Tag Archives: nationwide

Applying small Customer Experience improvements to your business to make a BIG impact

Driving a positive behavioural change in customers is the surest way to increase their sustainable contentment and commitment to your business. We’ve seen this achieved when programmes focus on what really matters most to the customers and the business delivers best.

Of course setting the companies CX compass correctly means understanding that Customer Performance measures will mean for the business. For instance, no CFO worth their Masters degree in Economics is going to thank you for delivering a sparkly green looking dashboard showing industry leading promoter scores or top box customer satisfaction if they don’t correlate with profitability.

CEO’s are waking up to (or more often walking into) this reality in their business. If this sounds familiar, then efforts should be diverted to improving the customer performance measures to reflect efforts on CX which drive business profitability. In a study by Prof. Dr Phil Klaus, amongst companies who drive 600% ROI from their CX programmes, effective CX measurement was the No.1 contributing factor for success.

If you’d like to know more on this contact Christopher Brooks and reference 600% ROI.

If you are chartering the correct course, then it’s worth remembering that results from CX take time. So keeping stakeholders’ engagement and belief in CX is key. To do this we recommend small ideas which deliver a big impact (siBI).

I was speaking to a regular on the CX speaker circuit recently who said, ‘We do this all the time. We are always fixing stuff so it works for customers’. Beware, there is a clear distinction between improvements which reaffirm consumer’s choice of a brand versus ‘fixing stuff that was broken’. Not all realise this. However, ROI on ‘operational’ style fixes typically delivers only 125%; 4 times less effective than the vanguards achieve with branded experience.

nationwide2Here are 3 examples of small ideas which I feel demonstrate, in a small way, what the brand is trying to stand for through an enhanced experience.

Nationwide, a more considerate and caring building society takes the opportunity to ensure there is no mess left in the community from its cash machines.

It’s something all could do, but those who don’t have it in their DNA don’t.

I counted 4 other banks on our high street without this simple experience set up.

travellodge2Travelogical is the message from Travel Lodge. And this is a simple demonstration of logic. A basket of basic supplies which if you are so inclined you can take.

This not only reduces the effort and cost of staff dealing with customers requesting tea bags and sugar sachets, but it makes the budget hotel chain appear more generous than those perceived more premium.

Disneyland Paris in comparison provide a tea bag and coffee sachet per customer, per stay.

whopper2Finally, I saw this on a Burger King wrapper at Barcelona airport. Fast food chains have worked hard to demonstrate authentic and natural ingredients. What better way of stating it than on the wrapper from which is eaten. But actually stating it could backfire and have customers thinking why say it if you’ve got nothing to hide? So by making it part of the ‘what ingredients are in excluded from the order’, it allows the selection of natural ingredients which go in to make up the burger meal laid bare without stating them. Smart, simple and small.

They all share the ‘small’ in terms of investment as well as the ‘BIG’ in terms of demonstration of brand values. It’s that simple. Whilst they won’t achieve, ‘jump off the page’ unprompted positive verbatim they can be shared around the business as examples of quick, brand reaffirming experiences delivered for relatively little. Small ideas delivering Big Improvements.

Lexden helps deliver Customer Experience Strategy and 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 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.

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How I won without even entering the UK Customer Experience Awards

IMG_4794On 25th September I sat down to watch five heavyweights of banking take each other on in a battle of customer experience supremacy. Visa, RBS, NatWest, Virgin Money and Nationwide presented their customer experience initiatives to me and four fellow judges. As MD of Lexden, an independent customer experience agency, I am used to working with senior stakeholders to demonstrate the advantage of improvements. But that didn’t stop me feeling anything less than extremely privileged to chair the group.

The whole day is a genuine pleasure for several reasons, which as MD of Lexden justifies me taking time out of the schedule to enjoy the event. By the end of the day, even without a drink, I felt like a winner because of what I’d enjoyed and gained from the day. Here’s why…

The Judging format

As judges we receive the written entries a couple of weeks before to review and grade. Then on the day each company presents their entry. It’s then you get to see the passion for putting the customer first and can share the challenges they’ve had to get to this place. It’s inspiring and makes you realise we work in a brilliant industry when you watch the fabulous entries unpacked and presented for customer and commercial benefit.

Variety of organisations competing

Having judged discipline awards such as direct marketing, PR and loyalty you find companies are separated by size as well as sector. With the CX Awards all sized companies can compete alongside each other for categories such as ‘best use of customer insight’ or ‘team of the year’. I was chatting to a team from a smaller finance processing house who had been up against high street brands from other sectors, which made them feel great even though they hadn’t won on this occasion. The reason this can happen is unlike many other disciplines, the customer is the common currency here, which results in such diversity.

It’s also reflected in the occupations of the guests. Where else do you find Professors of Psychology rubbing shoulders with bank tellers rubbing shoulders with marketing execs rubbing shoulders with customers and their dogs (yes – that is right, Eurostar brought a customer and their pet dog along to support their case study).

Wonderful people

IMG_4800On that point of ‘broad cross section’, there is still something that every one of the 2,000 people Awards International attract (and wonderfully look after) at this event has in common; everyone is genuinely passionate about putting the customer first. Some awards collections were delayed as the recipients were in floods of tears such their commitment to that cause. It was emotional to see how much companies want to do the right thing.

Of course it’s more than just interesting for us at Lexden as an Independent Customer Strategy Consultancy helping clients to achieve just that.

Surprising guests

I saw many clients, former colleagues and friends at the event. But two stood out for me because they have offers which are not core to customer experience, but highlight how this area really is growing into a leading industry in business and marketing.

IMG_4807I met up with judges, Jo and Kate. They run a growing recruitment company called CX Talent DEDICATED to customer experience. The importance of the DEDICATED bit can not be stressed enough. Having helped a client recruit a customer insight and customer experience team from a generalist recruiter before it is a nightmare. With two minutes I could tell they knew their onions and their text analytics and their NPS from their EXQ. No recruiter should be without them!

I also met Millie and her colleagues from Boost Marketing. A company dedicated to helping people win awards – what a job! They are fiercely secretive about who they work with but they seemed to be smiling an awful lot when winners were announced. My conclusion being they are very successful at what they do! The conversations I had at our table with Millie suggested a real depth of understanding and interest in CX, which is reassuring if you appoint them to help shape your award entry submissions or help with your award entry presentation,

So there we are, why I enjoy these awards so much. Fortunately the industry is growing and with the quality of submissions each year improving I conclude we are in good shape too.

I am looking forward to helping clients win more awards and judging even better entries as the event which celebrates the very best the CX industry has to offer.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Managing Director, Lexden Ltd

Lexden helps deliver Customer Experience Strategy and 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 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.

5 exceptional financial services customer experience examples

CX award winnweThis summer saw the UK’s first Financial Services Customer Experience awards (that’s me on the right with the winning Direct Line team). It was a great day with a few brands taking the lead now. Nationwide, Direct Line and Standard Life picked up more than one gong. With some smaller players demonstrating that you don’t need a big budget to deliver stand out customer service.

We were there to partner the occasion. We judged, we awarded prizes, we also provided the key-note speaker and we had a ball. So I am sure the 2016 finalists line up will be even more hotly contested.

It will also be interesting to see if the winners can continue to turn their famous winning experiences in to even more profitable outcomes for their shareholders (or members in Nationwide’s case), by obtaining more share of their contented customer’s wallet.

The financial service sector has woken up to Customer Experience. With that in mind, here are 5 great customer experiences. We’ve highlighted some which are unique and some which are well used. We hope they provide inspiration either way.

Umpqua Bank’s night time antics

umpqua.png2This American retail bank, with a growing network of branches is bucking the trend. They are locally focused so they’ve introduced a range of ways to embed themselves in the community. Which is all part of their positioning as a community bank. One of the ideas is the ‘hand the keys over’ initiative. When evening falls the branch is closed so the branch is a dead space. Space is much sort after by community groups, so members of the local community can hire the open areas of the branch for social activities such as Pilates and book readings – thereby helping the community out by making more of their underutilised assets.

Sun Life Direct making life easier when it’s painful enough 

sun life directFamous for the over 50’s life insurance (mainly bought for funeral planning) product, 98% of new policy holders state they are happy with the service they get when the plan is taken out.

However, following the death of the policy holder, when a relative claims for a payout is when the brand must really deliver. It used to take a few weeks to get a payout because of the pieces of information and documentation expected.

The irony being that the account holder was often buried before funds which they’d put premiums into the plan for, were released. So the very purpose of the plan was therefore not delivered upon! A basic fail.

Sun Life decided to challenge this with a ‘we take the risk’ approach. It reduced the requirement at claims to one number being needed. With this agreed at Sun Life payouts happen in days now and relatives have less to worry about.

Such is the impact of this idea I’ve since seen it win awards for a different brand, so it clearly has meaning and motivation.

First Direct pay customers for leaving

First Direct buck the trend by not only offering customers an incentive to open a current account, but so confident are they that the experience received once customers join or switch will meet customer’s expectations, they offer the same again for them to leave!

first directThe First Direct Service Guarantee states, “We’ll pay £100 per customer or joint relationship if you close your Account within 12 months of opening it <small print>. We’ll pay the £100 into your account prior to its closure. All accounts with First Direct have to be closed and your 1st Account transferred to another bank/building society.”

I’ve held an account with First Direct (among others) for many years. I can vouch for the thread of steel holding all experience touch points together, across products, across time.  This individual acknowledgement is backed up by several reputable studies and awards in customer service and experience including uSwitch and UKCSI.

Becu bank closing for good!

becu closed for goodThe American retail bank makes a commitment to the communities it serves which is authenticated through every aspect of the business delivery. It’s clearly an authentic focus for them. As their website states; PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST | MAKING OUR COMMUNITY A PLACE TO PUT DOWN ROOTS. As a consultancy which preaches a customer first philosophy (allowing profits to follow) we really connect with Becu. We are a fan and follower of their progress.

Their community commitment is evidenced through several initiatives; people helper rewards, environmental stewardship, financial empowerment partnerships, foundation scholarships and ‘Closed for Good’. These are great experiences for customers, employees and the community to enjoy who see Becu as a bank which cares for its community. It also helps employees understand the importance of community which ensures it is then evidenced through every other touch point.

‘Closed for Good’ is an initiative run on October 20th this year. It entails the bank closing until 1pm and every employee identifying where financial support will be beneficial and sharing their expertise with groups in the community. Is this the business model being delivered or marketing? Either way it ensures customers and prospects experience first hand or through the inevitable word of mouth, that Becu care about those they help. This delivers that rarest of commodities for banks; trust.

AIB’s digital transition lab

aib3There is efficiency in migrating customers to digital interactions with their bank – both for the bank and for the customer. Preemptive marketing which can help customers keep one step ahead of decisions is a good example of where banks can provide customer relationship updates via a digital platform. Click on the pic for a virtual tour of the AIB LAB.

Allied Irish Bank recognised that whilst this is a commercial ambition for the bank, customers benefit from it too. Customer adoption will take longer to move from the ‘comfortable and not broken’ to the new world of digital banking. With that in mind they have created a ‘digital transition’ store in Dundrum Town, Ireland which has no sales agenda but a hand holding experience for customers to trial new platforms and ask questions. According to AIB it’s “designed to deliver an exceptional customer experience through digital self-service.

The award-winning enterprise is making the retail assets move from sales to education to and the support creates a new experience perception of the bank whilst encouraging in a passive and comfortable way customers to trial and adopt new banking platforms. It also presents a future impression of the bank’s image through this experience enhancing activation.

If you’ve enjoyed this article other ‘5 exceptional experiences’ posts cover airlines, how to have fun with CX, hotels and automotive. Click on any to link straight through.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden has a proven track record in delivering Customer Experience Strategy and Management to 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 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.

Three ways in which brands are optimising their customer experience investment

Customer Experience is still a relatively new strategy for businesses to follow. Whilst most have a feedback programme and a customer dashboard in place, many are still trying to figure out how CX will drive their business forward. Whilst this is playing out there are three options we’ve observed that have varying levels of effectiveness.

The ‘CX as a mission’ company

Zappos, the ladies online shoe retailer and part-time CX academy headed by Tony Hsieh. The strapline is ‘Powered by Service’. and with a number of legendary service delivery stories circulating they’ve become the ‘thinking CX practioners’ version of perfection.

zappos2One such story is that if a customer calls to buy shoes that they don’t have or sell, they will transfer them to a competitor free of charge so they can buy the shoes. Try that one if you are a telco or asset manager! But they have found when (and it’s when not if) the customer returns they spend 2.5 times as much on their next purchase. It’s baked in to who they are as any of their employee videos show.

The ‘CX as a measure’ company

I know of several companies who have put NPS up as a measure by which they will judge their CX success. Others even bonus staff on lifting NPS targets. I’ve also spotted NPS targets popping up in vision statements as well. But because it’s a number, it’s something that is aimed for and the business deems itself a success if it achieves it and a failure if it doesn’t.

I was at a conference recently and another speaker told me he’d seen car salesman rip NPS as a measure apart. It didn’t matter where the target was set they hit it everytime. And not a point more. They had worked out what they needed to do to achieve their targets. It had nothing to do with what mattered for the customer or how the company wanted to be portrayed. Scores like NPS are not what’s important, its the verbatim and feedback that they represent. This is the gold that helps the company get better and delight more customers. Be obsessed by customer betterment rather than the measure.

The ‘CX as a message’ company

kia adIt’s not surprising, with comms agencies taking an active role in CX strategy development, that some clients CX efforts focus on messaging their CX achievements. For instance, Kia have used the findings from what I assume would have been their VoC workshop inputs as the concept for a TV ad. With customer comments on post-its popping off the wall. It is then followed up with the boast of being voted No. 1 for satisfaction.

HSBC are in on the act too with a very beautiful ad. It parallels brotherly relationships with staff providing unexpected support and finishes with the strap line, ‘We reward our staff for delivering outstanding customer support’. Interpreted by a colleague of mine as, ‘We have to pay them otherwise they wouldn’t do it’.

Now having written a blog on the greatness of HSBC’s CX recently, I know it’s not like that in reality, so forgive my outburst HSBC – I love you still, but I’m not sure the ad agency or those briefing them, get what CX is. There’s a link below, make your own judgement but I think paralleling brotherly ‘love’ with customer service support is confused.

hsbc ad

In their TV ads, Nationwide use their CSAT scores (from their own study not an independent one) to present themselves as No. 1 for Customer Satisfaction on the high street. My wife, a member, would argue that’s unnecessary media spend. She knows they are No.1 in her eyes because they’ve always delivered a great experience and have earned the right to be her bank forever because they always do right by her.

She would say they don’t need to tell everyone how great they are. I would say they should use this platform to demonstrate why they are No.1 instead.

In summary

Great customer experience is something a customer feels and experiences. Those like Zappos who have it hard wired in to their DNA deliver it with every customer engagement. Those who place importance on measuring it will find CX is only great where or when it is measured. Just because the customer completed a feedback survey, it doesn’t mean they actually score the company. They only do that because they were asked to. For consumers its less quantitative – they know it’s right because it works for them. It’s an emotional connection and often only realised way after the event.

The reward is the customer remains engaged with a preference. They will stand in the queues, wait at the bus stops and sit in the coffee shop telling stories to others about how great your brand is.

However, this advocacy is a key benefit of delivering a great customer experience that should be measured because it will reduce your marketing acquisition and retention costs because your customers are doing your marketing for you.

Making sure your customer experience is a mission means the measurements will be achieved and the messages created through stories on the street which is more powerful than a TV campaign.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

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 experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on  M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205 .    You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com 

Is being ‘So Money Supermarket’ always a good thing?

I was at my brother’s 40th birthday celebrations at the weekend. As the evening drew in and the beers were flowing, as happens at important milestones in life, you begin discussing what really makes the world go round and what is important in life.

Of course the first point that came up was happiness. About being happy in the moment and leaving those you meet happier than when before they met you and giving back more to the society than you take from it. Money was not mentioned and nor was keeping up with the Jones’s next door which often comes up in research focus groups. I was surprised the money point was not mentioned so raised it. My brothers’ friend Dave laughed. Apparently he has a neighbour they call ‘Money-Super-Moron’, this is his story;

msmMoney Super Moron (MSM) spends weekend after weekend searching online for the best deals on anything he is looking at purchasing. My brother’s friend knows this because their raised garden means they can easily see into the neighbour’s conservatory where the computer is and because the MSMs kids are always round his house because their Dad never ‘has time’ to play with them.

Dave said that recently MSM was looking for travel insurance deals. He apparently spent all morning shopping around for the best deal while Dave, his kids, MSM kids and other neighbours went to the park to play cricket. Everyone returned from cricket for lunch and an afternoon of den building. Everyone except MSM. In the afternoon they heard him ranting on the phone. The insurance he’d bought, whilst cheap, didn’t cover what he needed so he was trying to get it sorted.

So Dave spent time in his garden. Dave put smiles on his own children’s faces and made his neighbour’s children smile too. Dave returned to work on Monday feeling like he’d had a decent fulfilling weekend. MSM bought travel insurance he didn’t want, albeit a few pounds cheaper, and drove the wedge of resentment between him and his children even deeper.

So whose so moneysupermarket now?

There are many causes which have created this warped sense of what’s most important in life. And to blame a comparison site or Martin Lewis alone is unfair.

Everyone has a different register of what’s valuable to them. If for MSM, and his type, saving a few beans is more important than quality time with his family, so be it. This is largely influenced by where you come from, where you have got to, where you want to get to and your surrounding influences. To the uber rich, truth is the most valued commodity. But to the poorest in society hope is a valuable commodity.  There’s no fixed answer.

nationwide curr accWhen I said to my wife recently that we’d need to consider travel insurance for our forthcoming family holiday to Turkey my wife reminded me we are covered under the package with her Nationwide bank account. And that’s as long as our search took. Two things raced through our minds (without us aware they did) in those few seconds:

  1. We trust it will be good enough cover for us because it’s from Nationwide, a brand who have always done right by us
  2. If there is a like for like cheaper policy out there from a brand we equally trust, why would we waste time to find it and set it up when we could be doing more meaningful things in life

Time is our most precious asset so ‘bundled accounts’ work for us.

MSM types might think they are smart and savvy. Marketing departments may label them as such too. But I think given the MSM experience, I suggest knowing where to invest time to get the most meaningful fulfilment is the true definition of smart and savvy.

With that in mind, I’m returning to the garden!

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Strategy & Director at Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Consultancy | Putting your customers at the heart of the decision.
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 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.