Tag Archives: london

Metro Bank get it right, winning ‘Customer Service Training Programme of the Year’ at the Digital Experience Awards, 2015

Always a pleasure to be judging a category where teams are so proud of their work.  This was definitely the case this year with the Financial Services Customer Services Training Programme of the year.  The very worthy winner was Metro Bank for their innovative and infectious induction programme.  So many businesses can learn from the way they really excite their new recruits into turning up for the first day!  However, I do have to say that it is easier for a shiny new challenger brand like Metro to do everything right – no legacy, no cynicism and no built up problems. They are growing at their own pace for the sake of their brand and customers.  So a lovely clean sheet to start from –  I genuinely hope that it is always so wonderful and exciting to start your career there!

This is why I do have to give a quick shout out to the other contenders in this category as they were dealing with very real and difficult challenges with their training – challenges that only really come from brands which have been around a while and need to make some real changes.  Whilst not ground breaking for this category they were certainly very innovative in their own businesses and hopefully for their customers – the most important thing right?

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For further information on how we can help with your customer experience 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.

Are your office buddies freaks?

We recently held our Christmas party. Those who know us would know we love the opportunity to present the logic of unordinary thinking versus conventional wisdom which would go some way to explaining Christmas in February. But on this occasion, it was simply a result of prioritised client engagements and a bout of man flu which kept our Christmas party 60 days apart from the norm.

And so, to the occasion – we are in a vibrant office space in Great Titchfield Street, W1. We share our space with three other companies. Surrounded by the biggest names in fashion, TV and advertising, it’s a rich and colourful palette to pull from when developing strategies for brands.

Whilst there’s much inspiration to pull from outside the office, I realised we’d never stopped to see what ideas were being cooking up amongst the companies we live with. So at the Christmas (okay February) party, we asked them to pitch their business and best ideas to us so we could get to know them better. And secretly I wanted to know if they were geek, chic or freaks.

They proved to be part chic, part geek (in an endearing passionate about their business way) and apart from a disturbing walnut whip thieving streak, no part freak.

We discovered TV making, musical talent promotion and search engine beautification (I will explain) were the preoccupation of the brands riding alongside Lexden. Each with their distinct style of offer.

Meet 40 Partners

40 partners logoFirst up was the film and TV makers 40 Partners. On behalf of the partners, Emma explained the concept as this…40 handpicked creative and technical partners from the world of film and TV programme making have come together to create ground breaking and exciting new  formats for TV.

The partners include film makers, directors, actors, producers, writers etc. They share ideas, they share the development of ideas into content and ultimately they share the fame and the fortune that follows commissions. It has meant they’ve got a crazy and innovative number of programme ideas they are working through and a really bright bunch of talent who want to tread an alternative path to TV commissions.

We also learnt that unlike our industry where giving ideas away is seen as helpful and demonstrates an endless well of ideas (as a lovely client once said to me, “if you are prepared to give that idea away, I can’t wait to see what you come up with when you are on the payroll”), in their world ideas are as precious as an NPS Promoter is to a rail company. They did tell us a couple of ideas, but we are sworn to secrecy. Our only challenge to their model was how they get all 40 partners on stage when they collect their first industry gong!


Meet RareCollective


Charles is a man about musicality town. He’s been involved with plenty of big bands and big music projects working for others. He’s now set up on his own bringing music, events and brands together. Having had success working with ad agencies as a resident creative director of music on their client’s briefs, he is now building his own content and events calendar.

He’s looking to push managed talent, such as the Blue Jays (one to watch) and create new events, such as night golf networking (a bit harder to watch). As mad as it sounds, that seems to be Charlie’s line of work, making ideas that shouldn’t work.

He gets his ideas from his trips to see bands and music agents across the world and restyles them into his own unique mould.  So if you see an event you think, that’s odd, but the music was great – check out who is behind it, it might well be Charlie and the musicality factory.


Meet Zenigo

zenigoI’ve left Zenigo until last because, they shared their idea last, they start with a ‘z’ and if I’m honest I’m still not sure I get it. But given the speed at which they are growing, their audience clearly does. But that’s okay, I’m not their audience.

So here goes explaining the offer. Zenigo show retailers what damage to their reputation is being caused when the social media sites present them from an image perspective. Why is that important? Let’s say I take a pic of my local Leon outlet because I like the logo design. But it might be blurred, shaky and show a knocked over coffee on the floor in the background. However, its location tracked. Now given my huge Twitter, Instagram and Facebook following (I’m lying) it means it comes up in the search for others looking at Leon. So they see my grubby snap first. Not good for Leon. So Zenigo arrange for better pics and greater priority in social media rankings with these improved images. Their customers sign up for an annual licence and receive reports showing the improved results on SEO.

Everyone is happy; assuming this is a criterion that impacts consumer’s consideration and preference. With retailers from here to France signing perhaps they are clearly onto something. I think it would also be a great ‘additional’ service for companies who focus on improving business for retailers such as payment providers, SEO companies and others to add to their own offers as well.


It was an insightful session and we learnt about three completely different business models at play with 20 metres of our desks. From them we will no doubt take a few ideas and store them to retrieve one day as part of another idea for someone else’s challenge.

So whilst it was a Christmas party, we also learnt new, interesting and entertaining stuff too. Freaky!

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 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris .

Unordinary Thinking No.39: Finding a Fix for the Forces Finances

I was recently chairing a session at the CrossMedia 2013 conference at London’s Design Centre. The main attraction on my watch was a case study from thereadingroom, the digital activation agency. The case in question was for Moneyforce, a financial education website aimed at helping members of the armed forces personnel improve their financial literacy.

Having read the presentation in advance I was impressed with what had been achieved. The site had been developed to help members of the armed forces personnel become better equipped with money management. Unlike most, given the nature of their employment, the armed forces find themselves between not needing that much money for themselves when on active duty to having a few thousands pounds in their account when they are on leave which then needs to last for the period of the leave, and beyond for their dependents when they return to active duty. Those who don’t manage this situation well often suffer from stress.


Most financial advice served up to this audience isn’t tailored. Given the size of this diverse group with different levels of attainment and experience, mass financial brands can’t sustain specificity of focus.

But this dedicated site is built around armed forces segment personas which enables visitors to recognise themselves and their financial behavior. This gives the visitor confidence in the advice that is provided, so they are more inclined to follow it through.

The MOD had identified that the number one cause of non-military stress is finances and financial education is often blamed. They needed to do something about it. http://www.moneyforce.org.uk is the result. It seems pretty simple when put like that. But it was only when I met with speaker Jamie Griffiths, Divisional Head at Readingroom beforehand did I fully appreciate just how unordinary an outcome like this being achieved really is.

Whilst the problem was identified by the MOD, it would be fair to say that a detailed ‘customer segment’ solution would not be an approach they have the capacity or funds to achieve given the stretch on budgets and the myriad of other military related challenges on the MOD’s agenda. But that’s exactly what has been achieved.

So how did the ‘top down’ brief end up with detailed customer-centric approach?
The MOD couldn’t achieve this on their own. It was only when an ex-employee started work with Standard Life did they become aware of the CSR focus of the life and protection giant. Funds are built up from policies which have matured but a recipient can not be traced. Standard Life directs these funds towards projects which make a positive impact on society. Recognising the impact of ‘personalised’ financial advice versus a broadcast message, they agreed to fund a more committed approach.


With this backing, it led to the inclusion of The Royal British Legion who specialise in providing financial assistance and support to the armed forces and are always looking at ways to cost effectively reach their audiences. So they had the content as well as the ear of appropriate supporters such as Dame Kelly Holmes.Readingrooms were the last piece of the jigsaw. Their digital specialty is online user experience. So they spent time with military personnel understanding their specific circumstances and with the RBL matching this to the right advice. This got them to the point of developing several personas, enough for anyone in the armed forces to relate to. Being specialists in experience they also recognised the subtleties of colour choice for a sight which would be aimed at the RAF, Navy and Army alike.So the personas matched the targeted content, providing a specific and relevant content experience for the user and their unique circumstance.

This to me is a great example of a strategic partnership where every party has a differing agenda, which independently they will achieve in an adequate, but probably unsatisfying way. But when they come together they achieve so much more which they can all be proud of and exceeds their individual expectations. And it is this collaboration which is unordinary in its concept and brilliant in its execution.

The evidence of the performance is in the stats Readingroom shared on the day of the event.

More impressive is the type of feedback achieved from site visitors. which demonstrates it’s adding real value to those lives it was intended to make better:

“The information is aimed at young people who perhaps haven’t had a proper wage before. I fall into that category” – Infantry soldier

“I think the information is engaging using real life examples made the issue of personal finance reflective” – Armed welfare officer

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.

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

Two cod cubes; the margin between success and failure in customer experience

My world is customer strategy. I help brands ensure they understand what makes their customers tick, how to ensure their customer experience is right and develop propositions which resonate with their customers for the right reasons.

As anyone in the customer experience space knows, the energy and effort is often in improving the operational capabilities and marketing communications. These are controllable factors which can be managed and the value of improvement correlated to overall success.


However, there is a more influential dynamic which will either support changes required or hinder it depending on two factors:

1. How deep-rooted customer-centricity is across all layers of the business

2. The alignment of the Employee Experience to the desired Customer Experience

Policy before people at Wagamama

And it is with these two points I refer with my recent experience of Wagamama. Until now, I’ve been a fan. In fact, my wife and I have spent as much time in Wagamama restaurants as any other chain. Whilst we knew they had a children’s menu we’d commented before that they didn’t seem to really get what a dining experience for children should be. But whilst up in London for a trip to The Shard, we decided we would introduce our children to the experience anyway.  

After our 72 floor viewing experience we walked along the Southbank and found Wagamama as planned (I’d looked on-line the previous day and checked a few things over again such as location and children’s menu). We settled in and ordered our meals. Our two and a half-year old can be contrary so we ordered him a chicken rice dish which we knew he would like, but of course as soon as his brother’s cod cube and rice dish arrived, he wanted that instead. Our fault for not ordering the same I accept.

So we asked the waitress,would it be at all possible to have one or two extra cod cubes to put in his dish to satisfy his envy. The waitress grimaced at the request and said she would have to check with the manager to see what the policy was. I was a little astounded to find there was a policy making department at Wagamama’s who would gather council to draw up service level agreements for such requests! But if policy it be, policy must be checked I thought. Confident of the outcome we carried on eating.

cod cubes 2

Why didn’t our other son offer his cubes up? Well he did. But as anyone who ever remembers what being a young child is like, that’s never going to be a satisfactory alternative.

We decided to order another full meal for our son. But then as we chatted with the two neighbouring families they convinced us that we shouldn’t have to do that. So instead we cancelled it and decided not to have desserts either. And the family by us said they doubted they’d come back because it highlighted to them Wagamama doesn’t really do families.

Perhaps to give away cod cubes here and there does hit the bottom line too hard. If so my blog is floored, but thinking about the long game there was a lot of ‘conversation’ and subsequent ‘WoM’ because of this and not for the things Wagamama would want to be remembered for. So as a collective of three families I’d guess our NPS sat around 70 and 80 before the experience. But after cod cube-gate Wagamama managed to take our score down to around minus 30 (school of guesstimate). For what, perhaps 10p profit? And if anyone tells me that Wagamama did give them a little extra for nothing, it would only make this experience worse.

The gold medal goes to Leeds Castle

Rewind three days and we had a family trip to Leeds Castle. We went to the restaurant for lunch. It was a hot plate buffet/carvery type arrangement and someone greeted us on the door to explain this which was helpful. The waitress showed us the children’s menu which looked great. We explained our two-year old (there is a theme here) probably wouldn’t eat a whole child’s portion. The waitress said she would make us up a half child’s portion and ask the lady on the till to put it through as two bread and butters as that would be about half the cost. Bingo – easy.  

leeds castle

They also offered us a wet day pass which meant for the price we paid we could return anytime for free because it was raining. A great initiative we weren’t expecting but we will undoubtedly return now and almost certainly eat in the restaurant and spend in the gift shop again. That’s thinking about the long game and mitigating for what they can’t control (the weather) because it impacts your brand’s customer experience.

I think I’d have normally shrugged the Wagamama experience off. But because the entire table felt it was a petty policy and because a few days earlier we had a very different positive experience at Leeds Castle, it stuck. That’s all it takes to lose a customer.

As a customer experience consultant it also reaffirmed to me the challenges brands have in ensuring the investment into operational excellence and communication cut-through isn’t wasted. Unless the employees understand what ‘putting customers at the heart of the business’ means, everything else won’t work.

Leeds Castle 5 Wagamama 0

Posted by Christopher Brooks

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

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

Who we work with…clients mar 2013

Creating brilliant ideas is in all of us

If your position requires you to be creative, you are blessed. It’s a privilege to be encouraged to suspend what you know and create what doesn’t exist. I am fortunate to count myself as one of those who spends time each week creating.

My creative bias is marketing strategy, but I think my point holds for most genres of the artistic science. But it’s not an exclusive club. We are all gifted with ability to create, given the right ingredients.

#1 Take from your own creative palette

Once you’ve got a brief (focused permission) you need a palette of reference. This is personal and it’s different for us all. For some it’s Ian Dury, a passion for designer shoes, an obsession with the Four Tops, the last year of lectures at university or even the pop culture consumed over the weekend. All have been quoted back to me as inspiration behind an idea.

Of course our sources and memories are vast, unstructured, badly organised and blurred over time which makes it the greatest library for creativity available to us – so use it.

The reason being that as Paul Arden sort of puts it, ‘it does not matter where you take ideas from, it’s where you take them to which matters.’

#2 Building your own ideas labyrinth

I have ways to structure ideas, and techniques to hold thoughts and return to them and add small advancement weeks later.  They have taken years of refining by listening to others approaches and forming my own archaic but ultimately successful network in my mind. As a consequence they are messy and probably only effective for me.

#3 Finding your own creative workshop

But there is one aspect which I believe can be replicated by all and that’s the creative space. You never hear a rock star saying I wrote the hit whilst sat at my desk. Unless you apply a regimental Roald Dahl like approach to creating ideas (yellow pencils, yellow paper, white writing shed, red tin of sweets, green sleeping bag etc) I suggest finding a variety of places which encourage your creativity. Find places which trigger ideas by their significance or by highlighting your own insignificance. Either way they inspire me to arrive at new outcomes I hadn’t reached before I spent time there. Below are three of my favourite. I like to think of them as my creative workshops.

The British Museum workshop

I recently met with a friend in the cafe and we came up with an idea which could change his life and possibly a way in which an established part of his industry works. It’s the height here. You sit with one hundred and fifty feet of headspace. And all areas are shared so you get a buzz all the time from the lives others are living around you. And whilst all around are consuming we are creating. Contributing to the future. NB. Bring some change as the cafe doesn’t take plastic for less than £5.

The Building Centre (Store Street) workshop

When you walk in you are welcomed by a 3D model of London’s landscape including those planned developments. You can trace your route to work and figure out in miniature how much of London’s footprint you actually cover. I’d suggest unless you are a town planner, cabbie or a tourist it’s probably not very much.

Move around the centre and you will find 3D photocopiers, new material exhibitions and stories about the impact of commercial and residential developments in London.

You feel like you are getting the ‘inside’ story on the city, which is empowering. You start to see something you know very well from a new perspective. Bingo. This is exactly why it provides such a fabulous new canvas for creativity. There are many break out areas and a decent cafe too.

Edinburgh Castle view workshop (Princes Street)

High above Princes Street in Edinburgh is the Debenhams Cafe which, with its convex windows, has a ceiling to floor view over Princes Street Gardens and up towards Edinburgh Castle. Take lunch at 1pm and you can even hear the roar of the ceremonial cannon. It’s never occupied by anyone except shoppers so you can lose yourself in thought and vista. The clash of timeless significance and throw away everyday retail make it a heady cocktail.

It’s the sort of view of the castle many are looking for, but it’s not the sort of place you’d think to come to get it so you can get lost in your thought. Admittedly the windows need a clearer Perspex solution, but the view has always fuelled my imagination.

Obviously, we are all gifted with the ability to create ideas. We do it everyday. If it’s your job you’d hope you are better at it than others. But if you can create the right environment, it’s interesting to see what you can achieve.

So if you want to be creative, you need do nothing more than get off your backside and take a walk. It’s free and it frees the mind. And who knows the rest might just come to you.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which achieves cut-through propositions 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 contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.