Tag Archives: cx talent

Can you really coach Customer Experience?

Because I’m totally sure you can.

A recent visit to Bluewater involved buying some new shoes for my wife. On inspecting two different colourways of the said shoes, we inadvertently swapped their designated positions on the wall display. Having worked as Floor Manager between College and University (a good few years ago) in the Nike store in Brighton, I understand that visual merchandising does have a purpose, but what happened next led me to ask the above question.

As we stepped back to review the range again, an employee of the shop then walked over (without asking us if we needed any help may I add) to stand in front of the shoes, and moved the two shoes back to their original positions, while being so far in to our personal space that we had to take a couple of steps back.

No big deal really, but I can think of at least six very simple things that were wrong from a CX perspective within this ten second (non) interaction.

How did it impact our behaviour? We went and got the shoes at a direct competitor.

The thing is though, if I had gone through this with the assistant, I really don’t think he would have for one second understood why any of those six points were a poor experience, and I think his response would have been something like ‘well the shoes have to be in that order…’.

Saving the conversation about customers’ having poor experiences because internal rules and processes for another time, can you really coach Customer Experience to someone this oblivious to what’s best for the customer at any given time?

Satisfied at having a new customer experience to talk about, I began to think back to my time in the Nike sto
re – did my customers have poor experiences under my watch when I was young and single-minded? Well, yes, they did.

I can remember two instances. Firstly, obsessed with my sales figures vs. the 1st floor of the shop, I would routinely send customers upstairs for refunds so my figures weren’t affected. Secondly, I remember closing the changing room to customers once, just so I could get in and out to access mannequins/shelves/fittings etc. to work on merchandising. The area Manager turned up that day, and at the time I scoffed at his disgust that I was making people go upstairs to try on their clothes – of course now practising customer experience I acknowledge how right he was!

So, here I am now able to recognise and improve poor customer journeys – what happened? Was I coached, or did I just learn through osmosis, working in organisations who care about the customer? A mixture, is the answer. Formal coaching has had a place, customer focussed programmes and developing a Customer Experience Centres of Excellence have too, as have particular managers, whom I had great respect for.

The true answer though, if there is one, lies for me in recruitment (and the resulting culture). While my conclusion means that I slipped through the net as someone who didn’t really understand the value of every interaction with the customer at the time.

If your recruitment programme has genuine focus on recruiting staff (consistently and at all levels) who understand that everything they do has a positive or negative emotional impact on the customer at each touchpoint, the organisation itself will begin to take the shape of one that customers want to join, stay with, and talk about positively.

If you run or are involved in a customer experience programme consider how central are Recruitment to that? do they look for people with suitable customer experience tags, or individuals who can talk about emotive and commercial impact in the same sentence? I’d argue the former gives you shoes laid out in the right order, the later a deep understanding of why customer experience matters.

With 89% of companies prioritising customer experience in 2017, attention to all impacting areas on CX success come in to play if you want to drive success. If you’d like to know how to recruit the right customer experience types, contact us and we will let you in on the secret.

Posted by James Edmonds, Senior Consultant, Lexden.

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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

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Mastering FS CX with Lexden

philLast month we ran our inaugural ‘Masterclass in Financial Services Customer Experience’.  We had a full house and a packed agenda. Since that day we’ve received a healthy wave of positive feedback. It has reassured me that we have provided relevant and thought-provoking content to those good enough to come, which was the original motivation.

I have been invited to attend, speak or sponsor a number of CX events already this year. So why did we decide to run another CX event? Well it’s simple really. We are independent customer experience consultants, not event managers or vendors of CX solutions. So we could share freely. We wanted clients to hear conventions challenged and indiscretions exposed. We also wanted to share practical insights that could be given to others to take and apply.

Without these constraints we could make the event complimentary too. Our hosts were the ABI who kindly provided their conference venue having heard our ambition. I am indebted to the wonderful Julie Geraud from the ABI for making that happen.

If you missed the day you can sign up on our website under downloads Click Here and access all the presentations from the day. Plus a short video of speeches will follow too.

CB on stageI am also grateful to our presenters who agreed to take the stage, without previous evidence of a Lexden event to compare what it would be like against. They included:

  • Professor Dr Phil Klaus (that’s him on the right), author of #2 Amazon Business Book, ‘Measuring Customer Experience’ and award winner of numerous CX studies. Dr Phil showed why chasing promoters is fool’s gold and how an alternative measure is 87% more accountable (that’s not a typo);
  • Fellow of the MRS Tom Kerr, a recognised name in FS customer insight. Tom gave to the audience the only model you need when it comes to fulfilling customers experience needs and desires. This was the real deal;
  • Tour de force Darren Cornish, the inspirational CX Director at customer-centric The Share Centre. Darren explained the pains and the pros of putting a customer first in the business model and helped practitioners realise what you need to do;
  • Brian Simpson, the employee engagement expert with a lifetime of experience behind him. Brian created real empathy with the audience sharing emotional experiences that only someone who has been through the pains of engaging employees in customer experience change management understands;
  • An expert panel including Lexden associates Colette Porter and Alvin Jackson, Jo von Riemsdijk from CX Talent and Basia Szumska-Hale from Geneysis;
  • And I handed over the blue print for successfully embedding brand differentiation in customer experience programmes to drive ROI of 6:1

The content was first class with much revealed by all. I had explained to speakers I wanted the audience to take back to their desks ideas, insights and inspiration they could apply and they  duly delivered.

But most of all I am grateful to the people from Visa, HSBC, Ageas, Just Retirement, Direct Line, Dixons Carphone, HGI, Partnerships, Zurich, AXA-PPP Healthcare, TNS, Barclays, Denplan, Legal & General, Kensington Mortgages, Royal London, UK General, Boost, CX Talent and all our attendees for having faith that giving up time to attend would be a worthwhile trade.

We have been encouraged to do more following feedback. So we will be taking the event on the road West and North and looking to re-run the event in other sectors too.

For those who attended slides will be made available and for those who missed it there is a video to follow shortly.

What I love about customer experience is the generosity of those practitioners within it to share freely ideas, models and improvement techniques. We want to be associated with the best practitioners in this sector so glad to share our ideas and thinking too.

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.

How I won without even entering the UK Customer Experience Awards

IMG_4794On 25th September I sat down to watch five heavyweights of banking take each other on in a battle of customer experience supremacy. Visa, RBS, NatWest, Virgin Money and Nationwide presented their customer experience initiatives to me and four fellow judges. As MD of Lexden, an independent customer experience agency, I am used to working with senior stakeholders to demonstrate the advantage of improvements. But that didn’t stop me feeling anything less than extremely privileged to chair the group.

The whole day is a genuine pleasure for several reasons, which as MD of Lexden justifies me taking time out of the schedule to enjoy the event. By the end of the day, even without a drink, I felt like a winner because of what I’d enjoyed and gained from the day. Here’s why…

The Judging format

As judges we receive the written entries a couple of weeks before to review and grade. Then on the day each company presents their entry. It’s then you get to see the passion for putting the customer first and can share the challenges they’ve had to get to this place. It’s inspiring and makes you realise we work in a brilliant industry when you watch the fabulous entries unpacked and presented for customer and commercial benefit.

Variety of organisations competing

Having judged discipline awards such as direct marketing, PR and loyalty you find companies are separated by size as well as sector. With the CX Awards all sized companies can compete alongside each other for categories such as ‘best use of customer insight’ or ‘team of the year’. I was chatting to a team from a smaller finance processing house who had been up against high street brands from other sectors, which made them feel great even though they hadn’t won on this occasion. The reason this can happen is unlike many other disciplines, the customer is the common currency here, which results in such diversity.

It’s also reflected in the occupations of the guests. Where else do you find Professors of Psychology rubbing shoulders with bank tellers rubbing shoulders with marketing execs rubbing shoulders with customers and their dogs (yes – that is right, Eurostar brought a customer and their pet dog along to support their case study).

Wonderful people

IMG_4800On that point of ‘broad cross section’, there is still something that every one of the 2,000 people Awards International attract (and wonderfully look after) at this event has in common; everyone is genuinely passionate about putting the customer first. Some awards collections were delayed as the recipients were in floods of tears such their commitment to that cause. It was emotional to see how much companies want to do the right thing.

Of course it’s more than just interesting for us at Lexden as an Independent Customer Strategy Consultancy helping clients to achieve just that.

Surprising guests

I saw many clients, former colleagues and friends at the event. But two stood out for me because they have offers which are not core to customer experience, but highlight how this area really is growing into a leading industry in business and marketing.

IMG_4807I met up with judges, Jo and Kate. They run a growing recruitment company called CX Talent DEDICATED to customer experience. The importance of the DEDICATED bit can not be stressed enough. Having helped a client recruit a customer insight and customer experience team from a generalist recruiter before it is a nightmare. With two minutes I could tell they knew their onions and their text analytics and their NPS from their EXQ. No recruiter should be without them!

I also met Millie and her colleagues from Boost Marketing. A company dedicated to helping people win awards – what a job! They are fiercely secretive about who they work with but they seemed to be smiling an awful lot when winners were announced. My conclusion being they are very successful at what they do! The conversations I had at our table with Millie suggested a real depth of understanding and interest in CX, which is reassuring if you appoint them to help shape your award entry submissions or help with your award entry presentation,

So there we are, why I enjoy these awards so much. Fortunately the industry is growing and with the quality of submissions each year improving I conclude we are in good shape too.

I am looking forward to helping clients win more awards and judging even better entries as the event which celebrates the very best the CX industry has to offer.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Managing Director, Lexden Ltd

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.

How to start a Customer Experience Strategy: 1/5 Ensure the team has the right experience

I was approached recently at a conference and asked “what are the key pieces of advice you would give a business when embarking on a customer experience strategy?”

The quick answer would be “start with the customer”. Whilst we’d advocate this as a principal thought within a programme it actually doesn’t work when it comes to running customer experience programmes.

So I started to think about programmes we have set up and the various successful components that made the difference such as: setting up relationship and transactional NPS programmes; setting customer visions; developing a deeper customer understanding within the business; running strategic improvement games; root cause analysis programmes; aligning customer performance measures to business targets and various other activities. Which would I choose?

But when I thought again, these are all essentials when the programme is being set up or is underway. The question posed was about starting out. This led me to a different shortlist. I thought this was a great question. So I have shared my answer below.

If you follow these will you stand a better chance of succeeding than if you start with the customer? Absolutely. Read on to discover why.

  1. Ensure those responsible for the customer experience have the right experience too
  2. If it’s the company that wants to be more customer-centric start with that, not the customer
  3. Understand the potential and the limits of customer experience early on
  4. Once you are in, you are all in and you are in for the long haul if you intend to profit
  5. Short cuts exist, resist. Only short lived programmes use them 

1. Ensure those responsible for the customer experience have experience too

One thing we find about customer experience is that until fairly recently 99% of organisations haven’t looked at experience as a discreet discipline. There are fewer customer experience experts than in any other area of marketing. Until recently there wasn’t even a recruitment company set up to cater for the discipline. There is now, cxtalent.

cx talent 2

The truth is no-one has been charged with the experience task, teams have been charged with compliance or product or sales or recruitment or store design or food and beverages – all important but only a slice of the much bigger pie which experience impacts.

What is critically needed is a team with representation from the broader business interests. And representing the customer is a trust agent who has played the role before (a CX consultant) to steer through the choppy waters which lie ahead. A wise head with CX programme establishment and engagement experience.

Nothing beats Customer Experience like experience in customer experience.

Importantly, the role includes having the strength and vision to keep the customer woven through everything, like a thread of steel. Even when those around are challenged against a paper thin evidence bank (it is rather scant at the start, even most of the insight is revealed as being built around product or brand rather than customers) and revert to former comfort zones.

Identifying who is best placed to lead customer experience is a critical decision. The first hand up in the board room or team meeting may not be the right person. And the team, it is a team because there’s so much ground to cover, need guidance as there are more sharks than treasure to be found in the customers experience seas.

The question was about starting out so I won’t go into this point, but it’s worse than that. The reality is the best team you can put out to kick off the customer experience strategy will not be the same team you will want to finish the game.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

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

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

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