Tag Archives: pret a manger

Are your customers starting to suffer from customer feedback fatigue?

A couple of weekends ago I travelled to the New Forest in the South of England for a two night break with my wife and two boys. The trip was focused around a day out at Paulton’s Park as a treat for our three year old. Our seven year old loves hotels so we stayed in two. We ate out a couple of times and overall had a great family time.

What made the stay so good? Well it was the fact that we all get along famously, plus everything worked as it should – because we’d organised it as such and chose brands we could rely upon. Okay, I can’t take all the credit.There were a couple brilliant customer experience moments which added to the occasion such as the yo-yo’s for the boys when we checked in at the Novotel and having the pool at The Best Western all to ourselves.

ikea feedbackOn the way back home we popped in for a typical ‘essentials only’ shop at IKEA Southampton. We won over the boys with the promise of apple flan. £150 later we’d picked up the supposed essentials and headed for some lunch.

As we were eating lunch I noticed a customer feedback machine in the restaurant where people were coming to eat. I asked a member of staff why it was chosen to go there in the restaurant. His response summed it up, “People come here to shop. People come here to eat. Why would they come here to tell us what we should do better? I’ve never seen it being used”.

I think I need a holiday to complete these feedback surveys!

The following morning I was at Waterloo and stopped at Pret’s to get a cup of coffee on the way to work. On the wall was another feedback survey request. My iphone inbox pinged at me with a request from the Novotel to tell them what we thought of their services and facilitates! This was soon followed by Paultons and Best Western.

survey emails

Less than 24 hours since IKEA and I’d been confronted with several feedback surveys! Even as a CX expert with a penchant for interrogating customer feedback to develop differentiating brand experience for clients, I felt worn-out at just the thought of ploughing through the surveys.

nero surveyThe quality across pret surveythese surveys varied wildly. And with some it was clear all they were interested in was a performance score rather than understanding what worked and what could be better. More worryingly not one took time to find out whether my weekend went as planned, was I happy with the jaunt, how their brand fitted into my weekend, which other brands I’d been relying upon that weekend alongside theirs, how their brand compared to those others I’d been pleased with, did they stand out for any reason that had been memorable to any of my party or whether I now saw their brand as a reliable trust agent for just this sort of event or I’d let them into other parts of my life. in fact, the stuff that mattered to me!

Sadly the insight which would richly furnish their understanding of the value of their brand to their customers and the impact the experience had on them was omitted. Instead they asked me questions like:

  • Was it value for money?
  • Would I tell my friends?
  • Was the booking website easy to navigate?
  • Did I speak to a member of staff whose name I can recall and did they exceed my expectations?

I love all the brands I’ve mentioned, with this type of bombardment we will soon see the demise in the value of customer feedback unless a sprinkle of innovation and a large dose of customer relevance is applied.

However, too often customer feedback is seen as a measure rather than a palette to enhance customer’s lives with.

Is this really the best time?

dublin surveyThis example affronted me the moment I’d gone through security at Dublin airport. Now is this a moment I really want to stop and feedback my experience? Perhaps (small ‘p’) if it was less than a great experience AND time is on my side I might. But if time is against, no chance. And would anyone really consider stopping and feeding back on a good security experience?

On two recent commissions I have seen ‘customer feedback’ surveys appear in the top ten issues for a brand in the Voice of The Customer Analysis. One brand was serving ten feedback surveys to customers a year. It seems the survey ‘monkeys’ have forgotten, it’s the customer’s world and we just live in it. To obtain feedback from a customer is a privilege, not a right. We should be mindful of that when asking for it and even more so when considering how to apply it.

Future Trends in Customer Feedback

Feedback systems will continue to be rolled out. But, can brands look forward to customers informing them of their priorities? Or will consumers begin to find their day becoming ever more polluted with feedback requests and drop them from their daily activities.

My prediction is that feedback will be less readily offered in the future. I was reviewing trends in the customer feedback space for an airline conference presentation and noticed two which will mean we might all have to rethink how we engage customers for feedback:

@VexVox The prickly hedgehog listens to tweeters grumbling about brands and brings it to the attention of others as well as engaging the brands affected. As the volume of followers grows vexvox will have not one or two comments to feedback to brands, but acting on behalf of consumers will have hundreds of similar complaints to bring to the brands attention. With such an easy way of jumping the complaints queue and a no hassle way to attain resolution, feed back surveys will become a less attractive route.

The second is still in development so I can’t share the newco’s details just yet. But the principal is this; ‘your data is your property’ – their genie commercialises it for customers. Sources tell me the customer will trade claimed behaviour data for credits. These will increase in value if the ‘claimed’ matches the ‘actual’ behaviour. One aspect is a ‘catch all’ customer feedback survey option which provides back to the brands structured around what matters to the customer. The customer will be discouraged from using any other form of customer feedback.

Don’t get me wrong the health of the feedback survey sector is very much alive. With TripAdvisor we see that the ‘public’ feedback channel is booming. The difference here is it has a commercial model underpinning it. This form of feedback has a future.

Whereas internal feedback systems will be under threat. It’s time to start thinking about the next generation of customer feedback because consumers are getting tired and impatient at a time when business’ are becoming every more reliant.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Strategy Consultant & 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.

The Best of a Marketer’s Diary: Jubilee Special

With three union jack waving events back-to-back in the form of the Queens Jubilee, Euro 2012 (more George Cross, than UJ granted) and the Olympics, there’s many streets in Britain that will have bunting up for three months or more this year. With this epic Britishness window comes a flood of marketing activation and communications leveraging the opportunity too.

There wont have been a marketing exec meeting in the land this spring which hasn’t had the, “how can we exploit, I mean celebrate, these occasions?” question posed. And for some this has resulted in effortless and well connecting communications. Whilst other brands have brought us what looks more like lipstick on a pig, or perhaps a corgi is a more fitting reference for the occasion.

Here are a selection of our favourite finds. Please add your own in the comments box below.

First Prize

There weren’t enough pun executions for my liking in the Jubilee advertising season. Rarely is it acceptable, but this is one time when a big slab of British cheese is exactly right. Great work from Buxton Water on this front. And when you get in to the detail of it you see it’s a more interesting proposition linked to an elegant party at the Eden project. Although I found the online experience to find the party details a tad more difficult than I hoped. But perhaps like sunshine on a flotilla parade, getting everything perfect is a bit too much to expect.

Best in class

Pret used the opportunity to do their bit for the streets of London, and I assume the nation. They captured one of the unwritten benefits of a national event; the chance to get your best jacket or frock out and feel good for a day or two. Of course John Lewis got in on the action too, but not with as much of a M&S ‘coronation chicken special’ or Sainsbury’s ‘ham & mustard 2012’ flavour. Just gentle bunting shots, picnic promotions and relevant partner tie ups.

Slap a ‘jack on it’ 

So who hasn’t used the union jack this season? But these two for me personify the, ‘Why not – we’ve got nothing to add, but nothing to lose!’ approach used too often. The first example is from Vaseline and the world of lip balm and the second from the more niche customised radiator market (from The Design Show – exhibitor not captured). And if it’s stretched to these two lesser spotted sectors, you know it’s rife in almost every other!

Retail Royalty

There have been some fantastic explosions of patriotism in retail windows this season. Something the online players have failed to be capture as well. I spent an afternoon in Winchester over the Jubilee weekend and was amazed at the quality of the independent traders efforts. But from a national chain perspective there were a few which caught my eye again and again. Charles Tyrwhitt and Cath Kidston both got the window dressers to create original themes which also pushed product. And every time I walked by them I felt justifiably ‘jubileed’.


Finally there are those who majored in ‘Shouty man’ at advertising school, with a minor in ‘How to bring the tone of any occasion down’. Venture photography and the pro’s Paddy Power didn’t disappoint with their ‘Laughing Liz’ creations. Paddy Power also took ‘integration’ to a new level by blending the Jubilee with the Euro tournament in one execution. Talk about stretching the marketing budget that little bit further! Hideous? Possibly. Hilarious? Absolutely.

So there we have it. Of course many more took part. In fact it would be easier to count the brands that didn’t. But these examples above others caught the Marketer’s Diarists attention. Do let us know if you feel you have worthy winners for any of the categories, or indeed categories of your own for us to add.

In due course we will also bring you our Euro 2012 and Olympics 2012 reports too.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

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

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com orajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 18 – Democracy at the coffee shop

Knowing, finding and hiring the types of people you really want in your organisation is taxing.  It is a key challenge for us at Lexden at the moment and why we have been observing how different businesses go about it.

Hiring the wrong people costs businesses millions.  From the CEO who formulates the wrong strategy, through the senior manager who cannot appropriately engage their staff to the operations associate who has a problem with punctuality, the upfront financial cost of getting these people in the business is never recouped.  Let alone the non-financial costs in terms of lower morale for the staff who were there before the person started, and who probably knew there would be problems from day one.

So much about deciding whether a person will fit into an organisation comes down to deciding on the ‘chemistry’.  Now this is something you cannot get from a beautifully written two page CV.  It is pretty difficult to ascertain from a one to one interview.  And you only gain marginally more information from one of those group interview exercises where individuals are observed by senior managers, whilst completing a task as part of a team.

Very few jobs do not require a significant amount of interaction with fellow colleagues and staff members.  If a new hire does not fit in with the existing processes, procedures and personalities then it is not hard to see that the team dynamic will be altered and productivity will suffer.  It can have a major impact on the business.

Pret a Manger have an interesting way of mitigating the risk of this happening.  They ask all prospective new hires to work for a day in a typical Pret shop (for pay).  At the end of their day, the existing Pret team members then vote on whether they should be hired.  Simple.

There are, I think, two reasons why this is a great approach.  Firstly it gives Pret the best chance of making the right hiring decisions in the first place-who better than the team members the person will work closely with to make the decision?  And secondly, by empowering the team to make the hiring decision, Pret makes the team jointly responsible for ensuring the success of the new staff member.  Since they are on the line for the decision, there is no way they won’t make every effort to assimilate the new hire.

It is certainly a different-unordinary-approach to the market norms for hiring staff in the coffee shop/fast food industries.  But if you look at Pret’s growth, consistent customer experience, happy looking people and low staff turnover, they seem to be in a very different place to their competition.  Who says democracy does not work?

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

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Best of ‘A Marketers Diary’ (December 2011)

Each day I capture an image of a piece of MarComms which has impressed me and stayed with me. With so many advertising messages out there, this might seem an easy thing to do. But unless comms ‘connect’ with consumers in their lives with messages relevant to their immediate or more long term motivations, you’d be surprised how many don’t stick. And as someone who has been involved from directing business strategy through to executing TV ads, it’s helped me understand further how to construct ads which make a lasting impact.

These monthly blogs contain three of the marcomms from my monthly diary which have made it to the final podium. There was some great stuff about, seasonal and otherwise. But, with Christmas in the month, it became clear to me from my consumption habits that from 24th to 28th December (when I came to London for a day out with my family) branded ads were not reaching me. The TV’s off, newspapers not read, no websites searched or emails scanned. In fact, beyond Fisher Price and Lego, not much did get through.

Below, is what did connect with me together with explanations why. Congrats to National Express East Anglia and Virgin Airlines.

BEST SEASONAL GREETING – Friday 16th December 

This is a service message about alterations to National Express East Anglia line over Christmas. It didn’t need any festive cheer, but some art worker has popped a little hat and some holly on the text. And what does it do? It puts a smile on your face. It doesn’t take much to turn a very flat flyer into an upbeat production. I’d go as far to say, and I am sure this wasn’t the master plan intention, it softens or even masks, the news about disruption. Christmas has a magical effect on all of us.

 BEST MEDIA PLACEMENT – Wed 28th December

We visited the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. And we also went to Zippo’s circus. It was great. Our 5 year old was in tears of laughter at the clowns, our one year old tapped along to the music and we were amazed by the contortionist and the high wire act. The big top and the unique signage created a strong brand message which rockets across the sky. And yet, when you look at the sign on the right you see a lead message ‘it’s warm inside’ – could that be the world’s biggest undersell? Or just a smart way to sell a few last minute seats motivating a different audience driver; survival in cold climates! Either way it got me chuckling, and that was enough (simple as I am) for me. Also I love the shape of the wording and the font of Zippo – so circus.

BEST PROMOTION – Wednesday 14th December 

Pret getting in on the festive cheer in a way much more impactful than a 50% off voucher and more immediate than a free ticket to Legoland.  saying merry Christmas with a simple satsuma; a traditional ‘luxury’ stocking gift. Not only did it feel nostalgic, but it felt personal too because every gift is individual.  Brilliant. I enjoyed mine and will think of Pret whenever I eat another. They’ve also moved up my preferred list of coffee shops too. So a sweet gesture could have a massive commercial advantage over time. And the sweet gesture also came with a 25p charitable donation from Pret to help the homeless over Christmas.

Posted by Christopher Brooks http://www.twitter.com/@consultingchris

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

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.