Tag Archives: john lewis

Highlights from the 2017 Manchester Customer Experience Conference

With over 60 CX events available each year, why did I choose to attend the Customer Experience Conference in Manchester and what did I learn?

With some events, you know what you are going to get. Such as those run by tech vendors, who show case their tech stack as the CX silver bullet. Or the key notes from the ‘professional CX speaker’ circuit, who preach non-practised rhetoric. So, it’s important, considering how much they cost, to find ones which offer fresh content from a broad range of company perspectives I feel.

Why I chose the Manchester CX Conference  

It was this diverse range of promised case studies that initially attracted me to the September CX Event in Manchester. Among others, Virgin Trains, eBay, British Gas, Atom Bank and Leeds Rhinos were on the bill. I knew from this selection I would hear about battles in the board room and fantastic frontline improvements. In addition, I always look for an excuse to visit Manchester which is a firm favourite city of mine. And being a consultant, it was refreshing to see an affordable priced ticket for non-clients.

So, I got up at 4.30am and set off to Manchester with my note book in hand ready to capture some pearls of wisdom. The first speaker was the Head of CX from Virgin Trains, so as I boarded their 6.45am I wondered if I’d arrive on time and in good shape, or would I be raging having endured a miserable trip. VT didn’t let me down. I arrived at the conference hotel in time for coffee and croissants, laid out by the organiser in the middle of the now customary sponsored vendor’s baiting arena!

The hall was full and John Lewis’s Head of Contact Centre Operations kicked off proceedings with exemplary professionalism.

What I learnt at the Manchester CX Conference

We were off with several client presentations following in quick succession. Some were brutally honest and revealing whilst others skimmed over edited highlights. But scattered among the day were several gems which made the day valuable to attend.

eBay, Atom Bank and Virgin Trains presentations stuck in my mind as insightful and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Leeds Rhino’s CX presenters put passion in their pitch.

My five CX take outs from the day were:

  1. Some are losing faith with Net Promoter Score and its unreliable correlation with the commercial drivers of the business. With one highlighting the move to a more accountable ‘behaviour’ measure proving more insightful. That said many are still pegging everything to it
  2. The CX tech stack is still seen as an unwieldly However, some are shunning expensive platforms from gold plated sales reps opting for self-built solutions or using ‘free to use’ cloud based off the shelf set-ups to some effect
  3. Getting the CEO onside to drive CX is still critical. One organisation cited how they used to ignore customers until the new CEO arrived, who is customer obsessed and things have now changed
  4. Artificial Intelligence is proving a distracting for some who have more fundamental improvements to prioritise. The focus appeared to be on cost reduction rather than quality improvements. The issue of digital ethics was also raised in consideration of chat bots. Should companies declare to customers they are trying to kid them into believing they are talking to a human?
  5. Understanding how to engage other stakeholders with conflicting objectives is important to break down silo barriers. Which all agree is essential to move forward with CX.

Overall it was an enjoyable day. I heard passionate people talk, met a couple of interesting practitioners over coffee, caught up with vendors on what client challenges they are facing and heard much from the speakers to reaffirm our own methods and models we provide to clients are still at the front of the pack.

It was a shame Shopping Direct, Barclays, BooHoo and RBS from the originally advertised programme didn’t show. Even without these the organisers managed to run over time!

I got home about 8pm from the 16-hour round trip, making it a tiring day in search of fresh CX insight. The following day we ran an all-day planning session with a new client appointment’s team, so I was glad to have prepped beforehand and grab an early night.

Attending an event is a big commitment, both in terms of time and cost, so it must be worthwhile. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. The reality is it will be when you are in an improvement session or journey mapping months later that you will reach in to the memory banks and pluck out the relevant example you heard from that day at an event, making the value of attending conferences difficult to quantify.

On reflection, I gained.

With over 60 events every year in CX, keeping up with what’s on is hard enough, let alone picking the best ones.  If you want to know what’s on email christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com and I’ll email you the FREE listing of 2017 Global CX Conference and Event we’ve compiled to help others.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director of Lexden, Customer Experience Consultants.

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. 

What is your favourite Christmas Ad of 2016?

The Christmas season is in full swing now all the major brands have served us their 2016 Christmas ad specials.

According to the Mirror and the Metro’s reader polls, Sainsbury’s ‘Mog’ appealed more than any other ad last year. But which will be your favourite be this year?

Vote below and see how your views compare with others. Another mince pie anyone?



Enjoy the vote. Enjoy the ads. Enjoy Christmas 2016.

And then bring on 2017, when we expect to see an even greater ROI expectation from your Customer Experience endeavours.

If you need support in any area of CX in 2017, please get in contact.

We will listen to your challenge, explain how we’ve helped others and share how we will be able to help you as we have done so for clients such as The Co-operative Bank, Visa, UCL, Syngenta and Ladbrokes in 2016.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Christopher Brooks | Lexden Customer Experience Consultants | The Courtyard | Wind Hill | Bishops Stortford | Herts | CM23 2ND | 01279 902205


Black Friday; a confusing customer experience

Bar humbug – the cost of Black Friday on sustainable profit from customer experience.

So Black Friday 2 came and went without YouTube videos of bun fights over discounted flat screens or Asda and Tesco staff fearing for their safety as iron boards are wrestled over. As it passed relatively unnoticed, I wondered who actually benefits from this rather distasteful annual event?

Black Friday03

Do the increased short term blip of sales stack up against longer term brand reputation impact for instance? The British Retail Consortium reported a drop of 0.4% sales on 2014 so it’s not delivering on sales it would seem. For many shoppers, stores didn’t drop prices as low as had been apparently expected. Online sales did go up. Is this because the fear of having to confront a hardened Black Friday’ bargain hunter type has put the rest of us off the high street. A sort of retail ‘no go zone’. Instead we, and perhaps even the bargain hunters have retreated to the safety of the online bargain battle zone where physical confrontation has been replaced by clicking frenzied spells?

The worry is, will these shoppers now stay away more often citing Black Friday bruising’s as a reason to abandon the high street more often, or altogether? Will this be an unintended consequence for retailers perhaps? These being the very same environments where the majority of the magic of their customer experience comes alive the rest of the year.

I passed a series of Black Friday shop window displays, in a cab. The cabbie said to me, they should call it ‘because we rip you off the rest of the year sale’. He felt if prices were that cheap and they made a profit, retailers were taking customers for a proverbial ride. Has consumer confidence, trust and appeal for some been damaged a deal too far? According to a research poll of one in that taxi, the answer was yes! I only hope the ‘quick BF buck’ was worth it considering the long term relationship damage it could cause.

Does Black Friday destroys long-term brand equity?

I’m quite a conventional shopper when it comes to Christmas with most of it completed in December in a few favoured stores, notably M&S and John Lewis. Often I take in the hussle and bustle of Oxford Street as part of my Christmas shopping experience.

I find Black Friday a fuss too early and a risk of probable compromise on the customer experience I’ve grown to value from my trusted stores. I value them for service not sales, but fear if they have decided to prioritise sales over service by participating in Black Friday my experience will be diminished.Black Friday01

Here’s an example of what I mean.  2015 campaign Black Friday signage was sprayed across our local M&S turning its facia in to something which resembled a looted shop! When is that ever going to be a good look? Where did the inspiration come from for that window dressing – the Croydon riots! That’s a connection I never thought I’d make with M&S – but it’s what Black Friday does to us conventional consumers.

As I write this I realise I haven’t been to either of these stores for my Christmas shopping as much as I have in previous years. Their engagement has potentially impacted my consideration. So the successful brand investment made over several years to gain my loyalty has been unpicked. I believe Black Friday has damaged my preference for these and other retailers who think it’s okay to cheapen themselves at this time and expect me to forgive them. I’m sure I will get past it, but I wont forget.

Black Friday is a ‘promotional platform’ which retailers interpret to suit their own performance strategies, like January sales only grubbier. It’s certainly not the kick-start to Christmas some report it as. It also can’t be owned – unlike the brand reputation and customer experience brands who normally avoid ‘sales sensations’ avoid (which I personally value much more). Hopefully JLP and M&S to place their marketing budget next November.

Mad Bad Friday

There are also some interesting/odd takes on the BF promotion – The 99p Store use it to sell products which cost a few pound more and Starbucks confusingly combining BF with BOGOF.

Also whilst Friday has always been a day long in my mind, M&S has extended the time paradigm to a weekend whilst Dorothy Perkins managed a week long Friday!

I’m sure these promotions are not aimed at me, so I should pipe down, but it certainly has made me think twice about something I previously certain of – my preferred retailers.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

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

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

My Christmas 2013 ‘Customer Experience’ Crackers

Like many I decided to switch off and enjoy the recent Christmas festivities with my family and left my work behind. Those who know me will know that whilst a worthy ambition, it’s usually compromised. However, this year I did it!

I spent two weeks with the family. But what that meant is that I also spent two weeks as a consumer, without my Lexden Customer Experience Strategist hat on.


As a consumer I found dozens of interactions which made me feel warmer or colder towards the brands I engaged with and subsequently more or less likely to use them again. So whilst I wasn’t strictly working, I did capture a few of the best and worst experiences (see also My Christmas 2013 ‘Customer Experience’ Turkeys blog) to provide you with inspiration and ideas for your own CX programmes.

Here’s my three favourite Christmas Crackers delivering the gift of a great branded experience which will live on long after the decorations have come down. Loving…

myringgo2MyRingGo | My wife, my two young boys and I planned a trip to see the Snowman at the Peacock theatre. Travelling in on the train we arrived at the station car park. We realised we had no change! Ahhhh. Then I noticed a sticker on the car park machine offering a phone service to buy a ticket. With a low level of faith in customer friendly mobile payments from experience, I was sceptical. But hat’s off to MyRingGo. I called and within two minutes the automated service had texted me confirmation that my parking ticket had been purchased. All for a supplement of just 20p on the ticket. The message also told me it would take just 30 seconds next time now they have my details (ensuring a repeat purchase).

But the real magic came when 10 minutes before the ticket expired I received a reminder and options to extend the ticket. Having been caught out before by traffic wardens, this was a revelation – a real customer advantage of the mobile over cash.

jlpJohn Lewis | Like most I could default to John Lewis to buy all Christmas goods, including alarm clocks, bears and hares. At the Bluewater shopping centre store John Lewis had managed to spill the TV ad out across the store. With a looping Lily Allen version of a Keane track and TV screens playing the ad it couldn’t be missed. And surprisingly not that nauseating. We then came across a wonderful experiential version of the ad in the store. The children out shopping with their parents were captivated, almost as much as the parents were!

premier innPremier Inn | We travelled to Staffordshire to see family and found the most convenient hotel was the Premier Inn. Given the low price I set my expectations low. But that was unnecessary, it was just fine. The most impressive proposition was a ‘silent please’ family ground floor. As a family we were put on this floor and asked to ‘Shhhhh’ between 7pm and 10am. Having stayed in hotels when our children were babies and been woken by guests not unreasonably chatting in the corridors at not unreasonable times, this idea is helpful when settling children for the night.

But it was the lovely touch of an extra spy hole for children on the door which I felt added fun to the experience. It was something for the kids which proved a great novelty.

A great and relatively low cost addition to reinforce the ‘family floor’ proposition.

These brands have created a positive association (which could lead to incremental spend) with me their customer. The John Lewis example demonstrating how to optimise the value of your traditional TV advertising, and Premier Inn highlighting how a well thought through integrated proposition works.

It would be good to think all brands are pushing forward in this way. But I have also written a blog on ‘My Christmas 2013 Customer Experience Turkeys’ suggesting some have quite a way to go!

We collect customer experience examples. If you’ve come across any which have amazed or impressed you, please forward them to me at christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com. We will periodically post and link them to you and your company.

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 sign-up to our free 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 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

The Best of a Marketer’s Diary: Jubilee Special

With three union jack waving events back-to-back in the form of the Queens Jubilee, Euro 2012 (more George Cross, than UJ granted) and the Olympics, there’s many streets in Britain that will have bunting up for three months or more this year. With this epic Britishness window comes a flood of marketing activation and communications leveraging the opportunity too.

There wont have been a marketing exec meeting in the land this spring which hasn’t had the, “how can we exploit, I mean celebrate, these occasions?” question posed. And for some this has resulted in effortless and well connecting communications. Whilst other brands have brought us what looks more like lipstick on a pig, or perhaps a corgi is a more fitting reference for the occasion.

Here are a selection of our favourite finds. Please add your own in the comments box below.

First Prize

There weren’t enough pun executions for my liking in the Jubilee advertising season. Rarely is it acceptable, but this is one time when a big slab of British cheese is exactly right. Great work from Buxton Water on this front. And when you get in to the detail of it you see it’s a more interesting proposition linked to an elegant party at the Eden project. Although I found the online experience to find the party details a tad more difficult than I hoped. But perhaps like sunshine on a flotilla parade, getting everything perfect is a bit too much to expect.

Best in class

Pret used the opportunity to do their bit for the streets of London, and I assume the nation. They captured one of the unwritten benefits of a national event; the chance to get your best jacket or frock out and feel good for a day or two. Of course John Lewis got in on the action too, but not with as much of a M&S ‘coronation chicken special’ or Sainsbury’s ‘ham & mustard 2012’ flavour. Just gentle bunting shots, picnic promotions and relevant partner tie ups.

Slap a ‘jack on it’ 

So who hasn’t used the union jack this season? But these two for me personify the, ‘Why not – we’ve got nothing to add, but nothing to lose!’ approach used too often. The first example is from Vaseline and the world of lip balm and the second from the more niche customised radiator market (from The Design Show – exhibitor not captured). And if it’s stretched to these two lesser spotted sectors, you know it’s rife in almost every other!

Retail Royalty

There have been some fantastic explosions of patriotism in retail windows this season. Something the online players have failed to be capture as well. I spent an afternoon in Winchester over the Jubilee weekend and was amazed at the quality of the independent traders efforts. But from a national chain perspective there were a few which caught my eye again and again. Charles Tyrwhitt and Cath Kidston both got the window dressers to create original themes which also pushed product. And every time I walked by them I felt justifiably ‘jubileed’.


Finally there are those who majored in ‘Shouty man’ at advertising school, with a minor in ‘How to bring the tone of any occasion down’. Venture photography and the pro’s Paddy Power didn’t disappoint with their ‘Laughing Liz’ creations. Paddy Power also took ‘integration’ to a new level by blending the Jubilee with the Euro tournament in one execution. Talk about stretching the marketing budget that little bit further! Hideous? Possibly. Hilarious? Absolutely.

So there we have it. Of course many more took part. In fact it would be easier to count the brands that didn’t. But these examples above others caught the Marketer’s Diarists attention. Do let us know if you feel you have worthy winners for any of the categories, or indeed categories of your own for us to add.

In due course we will also bring you our Euro 2012 and Olympics 2012 reports too.

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 orajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.