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Highlights from the 2017 Manchester Customer Experience Conference

With over 60 CX events available each year, why did I choose to attend the Customer Experience Conference in Manchester and what did I learn?

With some events, you know what you are going to get. Such as those run by tech vendors, who show case their tech stack as the CX silver bullet. Or the key notes from the ‘professional CX speaker’ circuit, who preach non-practised rhetoric. So, it’s important, considering how much they cost, to find ones which offer fresh content from a broad range of company perspectives I feel.

Why I chose the Manchester CX Conference  

It was this diverse range of promised case studies that initially attracted me to the September CX Event in Manchester. Among others, Virgin Trains, eBay, British Gas, Atom Bank and Leeds Rhinos were on the bill. I knew from this selection I would hear about battles in the board room and fantastic frontline improvements. In addition, I always look for an excuse to visit Manchester which is a firm favourite city of mine. And being a consultant, it was refreshing to see an affordable priced ticket for non-clients.

So, I got up at 4.30am and set off to Manchester with my note book in hand ready to capture some pearls of wisdom. The first speaker was the Head of CX from Virgin Trains, so as I boarded their 6.45am I wondered if I’d arrive on time and in good shape, or would I be raging having endured a miserable trip. VT didn’t let me down. I arrived at the conference hotel in time for coffee and croissants, laid out by the organiser in the middle of the now customary sponsored vendor’s baiting arena!

The hall was full and John Lewis’s Head of Contact Centre Operations kicked off proceedings with exemplary professionalism.

What I learnt at the Manchester CX Conference

We were off with several client presentations following in quick succession. Some were brutally honest and revealing whilst others skimmed over edited highlights. But scattered among the day were several gems which made the day valuable to attend.

eBay, Atom Bank and Virgin Trains presentations stuck in my mind as insightful and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Leeds Rhino’s CX presenters put passion in their pitch.

My five CX take outs from the day were:

  1. Some are losing faith with Net Promoter Score and its unreliable correlation with the commercial drivers of the business. With one highlighting the move to a more accountable ‘behaviour’ measure proving more insightful. That said many are still pegging everything to it
  2. The CX tech stack is still seen as an unwieldly However, some are shunning expensive platforms from gold plated sales reps opting for self-built solutions or using ‘free to use’ cloud based off the shelf set-ups to some effect
  3. Getting the CEO onside to drive CX is still critical. One organisation cited how they used to ignore customers until the new CEO arrived, who is customer obsessed and things have now changed
  4. Artificial Intelligence is proving a distracting for some who have more fundamental improvements to prioritise. The focus appeared to be on cost reduction rather than quality improvements. The issue of digital ethics was also raised in consideration of chat bots. Should companies declare to customers they are trying to kid them into believing they are talking to a human?
  5. Understanding how to engage other stakeholders with conflicting objectives is important to break down silo barriers. Which all agree is essential to move forward with CX.

Overall it was an enjoyable day. I heard passionate people talk, met a couple of interesting practitioners over coffee, caught up with vendors on what client challenges they are facing and heard much from the speakers to reaffirm our own methods and models we provide to clients are still at the front of the pack.

It was a shame Shopping Direct, Barclays, BooHoo and RBS from the originally advertised programme didn’t show. Even without these the organisers managed to run over time!

I got home about 8pm from the 16-hour round trip, making it a tiring day in search of fresh CX insight. The following day we ran an all-day planning session with a new client appointment’s team, so I was glad to have prepped beforehand and grab an early night.

Attending an event is a big commitment, both in terms of time and cost, so it must be worthwhile. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. The reality is it will be when you are in an improvement session or journey mapping months later that you will reach in to the memory banks and pluck out the relevant example you heard from that day at an event, making the value of attending conferences difficult to quantify.

On reflection, I gained.

With over 60 events every year in CX, keeping up with what’s on is hard enough, let alone picking the best ones.  If you want to know what’s on email christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com and I’ll email you the FREE listing of 2017 Global CX Conference and Event we’ve compiled to help others.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director of Lexden, Customer Experience Consultants.

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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The Financial Services Forum – Awards for Marketing Effectiveness 2015

It was Lexden’s first year as award sponsor at The Financial Services Forum Awards for Marketing Effectiveness 2015. We were delighted to  join other industry experts such as The Co-operative Bank, Columbia Threadneedle, Barclays, Direct Line, Aviva, SunLife, RBS and many others at the event.

This year saw the introduction of the Customer Experience category awards. Lexden , as independent specialists in FS Customer Experience were a natural choice to sponsor the award. It’s a new category for 2015 and one the judges expect will be very competitive in years to come.

The FSF Awards for Marketing Effectiveness are dedicated to recognising and rewarding proven success in the creation and promotion of financial services and products. Since the Awards were introduced in 2002, their purpose has remained consistent: to create a better understanding of the role and impose of marketing; to prove, beyond doubt, that marketing can be effective; and to promote and reward marketing effectiveness.

Christopher Brooks, Lexden’s MD, caught up with some of the winners and commended entries for their outstanding achievements on the night.

ThefSforum

Kent Reliance (Teamspirit) won the CX category for ‘Putting Customers at the Heart of the Experience’. In 2011, Kent Reliance reported a loss of £11.1m. Customer feedback was consistently unflattering, and rising complaints were matched by the departure of loyal customers. The company reacted immediately. It undertook extensive research, then launched a real-time customer feedback strategy, which shaped an innovative multi-channel customer experience, placing the customer at the heart of the solution.

The success of this strategy was simply extraordinary. Complaints reduced by over half in the first six months alone….and within just three years, customer satisfaction rose, sales trebled, and Net Promoter Score went from negative to mid range positive.

The judges said the entry had very clear insight with a variety of rich metrics made this a very succinct and well-executed entry.

Runners up for this category and commended included RBS (SapientNitro) for RBS Get Cash and Santander for Simple, Personal, Fair.

For RBS this is the story of how a small but high-value experience innovation has delivered new utility to a key group of at-risk under-35 customers and supported the bank’s broader brand promises of “Helpful Banking” (Nattiest) and “Here for you” (RBS). By embedding new technology in their mobile-banking apps, RBS/Natwest has made card-less access (for emergencies or just convenience) to cash quick and easy, as well as zero cost.

For Santander it was a radical new approach, which completely redefined customer experience at Santander. They needed to evolve their brand identity; and customer loyalty and satisfaction needed improving.

Listening to customer pain-points, Santander realised there was deep-seated anxiety at the core of the relationship between bank and customer. Customers didn’t trust banks, and wanted to feel confident in managing their money. Santander’s task became clear, and it would be mammoth, requiring a wholesale change in how they did business.

Other categories included Advertising, Content Marketing, Customer Loyalty & Retention, Digital Marketing, Direct Marketing, Integrated B2B Campaign, Integrated Consumer Campaign, Internal Communications, New Product, Service or Innovation, Public Relations, Social Media, Sponsorship, Best Consumer Insight, Best Contribution to Marketing Learning, Marketing Excellence, Young Marketer of the Year, Agency of the Year and Marketer of the Year.

We will also be speaking at other FSF events in the near future.

Lexden works with clients looking to achieve sustainable profit from Customer Experience Strategy and Management.

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.

 

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.