Tag Archives: innovation

5 examples of how to have fun with Customer Experience

Often customer experience improvements focuses on broken processes, reducing friction or the dreaded self-serve (normally cheaper for the business but more effort on the customers than they would really like). All are about taking away pain and turning detractors into promoters….okay passives.

But do companies have the momentum to take this through from their ‘permission to trade’ or ‘brilliant basics’ level up to ‘make it enjoyable’ level? Not always sadly. But when they do it creates positive talking points and memorable experiences. Of course without the maintenance ground work, building fun experiences is more difficult for the business to feel it should be investing in or customers to enjoy if they’ve got outstanding gripes.

Suspend that thought and put yourself in the shoes of a customer experience team who are over the brow of that hill and living in the ‘make it enjoyable’ zone. Here are five enjoyable customers experiences which tickled us and we hope you take inspiration from too.

What we like about these is that you can see what the old experience was like. It wasn’t actually broken but there’s always room for improvement. Someone has said, ‘Could we make it more fun and see if that makes it more successful?’

Turn left. You will

tomtomThe technologists behind sat-nav science are incredible. But those at TomTom who decided to make the instructions barked at you come from the voices of John Cleese, Mr T, Yoda or Darth Vadar are genius. Rather than labour over the technological improvements in the mapping accuracy, which is already a 1000%  better than me reading the map, adding the voice increases the fun threshold to warp factor 10. And as soon as you get bored you can change to new voice.  In fact, Brian Blessed is the latest voice to be immortalised – Gordon’s alive!

Challenge Pizza Hut

Ipizzhut came across this example through twitter so have pieced the story together. But as I can make out when ordering there is a ‘any special requests’ section taken at the end of the order. Typically the response is ‘please hold the onion’ or ‘double anchovy’, but the customer has thrown in a cheeky ‘draw a dinosaur on the box’ request and rather than tell the customer to take a jump, the Pizza Hut staff have risen to the challenge and made a boring space very fun. It begs the question what else can you do with the inside of a take away box!

Grow your money trees

Umpqua could have a whole blog on fun experience all to themselves. Where others are moving from retail banking to mobile banking they are opening more stores. And according to Barclay’s analysts’ it’s not just a community play, it’s a commercially sound model. The Economist reported, “Barclays predicts by the end of next year, Umpqua’s return on equity will be 14%, far above the average”.


They do things differently. For examples here is a plant on a customer’s door step. That may be what it looks like to you and I but this is actually a loan mailing. I’m sure you can get the creative reference link to growth, but you may have got the fact that what is normally a dry comms piece is made memorable and fun. And guess what it outperforms any other loan mailing stats you’ve ever seen!

Beep. Beep. Making shopping more fun for Mums

 tescocarToy cars in supermarket are not new. In fact they’ve been with us for a few years now having been introduced by Tesco in 2007. But go back to that moment when someone said, ‘I know stick a toy car to the trolley’. After a ‘Are you insane!’ was first fired back the visionary commercialist (also known as the customer experience manager) would have said, ‘hang on there is something in this. Anxious Mum’s buy less. Mum’s get anxious because of bored kids. Bored kids love driving toy cars. Toy cars would fit to a shopping trolley’ at which point everyone’s proverbial penny would have dropped. It was brilliant then and it always will be brilliant. And it’s less to fund than a crèche!

And the overall winner in the CX fun category is…

My favourite examples of fun in customer experience are those like the Tesco example above where fun has been used to take away anxiety or a negative behaviour. It’s a movement in its own right and if you are interested take a look at the VW Fun Factory examples.

But to finish my favourite example of improved customer experience is actually from real life. It’s the toddler eating journey that parents go through daily. It makes business challenges look like a walk in the park when it goes wrong! Getting small children, who are very good at manipulating broken processes, to eat when they want to play is a real challenge. But this fun idea is very successful and has probably been around since toddlers first needed feeding, but the ingenuity of it is still stunning.


Put into a corporate context, ‘fun food’ versus ‘as it comes food’ – the outcome is exactly the same food gets eaten so why do it. But with fun food there are three huge advantages:

  1. More produce (toddler’s food) is consumed with fewer issues (tantrums) reducing time and effort spent on getting the customer complaints (toddler pacified).
  2. The customer (toddler) engages in the process (dinner time) willingly prepared to be distracted from the other more enjoyable daily tasks (toys and TV).
  3. The front line staff member (Mum) is more productive because there is less effort needed (feeding & remaking thrown food) and satisfied because the labours have been appreciated (feel like a good parent for a moment).

If you want some new inspiring creators of fun customer experience recruit a group of Mums with toddlers (left at home). They are world class fun CX practioners.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

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 experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or 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 case studies at www.lexdengroup.com 

Taxis, typos and one question

I need your help to settle an argument.

Here is the real life scenario. I am currently working with a client in the incredibly fast moving arena of businesses being able to accept payments from customers. Bear with me; I know it might sound strange but it is surprisingly interesting. It is the world of contactless payments, Google wallets and paying for things using your mobile phone. And it is a world where technology is moving so fast that it is effectively impossible to keep up, whilst figuring out at the same time how to provide the best solutions for customers.

CabbieThe only way I know to approach these tricky commercial problems is to talk to customers. Hence my conversation with a London cabbie yesterday. I asked him whether I could pay for my journey by card instead of cash (rather than stopping at an ATM).

Cabbie:  “Naah sorry-it costs too much. It would be useful like, but then I’d have to charge you an extra 10% and that’s not right is it? So I don’t bother.”

Me:  “Have you heard about these newer companies which give you a bit of kit you can plug into your phone and which allow you to accept card payments from passengers? It costs about 3% per transaction”

Cabbie:  “Funny you should say that. A geezer gave me this earlier today.”

In the amazing way London taxi drivers do, without taking his eyes off the road for an instant, he reached down next to him and passed a leaflet back to me. It described a mobile payment device from a German company called payleven, with whom I am familiar. Here it is:

payleven 2Two things about the leaflet I wanted to point out:
1. The missing apostrophe in the headline
2. Three spelling mistakes in 27 words in the “what we stand for” section.

The argument I want your help with is this: to what extent is a consumer’s likelihood to buy a (new) product or service impacted by the presence of small, completely minor errors or mistakes in a customer facing part of a proposition such as a leaflet or brochure?

Of course, in the context of a whole business, these are relatively small mistakes and explainable. “It was the agency’s fault.” “We spotted the mistake early and only 50 leaflets were actually distributed.” “I am terrible at spelling.” “These things happen. “  I am not talking about this. Whatever the cause of the mistakes, I want to ascertain their impact on a potential customer’s attitude to buying from, in this case, payleven.

I’ll nail my colours to the mast. When I see things like this I come over all queasy. I really don’t like it. My view is that if, for whatever reason or excuse, a customer sees something like this it has a fundamental and overwhelming negative influence on their likelihood to purchase. And in a new area such as mobile payment acceptance, where we have the incredibly challenging job of trying to get consumers to change their behaviour and adopt new technology, the negative impact is amplified. My mind (as well as my heart.  And gut.) says: if payleven have not paid sufficient attention to this, why should I believe there are not similar errors in their clever coding which means, for instance, that my card details are not as protected as I might like?

School But I am genuinely open to the fact that it may not have such a big impact.

Innovative, tech based companies such as payleven, Wonga, Metro Bank and Funding Circle are trailblazers. Because of how they have redreamed(?) what a BAU customer experience can be like in financial services, they are amongst my favourite types of company.  And also because, by demonstrating to customers what ‘good’ can look like, they are compelling incumbent bigger players to up their own game-which they are doing.  The new boys and girls have been the catalyst for the launch of great things like Barclay’s Pingit, CommBank’s Pi and more from the likes of Visa, CaixaBank and others.  The innovators are shaking up industries, providing propositions with the customer experience as the champion and I think they are tremendous. Yes, even Wonga (as I have previously written about here and here).  And because of this, I think there may be a genuine reason to judge these types of organisation from a less harsh perspective. They have to do so many things so quickly, fighting so many battles on so many fronts, that we may need to be a bit forgiving if we are to see them thrive.

We all make mistakes. It is not about that. It is this: it does not matter if you are a massive bank with years of history or a start up trying to get to profit as quickly as possible. The essential truth is that it is still about getting customers to buy your stuff. And whoever you are, a business needs to forensically understand what helps this and what stops it.

Given the nature of what I have written about, I suspect some of you with time on your hands may be inclined to look over this post and spot any mistakes from the author. I have tried to ensure they are minimal but I have added at least one (there may be others) deliberately for the sport of it. However, in return, please help me settle the argument by answering the question below:

Please vote and we’ll send you the results (along with the deliberate mistake, if you are interested).

Posted by Ajai Ranawat

Lexden | 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

Customer-centric thinking at its best, we believe

At Lexden, we spend our time on various customer strategy commissions across Europe and occasionally further afield. Whilst we are engaged in a project we are thinking ‘customer first’. But when we are not running a live project we are still thinking ‘customer first’. That’s our business so it keeps us fresh and up to date. The truth is we are always thinking ‘customer first’.

newBy looking at the world this way we sometimes come across brand new propositions which are outstanding. Ideas which are brilliantly simple and simply brilliant.

Often the client isn’t aware that the perfect solution is out there and because the solution provider hasn’t positioned it in a way that it chimes with the clients requirements they don’t see how it’s the right solution.

But we live in two worlds; 1. the client side world thinking about customers and their emotional and rational needs and 2. The consumers world thinking about how brands can make lives better by fulfilling emotional drivers. This means we can see how to connect innovations and product ideas from one market to client needs in another.

We are always hunting down small ideas which have a big impact as per our recent blog. Those which cause the least disruption to a business stand the greatest chance of actually getting to market.

That’s why we’re are rather excited about our latest finding. It’s simplicity is brilliant and it’s potential has stunned us, and that’s not easy.

We’ve come across a NEW customer experience concept that answers so many of the client requirements we come across on assignment. This idea is up there with the best of them and we anticipate it will revolutionise some clients business models. Reassuringly the developer has a global track record of success too.

If you are the CEO, CFO, in customer experience, e-commerce, marketing strategy and planning, customer insight, customer services or brand, you will find this idea really interesting.

You’ll know straight away if it’s something you should look at if you are tackling any of these issues at the moment:


“(1) We need to reduce our call volumes down because our (2) cost to serve is too high (3) our quality of call resolution is impaired or (4) our call waiting times are unacceptable.

“(5) But we need to achieve this and increase our customer satisfaction scores at the same time. Our customers are leaving because they can’t get hold of us”

Beyond this there are a host of further benefits to a business improving its customer strategies it provides…

“(6) When we have unresolved queries from customers we are unable to effectively or efficiently get a resolution back to them meaning that often they remain unresolved even though we have an answer or it costs us heavily to set up a ‘work around’ to contact them and resolve their query”

“(7) We are unable to move between channels as quickly as our customers choose to and we are not able to keep an up to date record of the conversation between channel either which annoys our customers, makes us looks stupid and costs us in duplicated effort time”

“(8) Depending who a customer contacts in our business, through which channel and on which day will determine what answer they get back. It’s this inconsistency that means we end up spending money dealing with ‘over promises’ and ‘under deliver’. We upset customers as we’ve let them down which then impacts CSAT scores and retention rates”

“(9) We’ve got some really good customer service people and some less good ones. If we could bottle the good ones and deliver that experience to customers we would be market leaders, but it’s impossible isn’t it?”

“(10) When we close at the end of the day, there is no way of helping customers beyond what they find on our website. Because we have no ‘night shift equivalent’ we offer to resolve their basic or more complex needs they leave us for our competitors who do. But we haven’t found a cost effective alternative which would be accepted by customers”

“We are looking for more customers to self-serve online to reduce servicing costs but the truth is (11) the experience online isn’t as good as it needs to be at the moment or (12) even if it was great (or on a mobile app) many of our customers would still want to talk to someone to get the answers they can get online. It’s just how they are”

“(13) We are unable to control the quality or the consistency of the way the brand is presented when customers interact with the company. It’s fine when it’s presented in an ad or through a mail pack, but as soon as it becomes ‘personalised’, such as the call centre, it becomes unpredictable and inconsistent”

“(14) Our customer feedback tools are disparate and provide conflicting insights which we have to work through and interpret. (15) Whilst they can inform what the issues are and what is irritating customers they can’t provide planning intelligence such as which products are most effective to cross sell to which segments at which point in the journey or what products are trending with our customers at the moment and why”

“(16) We are in a commoditised service market where brand and experience are the most important driver of relationship, we need an innovative USP that could give us the competitive edge”

“(17) I need to reduce my call centre costs overnight but wont be able to switch off the calls”

If you could relate to more than one of these issues it’s worth taking a look at this solution. But if you are looking to reduce call volumes and improve you customer experience at the same time then bingo – it’s well worth an hour to take a look.

Solutions to these challenges can actually all be delivered through one platform and be operational within a few weeks.

If you know us at Lexden, you will know we are only interested in customer centric solutions that are commercially advantageous to our clients. That’s where we fit in? Lexden have partnered with the innovator to pioneer this new concept into market as an advancement in personalisation, presentation and performance for the customer experience industry.

Sorry but we are not revealing anything more unless we know you are interested. So if you’d like meet up to learn more and how it can relate it to your requirements, email me christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com. Sector exclusive deals will be considered.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business 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 sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ Lexden newsletter.

For more information about how we can help you take your customer strategy forward please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 29 – What the data didn’t tell them

When it comes to understanding what customers want, most organisations defer to the data.  Maybe it’s because there is simply so much of it.  Maybe it’s because it is relatively easy to analyse it and establish patterns.  Maybe it’s because, increasingly, there is so much user generated data about customers themselves that we think sheer volume must be able to tell us the answers.

If only.  The fact is that customer behaviour is nuanced and complex and people make decisions for a myriad of different reasons which cannot be fathomed from a spreadsheet. It is wishful thinking to believe that by simply looking at data we can clearly understand how and why customers behave as they do.  Yes, data can give us patterns and trends and tell us the broad areas to focus on, but it often struggles to provide the granularity which marketers require to develop their solutions.

The best, most customer centric, organisations know this.  At Lexden we have seen Tesco, who have arguably the best customer database in the world and where understanding customers is part of the DNA, complement their gigantic amounts of transactional data with sophisticated qualitative insight to build a more complete picture of their customer segments.

We have to accept that data is only a part of the story of what motivates customers.  It cannot explain everything.  It should not exist in a vacuum and it must be contextualised to make sure that what is being inferred from it is, in fact, correct.  In essence, it requires humanising-the data needs to be put into the real lives, real homes and real conversations of people.  When you do this, you can start generating the type of energizing insights which can lead to more compelling products and more engaging conversations with customers.  And it takes you to some different places, as the following superbly demonstrates.

Continuum is a US design and innovation consultancy, who inherently understands what data can and cannot do.  They know that it is only by really understanding what makes people tick that breakthrough customer insights can be generated.  And from there, products and services which improve people’s lives can be developed.  Below is an anecdote about their engagement with a client in Brazil to develop products for their customer base at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

When they looked at the data: who the customers were, family composition, average incomes and the like, a picture of the potential audience started to emerge.  They then complemented this view with more data about what these customers were doing: for instance, where they were spending their money and what types of existing product they were buying.  They focused on one particular piece of data-these customers were increasingly buying televisions, which historically had not been the case.

But Continuum knew that the data was not telling them the full story.  They knew that, in order to develop engaging products for this group, they had to understand more about the core motivations of these people.  They had to understand about their deeper needs and what truly motivated them.

They knew a lot about these customers but recognised that they did not know these customers.  They knew who they were and what they did but not why they did what they did.  At this point, they understood their customers as excel spreadsheets, pie charts and data points.  They did not understand the customers as people and individuals making (not always rational) decisions in a particular emotional, social and cultural context.

Now, in the absence of attempting to answer the ‘why’, conventional thinking about the data might have led to an obvious, logical next step.  There is a plethora of information and articles describing the increased purchasing power of historically lower income city dwellers in all emerging markets.  Conventional thinking goes that as they have been able to secure better paid jobs, they have started to spend their additional disposable income on more aspirational items like televisions and other technology.  These items are status symbols and a sign of material progression in their lives.  Based on this insight, we can probably all think of the specific marketing and product development activity which could be developed on the back of this insight.

But they did not do this.  Instead they chose to focus on really understanding the ‘why’.  Via direct observation and conversation with these people in their homes, they got to the real motivations of why they were purchasing TVs.  And here’s the thing-it was nothing to do with demonstrating increasing wealth and something to show their neighbours.  It was something deeper and something we can all empathize with, even if we have never set foot in a Brazilian favela.  The neighbourhoods where these people live have high levels of crime and high levels of violence.  Far from a status symbol, parents were buying TVs to protect their children.  If their home, via television, could become a more attractive and entertaining place, then the kids would be less likely to become bored and venture onto the dangerous streets.  Gilt edged customer insight.

The rest was then straightforward.  With this understanding of parents’ deeper motivations, the obvious thing for the client was to reimagine its product away from the parent and design it more to provide engagement with children, with the subsequent positive commercial results.

Data is often described as being king and, indeed, it should be respected.  But it is never God.


Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | Putting your customers at the heart of the decision

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.

Unordinary Thinking No. 26 – Doing it backwards

I don’t think I am being too controversial if I say that London 2012 has captured the imagination of the country.  Sure it helps that Team GB has done so outstandingly well (and not just in the ‘sitting down’ sports) but if you eavesdrop on the conversations going on in offices and bars, it is the way people are talking about sports which they previously had no interest in-the demure girl in my office explaining the intricacies of the boxing scoring system or my mother in law talking about triathlons.

My equivalent is the men’s high jump which I was captivated by last night.  I knew, with their slightly odd, bouncy run ups, that the bars they were clearing were pretty high. However it was only when the commentators explained that the heights these athletes were jumping over were the equivalent of an average house ceiling (take a look up) that it really struck me.

But it was not always this way.  Robert Grabarz, Team GB’s brilliant bronze medal winner, and his fellow competitors have a gangly, courageous, trailblazing American to thank for the heights they can now clear.

In the early sixties in Oregon, Dick Fosbury was a 16 year old high school athlete who was good, but certainly not outstanding at his chosen event of the high jump.  In those days, the status quo method of clearing the bar was known as the ‘straddle’, whereby the competitor cleared the bar by jumping facing forwards and downwards and where slightly shorter, more explosive athletes tended to have success.  With landing areas of sand or sawdust the jumper also needed to land on their feet in order to prevent injury.

Fosbury knew that if he wanted to fulfil his dreams and compete at the highest level he would have to do something different.  He could not effectively co-ordinate the movements needed for the straddle to clear the heights he needed to.  If he carried on doing the same thing everyone else was doing, he would fade into mediocrity.

So he began experimenting with his own technique.  Something which meant he decided to go over backwards when everyone else always went over forward.  Something which went totally against what his coaches had told him and which the leading athletes in the world were using at the time.  Something which leveraged his own skills, physique and attributes.  Something which invited ridicule from those around him, where he was labelled ‘the world’s laziest high jumper’ and like a ‘fish flopping into a boat’.  Something which leveraged the fact that American schools and colleges were starting to use rubber mats, enabling Fosbury to land on his back.  Something which became known as the Fosbury Flop and led to him setting an Olympic record, whilst winning the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics.

The Fosbury Flop is now the established and best technique for all high jump competitors.  But imagine going back to the early sixties where a young Fosbury was being told by established people that it was not possible and that he should keep practising harder on the way it had always been done.  Imagine his bravery, his hard work, his conviction, and the doubts he had to overcome.  It is something to be celebrated.  Just like the Fosbury Flop, many things in our daily lives that are taken for granted now, simply did not exist previously.  It took just one man with some unordinary thinking, using his own skills, and leveraging the latest technology to allow him to do something that was simply not possible before.  Imagine what such thinking could mean for us in our worlds.

I am off to the stadium tonight to watch the athletics.  Lucky me.  What chances that I will be able to say that I was there when Usain Bolt ran his 200m semi-final backwards?

Posted by Ajai Ranawat

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Faster Horses

For businesses and marketers, in theory, it is easy.

Simply ask customers what they want from your products and services, build solutions around these “needs”, deliver them excellently and communicate them effectively. If only.

The problem with this approach is the first part. You can always find customers who are happy to share their views and opinions on what they say they want. This will typically be in some kind of customer research scenario such as questionnaires, conjoint analysis, focus groups or depth interviews.  Although these will be conducted by excellent, experienced research professionals, the bottom line is that customers find it difficult to express what they really want and marketers are not always very good at interpreting this in the right way.

This is never more so than when you are considering new things.There is still no better expression of this than Henry Ford’s comment when asked about inventing the motor car.  He was questioned as to why he did not ask customers what they wanted. His unforgettable response was that it was because they would have simply said that they wanted a faster horse.  And this sentiment holds today-probably even more so given how fast technology is giving us more and more ways to do things.  Customers find it really difficult to envisage and articulate what they might want in the future, especially in areas where there is a strong market conditioning.

So what does this mean for us as marketers? Should the invention and bringing to market of innovative and inspirational new solutions such as an iPod or Kindle be the sole preserve of the super visionaries such as Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos? Of course not. And there are at least two elements which are consistent with their approach which we can emulate.

Firstly, always start with the customer and keep trying to understand in detail what problems can be solved for them. One way to do this might be via formal research. However it is certainly and definitely not the only thing which should be done since it will not give you the answer.  What it is good for is providing additional data to complement your other efforts in understanding the customer, in order to form your own point of view.

Secondly, keep looking out for what other people are doing, the way things are being done in parallel markets and how technology and progress are making customers’ lives better. These are fertile sources for inspiration.

The above is no silver bullet.  It will not give us a fully formed answer and a business plan for our boss.  However, what it does do is give ourselves a fighting chance of developing great solutions for customers. By thinking widely and deeply about how to fit in with customers’ lives, we considerably increase our chances of spotting and seizing opportunities when they arise.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which seeks to arrive at cut-through propositions and solutions for our clients.To do this we look beyond the familar towards the unordinary.

To find out more about what we do and if that might be of interest to you please visit our website lexdengroup.com

Or for more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No.8 – Wheelz

This is a new concept from http://www.Wheelz.com. We feature it because it;s tranferable to countries like England with a simple ‘.co.uk’ adapt.

This American based set up brings together students without cars and those with cars. And through a shared car scheme provides the owner with cash and the student needing a car, with wheels.

This is a great example of an unordinary proposition where ‘a dead asset’ is being made to work harder. This is a trend we have seen in areas of Europe and hope to see more from inspirational entrepreneurs making more out of what they already have. Take 2 minutes to look at the promotional video.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No.7 – Citizen M

The great thing about unordinary thinking is that it rarely is predictable or consistent. So you don’t know when you will encounter genius. However, when you do, you know it.

I stay in a number of hotels each month so am happy to stay in the less conventional business hotels. I find the conventional hotels too automated in their strive for service excellence. I like variety and spontaneity.

So when I was booked in to Citizen M in Glasgow I had no preconceptions.

Although the low £69 a night, including breakfast price tag, did signal a very small alarm bell in my head.

The décor looked modern and attractive. And then I started to observe a few oddities from the normal arrival and settling in experience I go through:

  • There’s no reception,
  • Staff wear black,
  • The building is full of bright Perspex and plastic on the inside but is a black box on the outside.

And when I got to my room it was compact. But when I asked if I could upgrade I was told every room in every hotel is the same. So I returned and hung my clothes in the same space as my bed, my sink, my shower, my TV and my desk. All of which was approximately 2m x 4m x 3m.

But within about 30 minutes of being there I started to get it…

The ‘minimalistic’ approach I had witnessed in the room was reversed in the public space; there were copious numbers of break out lounge areas with Ligne Rosset style furniture, there were shelves of pop art and nude impressionist works, there were eight Macs for business use, blossom trees in the TV area, Earl Grey tea served in silk purses, Café del Mar music and many Alessi practical sculptures scattered across the hotel.

And on taking a closer look at the detail in my room the walk in shower (which was in the room, not off it) had lighting which changed colour, my TV movies were free and there were inspirational messages on all my complimentary toiletries.

And at breakfast not only were Innocent drinks on the menu, but the staff (who also fixed my colleague’s safe, checked us in and helped us set up on the macs earlier) was now the chef and asked us what we thought of her new muffin recipe and should she keep it? We found out everyone is empowered to do everything.

And as I was finding out, their attention to detail was in the areas that really mattered, whilst the places they had compromised (such as big rooms and reception) were actually not important. The only reason I’d decided they were important was because market convention had led me there. Citizen M has decided to change the rules and by doing so has potentially changed the hotel selection criteria.

What they had done here is take a step back from the whole hotel experience and asked ‘what is it that guests really want from a hotel when they are city exploring?’

And they had focussed on making the aspects more important to their clientele the best they can be. Which as the price tag shows, can be more distinctive and more of an experience than the expensive alternative of designing a conventional hotel. Inspirational.

I ended up taking more photographs of this set up than I have of any other hotel I’ve stayed in.

I was so intrigued that I asked a member of staff about the thinking behind it. He explained that empowerment is a key value of the brand.

A brand which they spend a number of days understanding before they are allowed to start in the hotel.

The smart people of Citizen M have applied unordinary thinking too. They’ve achieved so much more by taking a step back and understanding what is really important for a great stay, rather than listening to conventional criteria or attempting to improve on the competition.

By doing so they have designed a hotel which has more of what customers want and less of what they don’t need.

Citizen M contacted me when I first posted this and I am reassured to say my observations and interpretation of their strategy was correct. I did promise them a batch of pics I took (more than I took of the Wynn in Vegas, or the Elms in Worcestershire – personal fav’s), so I will do this.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.