Irish Bank recognised that whilst this is a commercial ambition for the bank, customers benefit from it too. Customer adoption will take longer to move from the ‘comfortable and not broken’ to the new world of digital banking. With that in mind they have created a ‘digital transition’ store in Dundrum Town, Ireland which has no sales agenda but a hand holding experience for customers to trial new platforms and ask questions. According to AIB it’s “designed to deliver an exceptional customer experience through digital self-service.

The award-winning enterprise is making the retail assets move from sales to education to and the support creates a new experience perception of the bank whilst encouraging in a passive and comfortable way customers to trial and adopt new banking platforms. It also presents a future impression of the bank’s image through this experience enhancing activation.

If you’ve enjoyed this article other ‘5 exceptional experiences’ posts cover airlines, how to have fun with CX, hotels and automotive. Click on any to link straight through.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden has a proven track record in delivering Customer Experience Strategy and Management to clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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

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

How Imaginarium playfully deliver the 3 in 1 CX equation

We’ve featured Waitrose and Virgin Trains Customer Experience recently in this feature. So what is 3 in 1 CX? This is when we identify within one minute of engaging with a brand, three touch points which demonstrate the strength of their positioning and differentiation through customer experience.

Despite admiring these brands, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to showcase a favourite of mine, Imaginarium. I first enjoyed the European retailer’s toy shop experience a few years ago whilst working on a customer value proposition commission for an Italian Bank. Since then I’ve been a fan. So when I recently passed through Lisbon and spotted a store at the airport I seized my chance.

So what makes Imaginarium stand apart from the other toy stores? It’s that they recognise the importance of play, creativity and capturing the imaginative minds of children. This is brought to life in two important ways; the products and the in-store experience.

When it comes to the experience they look at it through the child’s eyes. This alternative view point makes the world of difference and creates a much more enjoyable retail experience for all. With two young children I’ve ventured into plenty of toy store retail chains and independents, but Imaginarium is the only one to have an unmistakable brand feel.

Within 1 minute of walking into an Imaginarium you get this. Here are three experiences at key touch points for any retailer which show how they deliver branded CX putting Imaginarium, in my mind, ahead of the others.

imaginarium1The entrance – this has become an iconic identity marque on the high street for Imaginarium. It works on so many levels. The mini arch acts as a greeter, it drives children to drag parents to the store, it is a beautifully different coloured shape to achieve stand out from all other shops in a mall or on a street, it says we are non-conformist to the convention of retail, it allows children to arrive in the store For just a second) on their own,

it’s a perfect defining brand moment which others can never copy and most importantly it says to parents and children you are equally important in our store.

imaginarium2The promotion – In a toy shop, sweets are an ancillary offer. They are non-core and therefore a promotion to enhance the brand reputation. Ancillaries often drive incremental profit for companies. And as long as they reinforce the strength of the brand (and not exploit it for short-term sales as some lesser companies believe they are there for), they can be useful promotions for the brand.

Imaginarium deliver this really well. Their displays are works of art which have to be experienced. They take common products (sweets in this case) and present them in totally engaging and intoxicating way making the cross-sell an enjoyable experience.

imaginarium3

The take out –  When you leave the store with your purchase in tact the transporter for the goods should of course be practical but also be a perfect reminder of the brand purchased. Imaginarium get this. Which is why their carry out bags are branding messages to the customers reminding all why Imaginarium are there and what they celebrate.

The bag states “Playing for a Better Future” and features various children. It has visual stand out and a core brand message. It’s also a bag parents will find hard to throw out (who would dare throw out this bag). They are so proud of their bags, they hang in the store.

Within 1 minute of walking into the store these three experiences wash over you and remind you how much fun Imaginarium is and how important inspiring children’s imagination is to their existence.

Imaginarium are there already, but at Lexden it’s our mission to help other clients find their own brand defining experience moments which also increase sustainable profits through content customer commitment.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden – Independent Customer Strategists

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for free monthly 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.