Tag Archives: strategy

Achieve World Class Customer Experience in 3 Steps

Most organisations have invested in a customer experience programme. Some are making a real success of theirs. We’ve had the pleasure of supporting some of these with their endeavours, interviewed CX leaders about their progress, judged winning CX award entries and experienced award success with our own clients.

However, we’ve also seen the evidence of programmes which fail to make the grade. There are a number of reasons for this. Sadly, it often boils down to investment in technology choices, neglecting to bring key stakeholders on the journey and chasing the wrong KPI’s.

But, any company can be transformed into delivering an award winning, world class customer experience which they are recognised for and their customers choose them over other choices for, in three steps. Furthermore, all three steps can be complete with 4 months.

3-steps-pic

Step 1 CX Programmes Profitability Alignment

Make sure the CX Programme activities are aligned to those which are known to drive success

Only 10% of CX programmes achieve their profit potential. It’s not surprising, research conducted in this area has identified there are 47 critical activities, which managed effectively, increase programme profitability by 600%. Now available as an evaluation tool (CXPPA) developed from CX Typology research(1), any organisation can benchmark how they are set up and managing CX against the world’s most successful performing programmes.

This evaluation not only benchmarks, but identifies how programmes compare to the best CX performers, as well as recommends what needs to be improved in which order to increase profitability. This step is achievable in 3 to 4 weeks.

Step 2 Prioritising What Matters Most 

Know what experiences matters most to customer’s decisions to choose one brand over others

Attention should always identify ‘what matters most to customers’ early.

By which we don’t mean, how to ‘make it easy’ or how to ‘personalise the experience’, we mean understanding what drives customer’s behavioural change. This is the most reliable indicator of customer’s decision to choose one organisation over another. In addition, it is a very effective way to understand how to improve both Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores.

Research conducted(2) into what drivers customer experience behaviour has identified that 25 customer drivers account for over 80% of everything any CX leader needs to know about what customers want fulfilled.

However, many of these 25 drivers have little to no influence on customer decision-making so are surplus to requirements. Which means if you reduce investment in them, performance scores stay the same, but costs can be taken out. Meaning the company is more profitable overall.

In addition, those drivers which are the most influential, are highlighted. This is where a company should focus CX investment to increase NPS, CSAT, profitability and success.

These drivers are known as Experience Quality Measures (EXQ) and are the work of Dr Professor Phil Klaus, world-renowned Customer Experience Academic.

Through Lexden, all companies can now identify their own EXQ set and with it know what to prioritise to improve their NPS and CSAT performance. This step is achievable in 4-6 weeks.

Step 3 Competitor Advantage with Customer Experience

Make sure the brand difference is amplified through the experiences 

The third step, enables a company to achieve competitive advantage through customer experience. Why is this worth noting? Much customer experience efforts are operationally or technologically efficient improvements. These are typically delivered with little consideration of how to build brand distinction. This means competitors can copy the ides and therefore neutralise any brand advantage which could have been achieved. In fairness, brand doesn’t help as the brand architecture is not seen as accessible working tool to apply

However, by designing a Brand Experience Platform, this is overcome and the brand becomes an asset to the customer experience. It is made up of two principal elements:

  • Brand Experience Idea – which acts as a rallying cry for all colleagues to connect the advantage of the brand to the importance of customer experience, in a way which all can understand.
  • Branded Customer Standards – these are the set of drivers (as mentioned in step 2) which matters most to customers, translated into standards the company must deliver to in a way only they can. This is most powerful when standards relate to profitability. These ‘standards’ can then be used universally by the company to design internal practices and ways of working and external delivery and experiences. All employees can then confidently work to deliver consistent experiences, which will further reinforce brand distinction.

Step 3 is about putting a framework in place to ensure consistency and making the most of the brand. Achievable in 6-8 weeks.

So there you have it. Three steps to take any programme from where it is to world-class.

All three programmes are available from Lexden should assistance getting there be needed. We’d be happy to share more with you and see if we can add real value to your endeavours. However, ownership of what you do and why, must stay within the organisation, not leave with the consultancy or customer feedback platform provider (the fourth reason for failure!).

cb2

 

 

 

Lexden delivers effective customer experience solutions for clients serious about sustainable customer relationships.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer Experience’ Update for monthly ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours.

(1) CX Typology is the copyright of Prof Dr Phil Klaus.

(2) Experience Quality Measurement (EXQ) focuses on the behavioural change achieved by a brand through customer experience. EXQ is the copyright of Prof Dr Phil Klaus.

Virgin Trains deliver the 3 in 1 CX equation

Anyone who has spent time on Virgin Trains will agree the ‘experience’ is different to those on other rail networks. In fact, as I travel on other networks I see more and more of Virgin’s ‘touches’ appearing. However, with Virgin it seems natural because that’s what the Virgin brand investment promises. With others rail companies it often seems awkward and stands out like a sore thumb.

Our preoccupation is to help clients identify what customer experiences drive profit and make those brand differentiating. Simple really. Through years of experience with this focus, we’ve accepted that driving profitable CX is much more likely to succeed when backed by a brand which is:This is the latest in our series of 3 branded experiences in a minute.

  1. meaningful to its customers so they can extract the value it offers;
  2. accessible by its employees to translate into meaningful customer experiences;
  3. envied by their competition who can at best deliver a ‘me 2’ copy of an experience.

Within a minute of arriving on a Virgin Train there are three brilliant reminders of their brand strength, delivered through the least likely of experience opportunities.

The step

This isn’t just any step. Courtesy of the Virgin brand, this is a whooshing, moving into place, Thunderbirdesque gliding Virgin step in to a world of potential (okay, slightly carried away, but you get the picture). It possibly is more attributable to the train manufacturer than Virgin for the steps movement, but none of the other companies have one.. Even if they did, theirs would still be a dirty step on to a train. With Virgin Trains, the brand promise has meant it could be so much more (even when it’s dirty too).

The loo seat

Virgin Trains demonstrate that ‘any’ piece of estate can be leveraged. This message could only come from them though.  You will find it on the back of the loo seat on-board, it’s also in the voice over in the loo…..yep the voice over in the loo. It starts as expected with, ‘please don’t flush nappies, paper towels’…but ends in a less expected place with ‘your ex’s sweater, hopes, dreams or goldfish’. This toilet humour would be strange from any other network, even though they have the same infrastructure, but for Virgin it is spot on.

virgin trains.jpg4virgin trains

virgin trains.jpg3

The loo wall

Apologies. My one minute journey took me from boarding to this room! It’s just a wall, surely! On every other train this is no more than a beige bobbly abyss of a wall. But on a Virgin Train it’s an escape route to another world. Admittedly not every other network has a balloon enterprise to throw up, although I couldn’t see that ever stacking up as a, ‘the reason we don’t do it’ response from the competition.

What it does show, to all, is how the less conspicuous and often overlooked spaces have as much a role to play in delivering branded customer experience as the more obvious areas of improvement such as service, comms and technology.

This issue featured Virgin Trains. Click here for our recent blog on Waitrose.

If you want to find out more about how to deliver brand differentiating customer experience, contact us,

We will bring you more 3 in 1 adventures from the world of CX. Next stops will include Citizen M and Mini. If you have a nominee for the 3 in 1 CX equation please send them through.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

We help clients build profitable customer experiences and create commercially advantageous customer value propositions

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 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 testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

5 examples of how to have fun with Customer Experience

Often customer experience improvements focuses on broken processes, reducing friction or the dreaded self-serve (normally cheaper for the business but more effort on the customers than they would really like). All are about taking away pain and turning detractors into promoters….okay passives.

But do companies have the momentum to take this through from their ‘permission to trade’ or ‘brilliant basics’ level up to ‘make it enjoyable’ level? Not always sadly. But when they do it creates positive talking points and memorable experiences. Of course without the maintenance ground work, building fun experiences is more difficult for the business to feel it should be investing in or customers to enjoy if they’ve got outstanding gripes.

Suspend that thought and put yourself in the shoes of a customer experience team who are over the brow of that hill and living in the ‘make it enjoyable’ zone. Here are five enjoyable customers experiences which tickled us and we hope you take inspiration from too.

What we like about these is that you can see what the old experience was like. It wasn’t actually broken but there’s always room for improvement. Someone has said, ‘Could we make it more fun and see if that makes it more successful?’

Turn left. You will

tomtomThe technologists behind sat-nav science are incredible. But those at TomTom who decided to make the instructions barked at you come from the voices of John Cleese, Mr T, Yoda or Darth Vadar are genius. Rather than labour over the technological improvements in the mapping accuracy, which is already a 1000%  better than me reading the map, adding the voice increases the fun threshold to warp factor 10. And as soon as you get bored you can change to new voice.  In fact, Brian Blessed is the latest voice to be immortalised – Gordon’s alive!

Challenge Pizza Hut

Ipizzhut came across this example through twitter so have pieced the story together. But as I can make out when ordering there is a ‘any special requests’ section taken at the end of the order. Typically the response is ‘please hold the onion’ or ‘double anchovy’, but the customer has thrown in a cheeky ‘draw a dinosaur on the box’ request and rather than tell the customer to take a jump, the Pizza Hut staff have risen to the challenge and made a boring space very fun. It begs the question what else can you do with the inside of a take away box!

Grow your money trees

Umpqua could have a whole blog on fun experience all to themselves. Where others are moving from retail banking to mobile banking they are opening more stores. And according to Barclay’s analysts’ it’s not just a community play, it’s a commercially sound model. The Economist reported, “Barclays predicts by the end of next year, Umpqua’s return on equity will be 14%, far above the average”.

umpqua

They do things differently. For examples here is a plant on a customer’s door step. That may be what it looks like to you and I but this is actually a loan mailing. I’m sure you can get the creative reference link to growth, but you may have got the fact that what is normally a dry comms piece is made memorable and fun. And guess what it outperforms any other loan mailing stats you’ve ever seen!

Beep. Beep. Making shopping more fun for Mums

 tescocarToy cars in supermarket are not new. In fact they’ve been with us for a few years now having been introduced by Tesco in 2007. But go back to that moment when someone said, ‘I know stick a toy car to the trolley’. After a ‘Are you insane!’ was first fired back the visionary commercialist (also known as the customer experience manager) would have said, ‘hang on there is something in this. Anxious Mum’s buy less. Mum’s get anxious because of bored kids. Bored kids love driving toy cars. Toy cars would fit to a shopping trolley’ at which point everyone’s proverbial penny would have dropped. It was brilliant then and it always will be brilliant. And it’s less to fund than a crèche!

And the overall winner in the CX fun category is…

My favourite examples of fun in customer experience are those like the Tesco example above where fun has been used to take away anxiety or a negative behaviour. It’s a movement in its own right and if you are interested take a look at the VW Fun Factory examples.

But to finish my favourite example of improved customer experience is actually from real life. It’s the toddler eating journey that parents go through daily. It makes business challenges look like a walk in the park when it goes wrong! Getting small children, who are very good at manipulating broken processes, to eat when they want to play is a real challenge. But this fun idea is very successful and has probably been around since toddlers first needed feeding, but the ingenuity of it is still stunning.

mums

Put into a corporate context, ‘fun food’ versus ‘as it comes food’ – the outcome is exactly the same food gets eaten so why do it. But with fun food there are three huge advantages:

  1. More produce (toddler’s food) is consumed with fewer issues (tantrums) reducing time and effort spent on getting the customer complaints (toddler pacified).
  2. The customer (toddler) engages in the process (dinner time) willingly prepared to be distracted from the other more enjoyable daily tasks (toys and TV).
  3. The front line staff member (Mum) is more productive because there is less effort needed (feeding & remaking thrown food) and satisfied because the labours have been appreciated (feel like a good parent for a moment).

If you want some new inspiring creators of fun customer experience recruit a group of Mums with toddlers (left at home). They are world class fun CX practioners.

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 

How M.A.D. is your Customer Experience?

cx model

Is the ROI on your customer experience living up to its potential?

In our experience many CX programmes full short of what they should deliver largely because of the structure of the programme.  They end up Maintaining an acceptable customer experience or only occasionally delivering a real Advantage to customers and the business  but rarely achieving the ultimate ambition of reinforcing the Differentiation of the brand (or M.A.D. CX for short).

What does your CX working world look like?

If you find yourself knee deep in root cause analysis, customer mapping yet another page of exceptions, struggling to get MI produced at touch point level or explaining to the board why NPS has plateaued whilst CX investment has increased, then you are know your are a customer experience practioner.

But if this sounds familiar it may mean your customer experience programme has become more about maintaining a level of acceptable customer experience rather than striving for reinforcing brand differentiation.

Despite the business investing the resource, communicating the importance of customer centricity internally, delivering dozens of cost and time saving experience improvements and celebrating NPS increases, many CX programmes are not actually getting past ‘Level 1 – Maintain‘.

It’s reinforced by customers who believe only 8% of companies deliver a great customer experience whilst 80% of companies believe they do.

With this in mind, we’ve made it our mission to help brands revisit their approach and achieve the optimum potential of their CX endeavours.

At Lexden we’ve developed an independent check-point Customer Experience Effectiveness Audit to help brands committed to customers to understand where they are, how they got there, how much more they could achieve from CX and how to get on track to realise this.

We call it our M.A.D. CX Audit. It covers:

  • Identify which level your CX is at now and what’s keeping you there
  • Understand the business environment CX is operating in and the governance surrounding it
  • Identify how your employee’s and customer’s value your customer experience activities
  • Assess the commercial impact of customer experience improvements to date
  • Identify your journey comparative to your competitors, your senior stakeholders and your customer’s expectations
  • Identify the optimum level for customer experience within the organisation
  • Highlight activities requiring realignment (people, planning, partners, process, culture) to effectively support revised optimum level potential

It’s the perfect ‘light touch, high impact’ review to ensure your CX programme achieves the maximum ROI.

Or for more details of the service, please click here.

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.     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.

Have customers finally found their voice?

According to a customer channel report from Fisher Hedges, when it comes to customers having a voice, over 2/3rds believe social media is a channel which allows them to really get their voice heard, ahead of the call centre.

The report also highlights that consumers, of all ages, are turning to this channel to report gripes and steep praise. Having read the report on Friday, I considered where I might find examples to back this up. I only needed to wait until I had a conversation with my stepfather on Sunday. He gifted me two ideal examples, illustrating the point that social media is a more powerful channel than others when it comes to getting a business to take action on behalf of the consumer.

Tesco – Socially Responsive

My stepfather replayed to me how Tesco responded brilliantly to his recent concern that there is collusion in petrol pricing from town to town. He’d noticed that the petrol where he lives is 5p more expensive than that in the next town.

petrol

He picked on Tesco, because he found their two stations and could compare the prices. He sent a message socially on the subject to Tesco. Within 15 minutes this resulted in a phone call from Tesco (on a Saturday night) about the issue. The Tesco rep explained the reason was driven by competition at a local level. Unhappy with the response he requested a more senior investigation. By Tuesday he’d received a letter with more a detailed explanation of the point from a senior rep. During our conversation his focus shifted from the petrol issue to how amazed he was at the speed and the personalisation of the response after his social bark. Tesco definitely went up in his estimation. And although he didn’t mention it to me, they’d managed to make his public display private.

As an aside, I found a website called http://www.petrolprices.com/ where you can make you own comparisons. I found the variance between petrol prices in our town and the next, four miles away, is actually 7p on petrol and 5p on diesel. It pays to drive around!

Everyone Active (except the customer experience team)

My stepfather also mentioned an on-going issue he is having with Everyone Active (the gym company who manage local government facilities). They seem to let their customers down at every conceivable point. From broken disabled shower facilities, to taking money from customers for a public swim when the pool is booked for a private session, the list goes on…

He attends two or three times a week, so a social media rant would seem unnecessary when he can speak to them face-to-face. As a voice of one, with no one listening in, he tells them of the problems each time he uses the facilities. But the conversation is always the same…

  • He lists the problems still outstanding.
  • Their initial response is: ‘we know’.
  • When challenged as to what they will do about it, the response is: ‘the person who does that is back tomorrow. We will tell them’.
  • When challenged with the comment that it needs immediate attention, the more senior response is: ‘we know that needs fixing. Rest assured we will get on to it very soon’.

But like a scene from Groundhog Day, the problem is there when he returns each time and so the conversation begins again.

It shows the power of customer voice where people are listening versus an intimate conversation. Even though from the brand’s perspective, the intimate conversation is more considerate to them. BT Care get this…

btcare

BT – Social Care 

I’m a big fan of straight talking Warren Buckley of BT Care. I’ve seen him speak using a live twitter feed playing behind him. Brave – he informs the audience what’s happening and why on screen, while explaining that social media is the customer service tool at BT Care. He understands why social media has become more important, as he states: “One person with no ‘followers’ can very quickly become 10,000 people”.

All of which gives credibility to the change I believe will come as analysts find their feet with ‘big data’ – a shift from valuing customers based on their commercial contribution to their ‘Brand Impact’ (BI = combination of social media reach, impact of message, advocacy and contribution).

Klout already allows individuals to see the value of their ‘social voice’ online. Whilst I mighkloutt argue that the algorithms are not yet sophisticated enough, I can’t deny the concept is a strong and interesting one.

Appending BI scores to customer segments would change the way brands engage with customers altogether. It’s still an unordinary thought, but one I see getting more airtime as social media becomes more mainstream. If brands move to appending BI scores, social media will be encouraged as a primary means by which customers can interact with them. In turn that will evolve our definition of what social media is. And so on.

What I have learnt

The key take out for me is that the complainant has found a way to jump the queue as social media, as a means to gripe, grows in popularity. So brands and businesses must learn how to manage the impact and coordinate responses across their channels. For further clues on how to do this see Warren Buckley speak, follow @BTCare, or have a chat with my stepfather when he’s not having his say socially.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business strategy.

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers. We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter.

For a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

Which customer contact matters the most? Our findings…

PollThank you to those who participated in our poll to find out which customer touchpoints have the most impact on customer experience. With over 50 practitioners voting, we have some interesting results.

The feeling is that almost 60% of customer experience can be assigned to just four interaction moments. And not one voter believes that sponsorship has any bearing or impact on customer experience.

 

In priority order, practitioners highlighted the following as the most important interactions:

  1. Call centre (inbound enquiries/complaints)
  2. Customer review sites
  3. Website
  4. Scandal in PR

The call centre may be obvious and may explain why some companies mistakenly let customer service own customer experience, which can limit the breadth of customer experience improvements to the web and call centre.

The second vote here interests me. I have visited two clients in the last couple of weeks who admit to missing this particular touch point in their customer journey mapping activity. Since the adoption of the internet as a shopping tool, we have known consumers stray from the AIDCA model we grew up on, so we need to ensure our customer journey mapping is less linear too.

Thanks again to all who voted. More topics to follow shortly.

Posted by Christopher Brooks.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business strategy.

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers. We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ Lexden newsletter.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on T: +44 (0) 7968 316548.  And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

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

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

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

happy

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

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

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

Policy before people at Wagamama

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

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

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

cod cubes 2

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

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

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

The gold medal goes to Leeds Castle

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

leeds castle

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

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

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

Leeds Castle 5 Wagamama 0

Posted by Christopher Brooks

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

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Who we work with…clients mar 2013

Unordinary Thinking No. 25 – Darning socks

Sewing is not something I have ever given much thought to.  That is until I read a really nice story about sewing machines (which, I might add, is not something I normally do either), which illustrates the idea of unordinary perfectly.

Jo-Ann Fabrics, a retailer in the craft and fabric space, wanted to sell more sewing machines.  Presumably this is no different to any of their competitors or, indeed, any organisation. After all, when in business is it not about selling more things to more customers more frequently?

Where Jo-Ann Fabrics approached things differently to others in in a simple premise: they actively pursued a strategy to understand their customers and what would work for them.  Now, don’t just skip over that last sentence.  Read it again.  It is definitely unordinary for an organisation to pursue active strategies and tactics to get under the skin of what their customers do and what motivates them.  Most organisations talk about it; very, very few do something about it.  The important point is to know how simple it can be to do.

Jo-Ann Fabrics used their website as a mechanism to understand what would appeal to their customers.  They did this by making the website a test and learn laboratory whereby different customers would automatically and randomly be shown different offers, website designs and tone of voice.  They looked at what customers actually did, rather than what they said they might do in a focus group.  From this, and following through to which customers purchased (or did not), they were able to gain insight about which overall propositions were most successful.  This, in turn, enabled them to think deeply about what was motivating their customers in order to hone how they communicated with them.

This led to quite a surprising offer for customers.  A deal which, on the face of it, sounds pretty dull and not very good:  Buy one sewing machine and get a second one at 20% off.  However this deal was successful-and not just in selling more machines.

But why? Well, at some level, customers evidently found the prospect of saving 20% on a second sewing machine worth having. However, generally, customers are not going to want two sewing machines and 20% is not exactly an awe inspiring discount.  The point is the offer acted as a catalyst for these customers to talk to friends, relatives and colleagues, any of whom may or may not have been in the market for a sewing machine.  It is no different to the classic ‘member get member’ schemes which you see in all sorts of industry but are often not very successful (certainly the ones I have seen in banks).  So why was this one successful?

I think it comes back to customers’ more deep seated reasons for pursuing a hobby such as sewing.  Making curtains or repairing clothes fits very much in a nurturing emotional space for people.  It relates back to the ‘gatherer’ role of our prehistory and because this is so deep rooted in our psyches, connects at a far more emotional level than the pure rationality of ‘20% off’.  What this means is that people really want to connect with others around this type of activity.  They want to share with others what they get out of it and they want others to (emotionally) benefit in the same way that they do.  It’s why you see sewing classes and clubs.  At Lexden, we have repeatedly seen with certain audience types that craftsmanship, in the form of activities like sewing, often has a significant place in their lives.  And these people often interact very closely, and have strong influence, with others who hold similar values to themselves-a lot more so than for other audiences.

When you know the above, deciding how to communicate with these people in a way that will resonate with them is much simpler.  It will just ‘feel right’ to them.  So when Jo-Ann Fabrics put this understanding together with an offer they had already observed working, the commercial benefits were multiple.  They had people finding time in their busy lives to have conversations about Jo-Ann Fabrics and about their sewing machines.  They had multiple amateur salespeople closing deals for more products.  They tapped into a pool of brand new seamsters who may not have even realised they wanted to have a sewing machine.  They have converts who will come back to buy more fabric, buttons and cotton thread (okay, so this is where my desire to know about sewing starts to diminish).

Looking at customers from a different startpoint, in order to get to a different result.  Incorporating a deep seated understanding of what makes customers tick.  An obvious and simple solution (in hindsight).  All stitched (sorry) together to give multiple benefits to the organisation.  Pretty unordinary.

Posted by Ajai Ranawat

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.

Unordinary Thinking No. 23 Teaching old markets new tricks

One of the great things about working in Proposition Development at Lexden is that we get to work with a lot of new technologies, explore innovations coming into market and talk to the entrepreneurs involved in these creations. Whether that’s mobile payments, telematics or smart metering it’s always fascinating. We also appreciate that because we work across sectors and borders, we are in a privileged position. We get to be at the leading edge more often than many of those who initiate new ideas and the clients who look for them as solutions to their burning platforms.

The pattern I noticed even in our body of work is the popularity of the technology themes. Commerce is obsessed it seems. That’s good news for us because less than 0.5% people buy technology. Like everything consumer’s buy, it’s because it fulfils one emotional state or another.

And clients value our ability to humanise the emotional benefits of a technological advancement adopted by a brand for its customers. But even we can’t escape a lot of the time a technology is involved in part of, or is the solution to our proposition work. But in a world where Apple, Microsoft, Google and IBM are the best global brands, should I be suprised?

So when we come across a story where an advancement is being made which doesn’t leverage technology, it stands out. And when it’s a passion/need motivated start up taking on some of the biggest brands in an established market…and turning heads, we knew it must be subscribing to the Unordinary approach we preach. We were right, so explored some more.

Friends Vicky Marshall & Jonathan Self were looking for an alternative to processed dog foods. They were new dog owners and alarmed by the stories associated with processed dog food. Ranging from skin infections from ticks in the wheat to plaque in dry foods causing tooth decay. The more they read the more they discovered, such as claimed links between processed food and behavioural problems in dogs and even associations with cancer. They were convinced they would find a better way.

They discovered ‘fresh food’ diets. But it’s not part of the major pet food manufacturers’ product portfolio, so isn’t well known. Even rarer than a vet who would say feeding raw was bad for a dog (after all how did dogs survive before processed tins arrived!), was finding a company that provided raw food for dogs and supporting diet plans to help owners. Supported by a local vet they (and here’s the unordinary bit), without anything more than a belief and desire to do better for their dogs, created a company to produce and distribute Raw Food diets. Darling’s Real Dog Food (which has become Honey’s Real Dog Food) was born. With a new dog each but beyond this no credentials, (Vicky and Jonathan are financial services marketing heavyweights) they knew the learning curve would be steep. But they backed themselves and took the leap.

Armed with a vision for healthier pets and a few recipes Vicky headed off to the local farmer to buy a cow. The farmer explained he was used to the cast off cuts going towards dog food, not prime cuts. These off cuts would be treated and processed before a dog saw them. Vicky and Jonathan heard all they needed to know they could provide a real alternative. And so, with a few years experience under their belts now (and some amusing tales), what was a desire to help their own dogs live healthier lives has become a business involving more than 20 people.

And when you read and see how they approach their work you realise here is a company truly dedicated to its stakeholders: pets and their owners.

Honey’s Manifesto for Success

1. Honey’s will assess every dog individually and tailor a food plan for them (with one woman this meant plans for all 8 dogs!)

2. The food plans contain approximately two-thirds raw meat and ground bone and one-third grated raw vegetables – prepared daily on their premises

3. If a customer wants to take the responsibility of sourcing their own food, Honey’s are happy enough because they have another dog converted to Raw food plans even if not the order

4. Honey’s have no waste products because it’s all quality cuts of meat and they use the bone

5. Everything is 100% organic, locally sourced and farm assured

6. The planning and first week’s food plan are free, so that owners can trial the difference before committing

7. Honey’s supports dog rescue shelters that reach out to them

And are they making a difference at Honey’s?

Absolutely. The raw food is providing a better more healthier option for dogs on the plan, which in turn is making owners feel better about their canine parenting skills. The lady with the 8 dogs (mentioned above) has found that after 6 months the savings on her vet bills significantly outweigh the cost of going raw. Vicky has spoken on BBC Radio London’s ‘Barking at the Moon’ dog programme and has been inundated with follow ups from dog owners thanking Honey’s for improving the weight, the life expectancy and the behaviour of their dogs.

They also now exhibit at Crufts. Vicky recalls that at their first turn out people were saying, ‘what’s this?’ and at the most recent event people were saying, ‘I’ve heard about this. I must switch over’. Coupled with the book, the website, a team of converted influential dog owners spreading the word and a growing number of vets giving the thumbs up, things are moving along nicely.

And with requests from wholesalers to go mainstream (which they won’t because it dilutes the quality), they know they are heading in the right direction.

In fact, when I spoke to Vicky she felt that from a marketing perspective (Vicky was a former senior marketer at Nationwide) this may have been her most successful ‘prospect to new customer acquisition’ and ‘customer retention’ experience so far!

In a billion pound market with clear leaders, it’s great to see a new entrant with a different offer. So the skills Vicky and Jonathan ascertained in their respective marketing roles which taught them to stick by the customer with a differentiated and meaningful offer, have come good. In a market as far removed from financial services as imaginable.

If Honey’s Real Dog Food is anything to go by perhaps you can teach an old dog industry a new trick or two, after all!

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 or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.