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3½ Customer Experience Lessons from Copenhagen Airport

Airports are busy places with many different stakeholders and very different objectives. In that environment, the end customer can often be marginalised or even forgotten. With frustrations such as being taken on a meandering detour through a retail jungle when you are in search of a departure gate, struggling to understand why it feels like there is only one loo for every 1,000 passengers or having to sprint to meet the person picking you up so they avoid a £50 fine for waiting to greet you for more than 5 minutes.

That said, despite pressures from retailers and regulators, some airports can be places of inspirations with a wealth of Customer Experience ideas for any practitioners to learn from.

#1 Managing your customer’s expectations

Too often brands miss the opportunity to reduce their customer’s anxiety. Explaining what will happen next and when it will happen helps customers. As well as creating an extra engagement point. It also demonstrates a company know how to help customers by improving their emotional state. Which in turn connects the company to it’s customers at a deeper emotional level.

It’s played out brilliantly here. The time it will take to get to the departure gate is blasted to the ground (picture above). The anxious passenger can now assess their situation. With markings updating distance to the gate in time every 30 seconds, they can track their progress. If enough time, the passenger can relax more. If the passenger is short of time, they can speed up. Either way the signpost is helpful and increases appreciation of the airport facilities.

#2 Personalising the experience

I’ll never forget being invited to speak at an Airline conference when a customer aviation expert claimed the future of airline travel was about ‘personalisation’. He then presented several airline ticket, insurance and hotel bundles labelled as propositions such as ‘the weekender’ and ‘family fun’. He boasted that when bought together by passengers they were actually more expensive than the individual parts. But it would be made so complicated that customers wouldn’t be able to work it out! Even worse than this, the audience applauded! I felt very alone sitting on that ‘customer’ panel. It showed how outdated some thinking is in this space.

Customer Experience works when it’s ‘personal’ to a customer’s needs rather than personalised. I feel this example explains it well. At Copenhagen, like many airports, passengers need to pass through the baggage collection section to get to the exit. Those with only hand luggage don’t want to get caught up in there they want to find a way through.

For these passengers they want to get on with their trip sooner. That’s partly why they’ve crammed everything in to their hand luggage. This ‘fast exit’ message decal shouts out to this audience. Personal doesn’t need to be 1 to 1, it’s about being relevant to specific needs.

#3 Keep customers before you lose them

Some sectors are guilty of this more than others. Here’s the scenario; Retail company ‘A’ knows it has a problem with its returns because they receive social media noise reports and get angry calls to the call centre from disgruntled customers. But it’s not tracked in VoC because the VoC vendor hasn’t scoped that journey in their requirements. So, first the additional work is scoped and paid for. Feedback is then collected.  The CX team can then get to work on the issue (maybe after some more mapping). Eventually the team identify it’s down to the poor service contract in place with the outsourced collection courier. But procurement tell the CX team the contract with the courier was a keen one and is locked down for 12 more months. Following which a change can be looked at. 6 months on and the CX team start to work out what’s needed (a new collection courier company) and put together the Requirements Specification for a new vendor selection process. Which they initiate 6 months later. Which is also the first time customers find out about it.

However, in the meantime all the customers have left!

Why not share progress with customers throughout? If you know something’s wrong, flag it earlier. As you start to get an inclination of what’s gone wrong, get on with it. Keep customers updated throughout – tell them you know it’s not working, why it’s not working and that you are doing something about it. Share your plans with on how you will get it right and by when. Offer customers the chance to put in their views to help get to a better place. This involvement demonstrates you care and you are progressive. Customers value this sometimes as much as the fix!

At Copenhagen Airport there is major disruption, but it doesn’t feel like it becuase passengers are brought into the story and shown what’s coming and why. Even if the passenger passing through isn’t around to benefit from the final change they know it’s happening and accepting of the move from ‘AS IS’ to ‘TO BE’.

So that just leave the extra 1/2

For me this is about observation. It’s only half a lesson because it’s an approach rather than an outcome. Customer Experience is all around us. We interact with it daily and are a part of a company’s well worked plans too every time we enquire, purchase, use, enquire, visit or transact. There are lessons to learn from these experiences too.

I didn’t make a b-line for Copenhagen Airport to write a blog on my customer experience observations, I was there to help a client structure a business case for CX investment against return. But whether it’s walking through Copenhagen Airport on the return leg of a work trip, purchasing corner flags online from Sports Direct for a team development workshop (which turn up after they were needed) and getting radio silence when trying to return them or noting how many companies didn’t follow-up having given my details to them at the Grand Designs Show and how well those few that did have done from their attention, opportunities for CX ideas are everywhere.

So, put a Moleskin pocket-book on your birthday list, set you iPhone to camera mode and build your own insight bank of CX ideas and inspiration as you go about your daily business.

In the meantime, feel free to review our blogs, or contact me to raid examples from my much always growing collection of good, bad and ugly examples.

To finish, when it comes to finding new ideas for CX, as Ferris Bueller, the most eligible bachelor of them all, put it…

Happy CX hunting.

Posted by Christopher Brooks.  Director, Lexden Limited, Customer Experience Consultancy.

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

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

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

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

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

Specsavers ‘managing’ operational issues from the front line

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

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

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

Santander saying ‘sorry’ with a scrap of paper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

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

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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.