Tag Archives: Marketing

Advertising. Is it worth the paper it’s printed on anymore?

Last week I travelled on the tube and was confronted in the same carriage with three soulless executions advertising Apps.

Having been a brand and comms planner in an agency I know the client brief can sometimes be slightly thin on the ground. However, that’s when the opportunity lies to test your strength in teasing out the killer insight that will connect the brand and its differentiated offer with what yearns to be fulfilled in its chosen audience.

Having also worked with some great creatives I know that even when that insight appears quite generic or stretched, it’s still possible to light a touch-paper of excitement in the audience by resonating with them through common ground of interest through brilliant creative.

So why is that much of the App service advertising I see fails to shine? Apps are the new ‘must visit’ retailer, the new ‘must have’ manufactured product, the new ‘must experience’ destination. Having transcended to Customer Experience Consultancy to embed brand across engagement touch points, I enviously look at these little pockets of technological potential and think wow; what an opportunity. If I was 15 years younger and these NewCo briefs were landing on my planning desk I’d feel like I bagged the John Lewis Christmas campaign brief! So why is it the communications out there promoting modern Apps often seems to be amongst the least engaging?

Getting back to the examples presented to me on the tube, they’d managed to underline this mediocrity by sharing the same execution technique; ‘the play on words’ to attempt to promote their distinction and usefulness – I say ‘attempt’ because their value as brand were lost on me.

When apps were still in napp(ie)s I can recall a conversation with a creative team who suggested to turn to ‘play on words’ as a communication solution was only acceptable when every other method including applying the mirror of self-reflection and handing your notice in had been tried.

So have my troublesome three simply slipped through the ‘take pride in what you deliver’ creative sign-off process, or are they really the result of something much better that I’m just missing? For me, they brilliantly demonstrate a lack of connection with their audience, no promise to fulfil unmet needs or differentiate from others in achieving this. In fact, the energy burnt out before the message does.

pun ad 2I recognise the ‘Just Eat’ campaign which lives on TV too and is made up of only play on words of songs (not that I have worked out this one yet). I feel it begs the question, ‘what are you’. I quite like the ‘chicken madras’ reference and razzmatazz on TV, but I quite like the new series of Robot Wars as well – it’s not enough. I know Just Eat is a take away service, I’ve seen decals everywhere, but that’s it. I don’t get any sense of advantage conveyed through these messages, hence I’ve failed to even consider them when ordering take away.

pun ad 3I can’t quite work out from my pic this company or what they are promoting – never good for mass media ad space. But to choose the word ‘App’ in their play on words execution means I am left guessing it’s either something to do with checkered shirts, or one of the other tens of thousand Apps providing some form of retail or travel advantage. Either way it’s too late, my attention is diverted to another ad.

The third example does actually manage to tie the play on words in to the proposition regarding saving time choosing what to cook. I say that, the words scan at least. That said the Lionel Richie song has no relationship with this proposition of saving time, so it’s 100% superficial.

pun ad 1

I start to think that a bit like the explosion of soft toys give away from all comparison site following the success of Sergei and Compare the Meerkat, do we have another spate of ‘copycat’ Just Eat executions here?

The interesting thing each one of those ads has had hours poured into it to devise an idea, talent applied to produce it, consideration and agreement to approve it, not to mention a slice of some investor’s commitment or chunk from the company profit put behind it to get it on the tube wall.

Ipun ad 4f you are thinking you quite like play on word ads, then I accept there are some great examples such as FCUK. There is also this stunning example, crafted without the benefit of a comms agency shows how to connect with your audience as well as fulfil unmet needs (beyond the repair).

As App companies grow up the will see the need to connect with customers, to retain their attention they will need to promise betterment in a meaningful way their audience can process and deliver an experience which is valued to retain them.

If they are struggling with comms, how will they fare when it comes to customer experience. It could prove the graveyard for App services unless they start to promote something their customers can connect with of value, best served through meaningful content.

Take a look around the walls adorned with ads next time you have a few moments. Search out the ads promoting Apps. If you find one which you think connects with its audience in a meaningful, motivating and differentiating way please send it to me to restore my faith. Or if you find a play on words ad which isn’t ‘bottom of the barrel’ material again email me.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com 

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. 

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There’s always a better way with CX

signs 2Inspiration for CX improvements are all around you. Which is why CX practitioners, like creatives before them should carry a little black book and camera for idea collection everywhere they go.

I was in Italy earlier this week with Dr Prof Phil Klaus working through some customer performance measurement analysis for a retail client bank. Whilst travelling I came across this alternative to the abrupt ‘Drop & Go’ signs I’ve seen at UK airports. It reminded me that if you take a step back from the functional purpose of the activity, there is often a more engaging way to communicate it.

IMG_6966On another trip a couple of weeks ago I was grateful for this application of signage. Rather than buried amongst the transfer, bag collection etc signage the ‘how to get out here’ directional signage was very evident and allowed me to get out of Copenhagen airport, which I didn’t know, faster than those I am more familiar with.

citizen mBut my out and out favourite brand for putting more effort into the message and by doing so always putting a smile on my face too, is Citizen M. I’ve only ever stayed at the Citizen M hotel in Glasgow hotel. But whenever I’ve stayed in Glasgow I’ve only ever stayed at Citizen M.

Every standard and specific message visible at Citizen M has been well thought through and crafted to convey the spirit of the brand. Door signage, soaps, menus – you name it. Even the door mat. I can imagine the brand/marketing/design/CX/Facilities (I’m sure they are well integrated) team sitting down and saying, ‘there has to be more we can get out of the door mats’ and then arriving at this ‘concierge flattery style’ approach.

Looking at those underutilised spaces in retail, on livery, on the website or across communications present wonderful low cost opportunities to reinforce the personality of the brand or draw attention to experiences that have been developed to increase customer contentment. Fun without connection to the business and it’s intention is frivolous, but alignment is powerful stuff.

It’s also delivers a quick win way to evidence of CX improvements if you need to demonstrate to colleagues, customers or the CEO that things are happening.

We call it SIBI (small ideas = BIG IMPACT). If you would like to know how we can identify Experience Design SIBI’s for your brand, we’d love to hear from you.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

Lexden helps deliver Customer Experience Strategy and Programme Management 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. 

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

 

With customer experience design, functional is good. But don’t stop there.

“Focus on the whole journey, not just the transaction”.  In the world of Customer Experience (CX) you will hear this phrase frequently.  But what does it mean?

It’s the difference between a task and a purpose.  The difference between a user story like the one above, and meeting a customer’s overall goal.  It is important to understand the difference between the two, because how you frame the interaction determines how your customer will experience it.

This is perhaps best illustrated with an example:

The background.  You are a lifelong customer of Locality Bank.  Your parents took you in to the bank open your first account when you were a child, and you remember how you felt when a moneybox was presented to you as a thank you.

Your dealings with the bank over the years have always been consistent, efficient and straightforward.  You don’t usually give banking too much thought, often using online services.  It just happens in the background.

But recently you decided to strike out on your own and start a business.  This is new and uncharted territory, and you are looking for help to get started.  Locality Bank are the first people that spring to mind.  You phone them to make an appointment – you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

Scenario 1.  The person who answered was fantastic.  She knew exactly what you were looking for, apparently quite a few customers are in the same boat, so they have put a package together just for people like you.  She invited you to come in , walk through how everything works, then decide which elements will work best for you.  She knew you had been with them for years, so they know you pretty well.  There will be very little form filling, and lots of talking about your business and what excites / worries you most about starting up.

Scenario 2. The person who answered was polite and efficient.  She asked if you would like an appointment to see a new business adviser.  You  asked whether that was the best thing, but she didn’t have any other options, so you booked an appointment anyway.  She promised to send a pack in the post which you can fill in and bring along.  It will help the Bank assess your suitability for a business account.  You felt a little unsettled by this.   What if they can’t help?  If you can get through this stage, it’s another step towards your little business getting up and running, but you will look at other options just in case.

Scenario 1 leaves you reassured, and looking forward. Scenario 2 leaves you anxious and looking for a plan B

We’ve all encountered these scenarios, where we’re left feeling a certain way by one supermarket/airline/store/bank and completely different by another.  It’s something you can’t put your finger on, but it makes you feel…something.

So why the difference?

In scenario 1, the business understood this customer’s whole journey.  The history of the relationship, their context right now (nervous excitement), and their goal (I want to start my own business, I need help to understand how it works).  It was efficient and easy, but it went beyond the transaction and delivered the total experience – which was reassuring, empathetic and human.  Almost as if they were standing beside this customer when she made the call.

In scenario 2, the business focused purely on delivering an efficient, easy transaction for their customer.  The customer’s goal is likely to have been framed as “I want to make an appointment to speak to a new business adviser”.  Nothing wrong with this – efficient and easy is the foundation of a good customer experience – but they were looking at the wrong goal…

It was all about the bank, not the customer.  The experience was functional, and process-driven, and left this customer feeling unsettled.

 Customers are human.  We all have complex brains.   When I set out for the supermarket I can be very task focused and impatient; I want to get in and out quickly (rational).

But I also equate food with home, and making people happy (not so rational).

Perhaps what I am really looking for is kudos from the family – a hugely effective distraction from price labels, and the reason why I often come out of the supermarket without the items I went in for (completely irrational).

So how do we avoid falling into the trap of designing purely functional journeys which miss the point for customers?

Map the journey.  From the customer’s point of view.  Journey mapping is a brilliant method of stepping back from the minutiae and seeing the whole picture:

Map the journey.  From the customer’s point of view.  Journey mapping is a brilliant method of stepping back from the minutiae and seeing the whole picture:

  • Get close to customers, in the moment.  This helps you to understand how customers think (and ex-customers, and near-miss customers)
  • Decide how you want your customers to feel, and what you want them to say about you.  What does your brand stand for?
  • Use journey mapping to show where you are hitting the mark, or not.

Journey mapping helps to clear the mist, so you can design interactions with purpose, which meet their true goals and deliver the total experience.

Reproduced with kind permission by Beth Richardson, Lexden Consultant – helping business get closer to customers.

An interview with Head of Customer Strategy & Insight, Stephen Plimmer, Kent Reliance

Stephen Plimmer

In a continuation of Lexden’s series of interviews with Customer Experience leaders, MD Christopher Brooks caught up with Kent Reliance’s Head of Customer Strategy & Insight, Stephen Plimmer to better understand the role of CX in the business.

Christopher Brooks (CB): OneSavings Bank was the toast of the FS Sector at this year’s Financial Services Forum’s Marketing Effectiveness awards, collecting the Best Customer Experience Award, among other accolades. Does the recognition come as a surprise or is this something you’ve been working towards for some time?

Stephen Plimmer (SP): For us, this was never a completely new way of thinking. The Marketing function always understood how important customer loyalty and experience was. But as a function, knowing that isn’t enough. The whole organisation has to be on-board and understand it and that’s what we’ve been working on over the last few years.

We’re lucky in that we have fantastic customer facing staff, both in branches and over in our call team. How we improved our customer service was a key part of our Customer Experience story and the recognition is all to do with their dedication and enthusiasm. Customer Service is such a key part of the overall customer experience.

Our call team always wanted to deliver exceptional service, to go beyond expectation and to embrace Customer Experience Management. Listening to customer feedback helped empower them to do so.

CB: Would it be fair to say OneSavings Bank is a relatively new brand for consumers? With a very busy banking services market well established and a host of distinctive new entrants arriving, what is OneSavings Bank bringing that others have failed to do?

SP: OneSavings Bank trades as Kent Reliance, a brand with over 150 years of heritage. When we started out on the Customer Experience programme we needed to know how important that brand name was to people and what it meant. We conducted several focus groups and surveys and aside from spitfires and the White Cliffs of Dover (something people always associate with the country) the recurring themes were around words like traditional, heritage and trusted.

There was a clear affection for the brand and of course at the time, most high street banking brands were considered quite the opposite. We discovered that many customers wanted a brand they felt they could trust, a need for those values. We just needed to make sure we understood and lived up to them. It was from this research we were able to start planning our Customer Experience programme – by setting clear objectives.

CB: Does a digital age increase the challenge for FS brands to deliver a great customer experience, or can it improve things?

It’s a fast evolving sector, mobile technology, greater expectations over speed of transacting; instant gratification and confidence in security are some of our greatest challenges. It is an incredibly competitive market now, with lots of new entrants. It’s about understanding your customer’s requirements and, if you can, staying one step ahead of that. I think that can only improve things but we’re not losing sight of the fact that not all our customers need great customer service delivered only online. Many expect the same level of service in branch and over the phone. It’s about delivering that consistency of service across all channels.

CB: ICS (Institute Customer Satisfaction) figures show that customer satisfaction has dropped despite more firms investing in it, so do you think this is a reflection of customer expectations increasing, a focus on the wrong things by companies or is there something else to consider here?

SP: I think expectation levels have certainly played a part. I also think that although Customer Service is an incredibly important part of delivering a great customer experience, I think many people still think customer service and customer experience are the same thing.

Customer Experience is in fact the sum of the whole, customer service playing an important part in that, but it is also about brand perception, relationship building, understanding your customers – what they like and dislike. It’s about delivering the brand qualities consistency across all channels and during the entire customer life cycle.

CB: Collecting the FSF’s Awards for CX demonstrates it’s a key priority of your overall proposition, how important overall would you say it is for OSB?

SP: It’s very important. We continuously engage with our customers and measure experience at every touchpoint. For Kent Reliance this has enabled a business transformation rather than a marketing function revolution. The crucial part was getting all customer facing functions on-board, otherwise you are just producing metrics. Unless all customer facing functions, and ultimately the business strategy units understand what customers were telling us, then key indicators are pointless.

CB: With trust from consumers being typically low in FS, do you think delivering great CX in financial services has its unique challenges other sectors do not face?

SP: There are so many alternatives in the FS sector now that product differentials and relying on customer inertia (as some probably still do) is no longer going to cut it. You need to be easy to deal with and you need to understand just how your customers want to deal with you. Gaining that understanding and then secondly delivering it is key.

CB: Do you think CX is a viable approach to demonstrate and deliver a more trusted brand to consumers?

SP: Trust was one of the key words associated with our brand and one of the traits we are naturally always working hard to retain. Our Customer Experience programme looks at these brand traits and makes sure we keep coming back to them in all we do.

CB: Can you provide an outline on your winning entry and why you think the judges saw merit in your submission beating retail giants RBS and Santander among others?

SP: The entry was around how we had engaged with our customer base, understanding their perceptions of us and what was important to them. This knowledge then prioritised operational change projects and channel development.

When the guest speaker joked at the start of the evening about a poor experience he once had was probably because the hotel group in question had put an accountant in charge of customer experience – the joke wasn’t lost on my colleagues around the table. But actually, my management accounting background has proved incredibly helpful when it comes to Customer Experience programme. From the very start I wanted to track and prove the impact the programme was having. And I think it was that evidence and the clear targets we set ourselves that made the difference.

CB: What would you say has been the key milestones or step changes at OSB in bringing customers more to the forefront of business decision making?

SP: Understanding what our brand meant to customers – existing and potential new ones. From that setting clear objectives to make sure the actual experience was consistent with what our customers wanted.

We gathered an in depth understanding of our customer base, from which we could segment and better understand their needs and how they wanted to transact with us.

We worked with a third party survey provider which allowed us to automate and expand surveying, also providing us with alert functions to be able to gather feedback across all channels and touchpoints – some in real time.

CB: Your CEO, Andy Golding has been associated with some more innovative Customer-led financial services companies in recent times. How important is it to have a CEO who backs the customer too?

SP: Within Andy’s first week here he wanted to sit down with key internal stakeholders and understand what our customers were saying about us; what they liked and disliked and how they rated each channel. Since then, customer feedback has helped prioritise all operational changes – what the operational managers needed to change or improve. He receives detailed customer MI, not just metrics but verbatim – what his customers are actually saying about the business.

We needed the whole business on-board if our customer experience programme was to be a success and having a CEO who feels passionately about delivering great customer service naturally helps convince people.

CB: What would you say is your proudest moment so far at OSB?

SP: There are many projects and initiatives that we’ve been a part of, but I would say the work we did with one of the call teams stands out.

New regulations across the mortgage market led to the call team struggling to answer even the simplest of customer queries; this led to poor CX metric scores and customer frustration. Working with various teams from across the business we were able to provide the call team members with training and simple to follow guides for dealing with customer calls. From call monitoring and understanding the issues customers were facing, we were able to improve the call team’s score dramatically; literally overnight. The call team were able to deliver a far better service which made them more confident which in turn we could see made a very positive impression on our customers.

The team are still improving and learning. It was a fantastic ‘quick win’ which really got them engaged with the customer experience programme.

CB: So the journey has started, what’s next for OSB and what can we expect to see you doing to wow your customers?

SP: More employee engagement, we are redefining our desired employee behaviours and making sure they are aligned to the brand image.

We are also increasing the research programmes, competitor analysis and using NPS from a more strategic perspective.

CB: Who do you admire most in terms of CX – either FS or beyond, and why?

SP: Some of the names here will probably be of no surprise, but in my experience it’s Amazon and John Lewis. Amazon make it easy to transact with and in terms of the whole business brand experience it’s John Lewis. For me, it’s the whole end to end process and in particular post sales. I’m confident that even if there was a problem post sale – it would get resolved. It’s about staff delivering the brand and ease of transaction.

CB: We are talking customer experience; can you give me a personal example of brilliant customer experience from any part of your life, not just financial services, you can recall you really liked and remember?

SP: I always struggle to recall a brilliant experience; like many consumers I can usually recall bad ones very easily. A certain laptop/tablet manufacturer springs to mind.

CB: So getting it right for customers clearly matters to you at OSB. How do you keep track of what matters most to customers? Are these enduring or changing needs?

SP: As we’ve said, this is a fast moving sector with lots of new entrants. For us, it was always more about the verbatim, monitoring shifts in verbal feedback patterns to know first what our customers wanted, liked or disliked and then from acting on that how that changed customer sentiment. Not just a score. A score is just a way of tracking, but it doesn’t tell you why it is what it is and how to change it.

We have also recently launched an online focus group. A panel of customers that we can engage with on specific topics. This allows us to research a new product concept or test new literature to make sure we are getting it right.

We also produce detailed journey maps, into which we put customer sentiment, scores measured at various touch points and data from the complaints team. We then use these maps when looking at key journeys with operational managers so that we can see how we can improve things – see what the pain points are for customers and how we can make these better. Sometimes this is as simple as making a letter clearer but then sometimes the whole process is re-engineered.

CB: Finally, there are many firms just waking up to CX (customer experience). What wisdom would you give anyone starting out on their venture?

SP: Have clear objectives by gaining a deep understanding of current perception of your brand and how this compares to where you want to position it. Let the voice of the customer prioritise change and get buy-in from the highest level.

Also, demonstrate some quick wins, if there is mistrust of CX Strategy then demonstrating how effective it can be helps change perceptions. This doesn’t have to be a profit measure or a traditional CX metric, but more helpful is when you can evidence that you have reduced call wait times or complaints about a specific process – these are real impacts for both customers and staff.

Finally, make sure you take everyone on the journey with you – staff and customers.

Many thanks to Stephen and we wish him and Kent Reliance continued success.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, MD, Lexden, Independent Customer Experience Consultants.

Before we start, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there is no silver bullet or magic CX pill which will transform a business overnight from having a poor customer experience to a great one. And if there was, it’s the customers who will be the judge of the shift rather than the company. And our memories last longer than a ‘customer transformation programme’ does.

I’ve witnessed, less informed, but more globally located management consultancies inform CEO’s they can go from bottom to top of their sectors CX charts in just 3 months (which was then extended to an equally unrealistic 2 years). Well those years passed and whilst the management consultancy earned a seven figure fee, the CEO lost his position and that business is still rooted at the foot of those same CX charts!

So the formula, whilst not magic, is one I pass on to all; CEO’s, CX Directors, PhD students through to owner friends of small businesses:

Infinity LoopThey are interdependent and continuous. Beyond this I would question the value of any investment.

Knowing what ‘matters’ and defining the ‘meaningful difference’ are the first steps. Once understood and valued, the scale of what can be done and the return it delivers can be assessed.

The outcome of which must be measured in business performance rather than inferred intentions such as NPS. Also the brand differentiating standards of delivery must be consistent across all areas of the business and effect behavioural change others can’t emulate. Customer experience has to work hard, and brand (often an ever hungry cash requestor built on a model of fear of not spending) can be wholly accountable.

Some pursue this path by building a differentiation using strengths to exploit a shortfall in the sector (take the fixers at Direct Line), For others it is about delivering experience when it matters most to customers in a very brand centric way (which others will struggle to emulate).

Either way, they are not tradable – deliver both AND if you want to have the CFO’s support, ensure all endeavours are measured against something meaningful than a customers inferred intention to tell someone else about your brand, make sure it’s pegged to behavioural change resulting in increased share of category spend (take a look at EXQ). One approach will keep the interest of your CFO, the former will highlight gaps and can be the start of the end of CX for some companies.

It’s a fascinating area of business, and one which Lexden are delighted to support clients effectively. To find out how to apply this approach to your business contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com. Alternatively, take the formula and pursued effectively, you will succeed on your own.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Lexden CEO

Driving Cultural Change to Improve CX Performance

The Financial Services Forum recognise the growing importance of customer experience for financial services companies. So we were delighted to speak earlier in the year on the topic of branded customer experience. Our content and delivery gratefully chimed and we were asked back to share with FS practitioners our views on how to culturally embed customer experience within companies. It’s an area we find has a massive impact on ROI and profit from CX when understood and structured effectively.

On the day Direct Line joined us as speakers to share their ‘front line’ experiences. The parallels between the two presentations were reassuring and encouraging given Direct Line’s recent CX and marketing award winning successes. The Lexden presentation is available to members of the FSF through their website. For Lexden followers, the presentation can be found on our website www.lexdengroup.com. When you sign up you will access all whitepapers and presentations including those from our recent ‘Masterclass in FS CX’ event where Professor Dr. Phil Klaus was a keynote speaker.

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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.