Tag Archives: lexden thinking

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the bargain hunters have retreated to the safety of the online bargain battle zone where physical confrontation has been replaced by clicking frenzied spells?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

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5 customer experience examples from the automotive sector

The great thing about working on customer experience mentoring and programme management is  how transferable ideas and initiatives are across different sectors. Customer is a constant regardless of sector so ideas transfer and inspiration can be taken from other sectors. It’s quite unique in that way. Clients are keen to see examples from other sectors to help stretch the thinking within their own.

With that in mind, here are 5 examples of customer experience initiatives from the automotive industry. So if it’s your sector; hopefully you can take direct lessons from these. And if you are in a different sector, let them inspire your lateral thinking.

Ownership drives customer- centric approach at JaguarJaguar

JLR asked Engine Service Design to help them design the customer experience around the purchase and, critically, the ownership of the C-X75. Engine explored a range of complex needs around ownership and driving experiences to develop the customer experience. Engine translated the insights into a set of principles and service personality to guide both the C-X75 experience and also the wider JLR experience.

Meet the BMW CX geniuses 

“The dealership experience is as old as the car industry, roughly one hundred years old. While cars have changed, the retail experience is much the same as it was one hundred years ago,” says Dr. Ian Robertson who oversees global sales and marketing for BMW.BMW

BMW leaders studied brands outside of the car industry to create BMW’s “future retail strategy.” According to Robertson it led to “a complete redevelopment of BMW’s digital world, the physical experience at the dealership, and how our people interact with customers in the sales process.” With an obvious nod to the Apple Store, BMW decided to create a new role in its dealerships—the product genius. The BMW product genius is a non-commissioned expert who will spend as long as it takes to educate car shoppers about their choices. “The product genius is not encumbered by the sale process and is not motivated to sell a car,” Robertson responded. “His motivation is customer satisfaction.”

BMW has already recruited about 900 people for its product genius positions and will hire a total of 2,000 over the next 12 months. The dealerships will also offer a seamless multi-channel transition from the digital store to the physical one. Robertson made an observation that applies to most business ventures in today’s digital economy: “What we have done in the past is definitely, definitely, definitely, not good enough for the future.”

Employee engagement to drive customer experience improvements at Lookers

lookersLookers recognises that a motivated and satisfied workforce lies at the heart of its success. It enhances its ‘Customers for Life’ company strapline and ethos. It revolves around Lookers NICER values: Nice, Informative, Caring, Enthusiastic and Responsive (driven by customer relationship drivers).

Paul Bentley, Director of CX said, “It’s that simple really. Happy staff makes for happy customers. The customer experience is the ultimate differentiator in the modern car retailing business and we are keen to make sure we deliver the best there is”. Areas of improvement targeted include customer and staff engagement, where regular appraisals, customer and staff surveys and improved internal communication are made a priority through regular analysis and measurement.

Audi uses customer experience to turn satisfaction scores around

audiAudi’s 2020 vision is to leave customer’s delighted. But 21st out of 23 in the International Aftersales Customer Satisfaction (IACS) rankings meant they had work to do. service issues and poor comms drove Audi customers elsewhere. A ‘Driven to Delight’ programme reached out to all 132 Audi centres from valet to sales translating ‘delight’ into behaviours.

A mobile entertainment unit took a roadshow taking everyone on the journey towards ‘delighting’. Starting with negative customers and finishing with a premium customer experience showroom once customers were turned into more loyal and profitable fans from receiving a better customer experience.

Where customers were satisfied was the foundation built on. But using a ‘Total Reality’ the appointed Brand Biology consultants worked with staff to figure out improvements. Staff bought in and committed to deliver improvements. The following years IACS results ranked Audi eleven places higher at 10th.

A differentiated customer experience the Mercedes Benz way

mercAfter sales is key for premium car sales. External market forces have levelled the playing field with the independents stealing share on price. Mercedes Benz looked to differentiate their offer.

Time was spent with dealers and customers to understand what great looked like when it came to after sales. Competitors that were praised were mystery shopped too. all insights were mapped across an organising vision. A suite of end-to-end concepts and experience enablers were tested using desktop versions to full scale prototypes. Five service principles were arrived at and MyMercedesBenz after-sales vision was born. Which features several core propositions such as My service booking apps.

Workshops were used to drive staff engagement. And a pilot was developed wit every aspect of the experience; comms, behaviours , interactions with 3rd parties and environment revised to align to the visions.

Satisfaction rating rose by 50%. Retail visits jumped to 8.1% against national decline of 3.1%. Average spend up £18. MyMercedesBenz has rolled out to 25 regions with 25 more and collected a host of prestigious industry awards.

I hope these have been of interest to you, whatever sector you are involved in.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

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.

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