Tag Archives: customer

Can the high street retailers use CX to stay relevant?

With the unfortunate circumstances surrounding House of Fraser and Debenhams, not long after British Home Stores disappeared from the high streets the giants of retailing are falling.

Has the high street kept up with the expectations of the modern customer? This means making itself more relevant and attractive than other channels. At best retail will be part of our shopping experience, but indicators are that many are being sacrificed as the online retailers take a bigger slice of the retail pie.

A couple of recent retail experiences demonstrate to me how old cost reduction models are still dominating the high street. Whilst online retailers use the assets they have to develop technology which fulfils customer requirements. See if you can spot the future of retailing from these three examples:

ASOS – Search and select outfits capability 

You see an item someone in a magazine or on the high street is wearing and you think ‘I like that, where did they get it?’. You snap it and load up on your ASOS app. they then search (using their trickery magic) and select a match or similar looking items for you. Easy and a ‘go to’ option for any impromptu clothes shopping.

Next turn away sales to save employee effort

I haven’t been in Next for so long, but I was passing and saw a 50% sale poster outside. I popped in and my eye was drawn to a dress shirt wrapped in it’s packaging. I am never quite sure what size I am, so wanted to try it first. The pattern was very colourful and just what I wanted, but I again wanted to see what it looked like on.

I headed to the changing room with the shirt and a pair of trousers I liked the look of. I hadn’t meant to pick up the trousers, they sort of jumped in to my arms on the way to the changing rooms. I didn’t think they’d look any good but thought I’d try them om anyway.

At the changing room the member of staff took my shirt off me, asked my collar size and gave me a cream, silky shirt in my collar size. I looked confused so the changing room manager told me the problem was that people get the shirts out, they can’t put them away properly so have to hang them up and then people don’t buy them because they are not in packaging. I meant to get a picture of the ‘prison shirt’ at this point, but was so gobsmacked I forgot. For some reason I went alone with this and tried the garment others used (I didn’t think about that at the time) on – it didn’t even fit. I took it off and headed to the till with just the trousers which I didn’t think would fit, but once tried I realised did. 

At the till I explained the shirt didn’t fit, to which he replied, ‘well not all shirts are the same cut’. So what was the point of the charade of the ‘trial’ shirt! I asked if I bought the shirt and took it home to try it on and it didn’t fit could I bring it back to which he said of course. So I asked why do I need to come here anymore, he just smiled knowingly. I left, unlikely to ever need to return.

So I’ll shop for from home now. The only problem being when I am in their store, they have my attention but when I am at home, I never think of them and always default to ASOS.

Argos reduce store size, and the customer base with it

In the town I live, like many others Argos has shed its retail footprint skin and become incubated within the Sainsbury’s supermarket. I needed a lap top case and thought Argos. Having seen the shopped moved I headed to Sainsbury’s. I found a small corner of the store with Argos tablets and a counter which was stacked full of good behind it. It reminded me of Screwfix or The Tool Station. The grand stacking and conveyor belt set up, which I always felt was quaintly Generation Game like, had gone.

I punched my request on the key pad and a perfect laptop case came up. I requested to buy it but it was out of stock. I paused and thought I can never remember EVER going into an Argos and them not having the item in stock. The option was to have it delivered at home, despite the fact I was in store. I reluctantly agreed and was asked to go to the front desk/til to pay. The member of staff then punched my order in asking all the questions I’d given the tablet and more to arrive at the answer, ‘we don’t have it in stock’. I replied that I knew this and could he order it to be sent to my home. He explained further, that they didn’t have it in stock at all locally, ‘we don’t hold as much now’. Really? I would never have guessed!

I concluded that the transfer into the supermarket space had both reduced stock space and required new, yet to be compatible stock management systems.

I asked what I do now. He helpfully explained I could go back to tablet I used before, and when it told me to pay, he would then check again and tell me if it was in at all. I asked whether it would be quicker to go home and order, to which he said they’d probably see a wider national coverage of stock and it may be available somewhere in the country.

So my conclusion was that by visiting the new store it made it clear I would be wise ordering online from home from Argos. The challenge is, when I’m in store Argo don’t have to compete with Amazon, they have my business. When I am at home, I never think of them and always default to Amazon.

Retail CX revolution

These experiences tell me two key points:

  1. ASOS are going places (alright I’m 18 years behind the curve here) and being a customer will be a fun and engaging retail experience
  2. I am now an inconvenience to Argos and Next because I wanted to use the advantage of their retail set up.

If retailers want to outlast their digital cousins, they need to update their mindset and then their CX, because they are making it ‘less painful’ to shop online. Online retailers only need to set up and fulfil the basics and they look streets ahead (pardon the pun).

Here’s hoping the best practice lessons from other service based sectors with human interaction can be carried over to the retailers, before they become completely irrelevant to us all.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant                                                        Lexden, The Customer Experience Practice

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Are customers being unfair on Ryanair?

It’s been difficult to miss the recent trauma caused to the Ryanair brand following its announcement that its pilots are off on holiday for the rest of the year. An estimated 2% of flights were to be cancelled, meaning very few ‘customers’ are impacted (according to them).

‘Have your say’ poll below

I’m one of the 98%, whose flights went ahead, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t aware or affected by the situation. I have still seen all the news and abuse they been getting in the press and social media. It’s also crashed into my customer journey when I flew because I had to put more effort in to remove the anxiety involved with sticking with Ryanair.

When I saw the initial announcement, I had flights booked to Copenhagen for business. I didn’t know if they intended to publish a cancellation but heard stories of passengers being told two hours beforehand that their flight had been cancelled. I was due to run two days of customer journey mapping workshops, so couldn’t take the risk.

I booked the flights originally because of the convenience factor of them. I’d be departing from an airport close to me and at a time that suited. The cost of the flights matters less to me. a lot less than an airline honouring a flight where there are dependencies at the other end.

So, I booked back-up flights in case the Ryanair flights were cancelled and I didn’t know whether they’d tell passengers about cancellations. The back-up flights were from an airport 90 mins further away from me than the Ryanair flights, so a lot less convenient, but at least I knew I’d get there if mine were cancelled which had now become a more important criteria than convenience.

When the cancellation list was published my flight was not on it. But as a colleague said, ‘when you buy cheap, you end up buying twice’. Ryanair positions itself at the cheap end of the cheap brand spectrum, so the old advertiser’s wife’s tale certainly came true for me. In fact, I’ve ended up lining the pockets of two other airlines they compete with just so I can use Ryanair.

Is Ryanair being unfair to me as a customer? 

I don’t think it is. I understand I am a transaction to Ryanair and not a customer. It’s always been that way. I accept that to afford the price of their ticket I need to lower my expectations. I need to sacrifice quality and a lot more besides because we enter into a transaction, not a customer relationship. That’s the trade. If I want to be treated like a customer, I should choose an alternative carrier. I get that.

So it’s my choice and they don’t try and present themselves as anything more than that, so we get along just fine. In fact, I’ve booked over twenty trips so far this and a noticeable proportion of those have been with Ryanair so I hop it’s commercially viable for them too.

But will everyone feel the same?

From a share price perspective, they are 25pts up on where they were this time last year. But what’s your view? Complete the survey below and see what others think too.

Will passengers change their airline?

Perhaps those who have lost hundreds on hotels and car hire will be less likely to consider Ryanair, especially as they cant get refunds from their travel insurers for which Ryanair state legally isn’t their problem.

People who had events and activities planned like visiting family abroad for key birthdays, weddings organised or taking friends and loved ones away for much anticipated trips might hold a long term resentment if they can reschedule at no extra cost.

I know they have slim margins and are looking for me to demonstrate my fallible human side and make a mistake (e.g. I forget to check in 2 hours before hand or I need a drink of water and pay €3 on board when it costs 69p if i’d remembered to get it before I flew, or if show weakness and exercise my right to sit with my wife and young sons on the flight and pay for seats to do so). Those extras are part of their business model, they need to protect them.

But in return, they don’t expect me to be ‘very satisfied’ with the experience. they don’t expect me to tell others to use their airline, they don’t expect me to be loyal to them and they don’t expect me to enjoy using Ryanair. It’s a transaction. We both know where we stand and I think it works pretty well.

Can I remember when I travelled with Ryanair and where to? No, it’s a pretty forgettable experience.

Can I tell you how good the experience was? I didn’t notice anything, but I didn’t expect to.

Can I recall a positive memorable moment from dealing with them? They are not creating happy memories. That’s not what cheap brands do. 

Would I tell others to choose them? No, but that’s not important to them. They aren’t looking to give me any reason to do so and I have no reason to tell anyone else to use them.

If I want a memorable flight I should choose another airline. Ryanair do not have the margins or the brand to satisfy customers, so why would they focus on it?

Does this episode reaffirm Ryanair’s brand, rather than damage it?

I’ve also found the Ryanair cancellation was a hot topic amongst the Swiss, German, Danish and Belgium attendees at the workshop. It seems others are not so accommodating. Listening to the discussion amongst the international group of business travellers, I hadn’t appreciated how wide reaching this incident had become.

Some decided to use a different airline to get to the workshop to previously used Ryanair. They said it was a nice experience so they would carry on now they’d realised the flight experience was important to them.

But we shouldn’t be disappointed in Ryanair. The incident itself and how they have conducted themselves throughout the flight cancellation saga has been true to their brand. Whether it’s not publishing the cancellation list early enough, putting pilots holidays before passengers holidays, sitting in front of an advertising poster of smiling actors posing on a beach as the CEO says sorry we can’t fly some of you to the beach or not sharing compensation information legally obliged to until the regulator barks, they been consistent.

All these have been executed perfectly in line with the values of Ryanair. Few other companies could turn a crisis in to such as demonstration of unwavering alignment to their brand.

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

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

Advertising. Is it worth the paper it’s printed on anymore?

Last week I travelled on the tube and was confronted in the same carriage with three soulless executions advertising Apps.

Having been a brand and comms planner in an agency I know the client brief can sometimes be slightly thin on the ground. However, that’s when the opportunity lies to test your strength in teasing out the killer insight that will connect the brand and its differentiated offer with what yearns to be fulfilled in its chosen audience.

Having also worked with some great creatives I know that even when that insight appears quite generic or stretched, it’s still possible to light a touch-paper of excitement in the audience by resonating with them through common ground of interest through brilliant creative.

So why is that much of the App service advertising I see fails to shine? Apps are the new ‘must visit’ retailer, the new ‘must have’ manufactured product, the new ‘must experience’ destination. Having transcended to Customer Experience Consultancy to embed brand across engagement touch points, I enviously look at these little pockets of technological potential and think wow; what an opportunity. If I was 15 years younger and these NewCo briefs were landing on my planning desk I’d feel like I bagged the John Lewis Christmas campaign brief! So why is it the communications out there promoting modern Apps often seems to be amongst the least engaging?

Getting back to the examples presented to me on the tube, they’d managed to underline this mediocrity by sharing the same execution technique; ‘the play on words’ to attempt to promote their distinction and usefulness – I say ‘attempt’ because their value as brand were lost on me.

When apps were still in napp(ie)s I can recall a conversation with a creative team who suggested to turn to ‘play on words’ as a communication solution was only acceptable when every other method including applying the mirror of self-reflection and handing your notice in had been tried.

So have my troublesome three simply slipped through the ‘take pride in what you deliver’ creative sign-off process, or are they really the result of something much better that I’m just missing? For me, they brilliantly demonstrate a lack of connection with their audience, no promise to fulfil unmet needs or differentiate from others in achieving this. In fact, the energy burnt out before the message does.

pun ad 2I recognise the ‘Just Eat’ campaign which lives on TV too and is made up of only play on words of songs (not that I have worked out this one yet). I feel it begs the question, ‘what are you’. I quite like the ‘chicken madras’ reference and razzmatazz on TV, but I quite like the new series of Robot Wars as well – it’s not enough. I know Just Eat is a take away service, I’ve seen decals everywhere, but that’s it. I don’t get any sense of advantage conveyed through these messages, hence I’ve failed to even consider them when ordering take away.

pun ad 3I can’t quite work out from my pic this company or what they are promoting – never good for mass media ad space. But to choose the word ‘App’ in their play on words execution means I am left guessing it’s either something to do with checkered shirts, or one of the other tens of thousand Apps providing some form of retail or travel advantage. Either way it’s too late, my attention is diverted to another ad.

The third example does actually manage to tie the play on words in to the proposition regarding saving time choosing what to cook. I say that, the words scan at least. That said the Lionel Richie song has no relationship with this proposition of saving time, so it’s 100% superficial.

pun ad 1

I start to think that a bit like the explosion of soft toys give away from all comparison site following the success of Sergei and Compare the Meerkat, do we have another spate of ‘copycat’ Just Eat executions here?

The interesting thing each one of those ads has had hours poured into it to devise an idea, talent applied to produce it, consideration and agreement to approve it, not to mention a slice of some investor’s commitment or chunk from the company profit put behind it to get it on the tube wall.

Ipun ad 4f you are thinking you quite like play on word ads, then I accept there are some great examples such as FCUK. There is also this stunning example, crafted without the benefit of a comms agency shows how to connect with your audience as well as fulfil unmet needs (beyond the repair).

As App companies grow up the will see the need to connect with customers, to retain their attention they will need to promise betterment in a meaningful way their audience can process and deliver an experience which is valued to retain them.

If they are struggling with comms, how will they fare when it comes to customer experience. It could prove the graveyard for App services unless they start to promote something their customers can connect with of value, best served through meaningful content.

Take a look around the walls adorned with ads next time you have a few moments. Search out the ads promoting Apps. If you find one which you think connects with its audience in a meaningful, motivating and differentiating way please send it to me to restore my faith. Or if you find a play on words ad which isn’t ‘bottom of the barrel’ material again email me.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com 

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’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

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.

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.

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.

 

Virgin Trains deliver the 3 in 1 CX equation

Anyone who has spent time on Virgin Trains will agree the ‘experience’ is different to those on other rail networks. In fact, as I travel on other networks I see more and more of Virgin’s ‘touches’ appearing. However, with Virgin it seems natural because that’s what the Virgin brand investment promises. With others rail companies it often seems awkward and stands out like a sore thumb.

Our preoccupation is to help clients identify what customer experiences drive profit and make those brand differentiating. Simple really. Through years of experience with this focus, we’ve accepted that driving profitable CX is much more likely to succeed when backed by a brand which is:This is the latest in our series of 3 branded experiences in a minute.

  1. meaningful to its customers so they can extract the value it offers;
  2. accessible by its employees to translate into meaningful customer experiences;
  3. envied by their competition who can at best deliver a ‘me 2’ copy of an experience.

Within a minute of arriving on a Virgin Train there are three brilliant reminders of their brand strength, delivered through the least likely of experience opportunities.

The step

This isn’t just any step. Courtesy of the Virgin brand, this is a whooshing, moving into place, Thunderbirdesque gliding Virgin step in to a world of potential (okay, slightly carried away, but you get the picture). It possibly is more attributable to the train manufacturer than Virgin for the steps movement, but none of the other companies have one.. Even if they did, theirs would still be a dirty step on to a train. With Virgin Trains, the brand promise has meant it could be so much more (even when it’s dirty too).

The loo seat

Virgin Trains demonstrate that ‘any’ piece of estate can be leveraged. This message could only come from them though.  You will find it on the back of the loo seat on-board, it’s also in the voice over in the loo…..yep the voice over in the loo. It starts as expected with, ‘please don’t flush nappies, paper towels’…but ends in a less expected place with ‘your ex’s sweater, hopes, dreams or goldfish’. This toilet humour would be strange from any other network, even though they have the same infrastructure, but for Virgin it is spot on.

virgin trains.jpg4virgin trains

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The loo wall

Apologies. My one minute journey took me from boarding to this room! It’s just a wall, surely! On every other train this is no more than a beige bobbly abyss of a wall. But on a Virgin Train it’s an escape route to another world. Admittedly not every other network has a balloon enterprise to throw up, although I couldn’t see that ever stacking up as a, ‘the reason we don’t do it’ response from the competition.

What it does show, to all, is how the less conspicuous and often overlooked spaces have as much a role to play in delivering branded customer experience as the more obvious areas of improvement such as service, comms and technology.

This issue featured Virgin Trains. Click here for our recent blog on Waitrose.

If you want to find out more about how to deliver brand differentiating customer experience, contact us,

We will bring you more 3 in 1 adventures from the world of CX. Next stops will include Citizen M and Mini. If you have a nominee for the 3 in 1 CX equation please send them through.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

We help clients build profitable customer experiences and create commercially advantageous 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.