Tag Archives: travel

The communication weak spot in customer experience

Whilst marketing communications is just one of the ways Customer Experience can be demonstrated, it is often overlooked and the impact it has on customers not fully appreciated. There is little excuse for not getting customer experience right when it comes to communications, especially with the information feed from the CRM system and the ability of the data experts to translate it into meaningful insight.

In this blog we bring you two examples highlighting the impact on CX when communications aren’t aligned.

cx delivery channels The challenge for the customer experience, data analysts and communication teams should be figuring out how to make the communications a brand differentiating experience. In order to achieve this all aspects of the experience (of which communications is a very visible one to customers) must be beautifully aligned and complimentary to achieving a defined customer experience vision.

But let’s get real. Let’s get back to a world where the promotional communications are sent when customers don’t expect, need or want them. A world where products and services are released promising betterment but fall short or fail to even use communications effectively to get past shortfalls.

Typically these ‘glitches’ occur because of a poorly integrated communication strategy. Getting it right isn’t that challenging if everyone has ‘customer’ central to their planning.

Here are our suggestions on how to align communications with customer experience:

1. Make sure you communicate ‘what matters most to your customers’, in a format they prefer to consume, rather than what matters most to you through your most commercially efficient communication channel.

2. Make sure you know where your customer is in the buying process (easier for B2B to achieve, but equally important to D2C and B2B2C).

3. Only launch propositions, products and offers when they are adding meaningful value to customers by taking them forward in their lives. Otherwise expect your PR resource to be spent compensating for your brands lack of customer understanding.

Stick to these when devising communication plans and it will ensure customer experience and communication budget isn’t wasted nor brand equity eroded.  With this is mind we bring you two recent examples demonstrating what happens when you ignore this advice.

The airport emails that lets the customer experience down

Sending the wrong message during the customer relationship leaves the customer feeling confused; ‘I thought you knew me, but this proves you don’t’. This example from Stansted Airport landed in my inbox. It told me I could fly from Stansted to hundreds of destinations. I knew that – I was actually away on holiday at the time having used Stansted Airport in the previous week to travel to my destination and returning there in a few days. So there was a good chance I’d seen the array of destinations on the departure and arrival boards or through various websites when I’d been checking out flight options.

stansted2The shame of this poorly timed email is that at the time of travel, my wife and I had commented when we travelled how relaxing Stansted Airport was compared to some airports. We went as far to say they really understand how to look after their passengers when they travel.

The email diminished that positive feeling created from the customer experience. To make matters worse when I sent a note to the sender explaining the situation to help them with their communication planning, I received a new communication offering car parking discounts. I only live 15 minutes away.

It highlights unless the communication planning is aligned the investment in customer experience will be wasted and returns fall short of expectations.

The Box which isn’t fit for purpose

Who doesn’t like to relax and listen to music on holiday? Me and my family do. The advertising for Blink Box Music had caught my attention and the customer reviews hadn’t put me off. I decided to trial the free option with the intention of a subscription if it worked out. I created a small library of tracks which took about an hour so we were set. Most importantly I was able to cross something off the holiday list much to my wife’s surprise and gratitude.

Fast forward to the holiday in France. Day one and I opened up Blink Box full of anticipation. Instead of the fruits of my invested time I was greeted with this message.

blinkbox3 #disappointing

The message itself is jovial enough, but because it hasn’t been made clear when I set up the account, it wasn’t the right tone of empathy. I also was on holiday and not living in France which did frustrate me because I’d input my home details to activate the account so BlinkBox know I’m not living abroad.

I checked and buried as Point 17 in the T&C’s, there is reference to territorial coverage. If earlier in the experience BlinkBox had posed, ‘how are you intending to use BlinkBox?’ it would have saved time and effort, ensured my expectations were managed and kept the reputation of the business for me, in tact.

However, the anticipation and experience of the service as an alternative to itunes, is undermined by not presenting the ‘limitations’ up front. Which is why knowing ‘what matters most’ to your customers and fulfilling these criteria is critical in communications for brands which embark upon customer experience as a differentiation.

Tesco as a brand does has a ‘customer first. Profits follow’ philosophy. These are classic growing pains of bestowing values to sub-brands, but as much as they may hope it wont, it does impact consumer perceptions of the mother brand and suggests that the brand has over stretched this time.

Keep communications in line if you hope to exploit customer experience fully

For customer experience to be employed as an asset and a differentiating advantage, all parts of the business must be aligned and follow the CX strategy. Communications, like Customer Service and Complaints have always had a closer relationship with the customer than others, so will be the most challenging areas to get to fall in line.

But without their alignment, investment into customer experience and customer propositions to create advantage instead of relying on price will always be compromised. Sadly the FD wont see or care about this when reviewing the overall return of a CX strategy investment. Either get all communications aligned or run the risk of CX being ditched as ineffective in favour of the less sustainable pricing approach once more.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Strategy Consultant

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | 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 (0)7968 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris.

Advertisements

The Best of a Marketer’s Diary (May 2012)

In April we completed our first year of Marketers Diary posts. So we owe you a 2011/2012 end of year results post. This will follow later this month billed as The Marketers 2011/2012 Diary Awards. We will also be bringing you our Jubilee brand bandwagon post observations.

But for now, in time honoured tradition, we’ve stuck with picking our favourite marketing communications from the best brand activation examples out there from May 2012. Or as Ricky Martin might put it the Thor amongst the lesser competitors in the process.

This month we have seen the poster sites and TV screens blasted with a mish-mash of Jubilee, Olympic and Euro 2012 event leveraging ads. Some good, some bad, some just on a different (weird rather than wired) planet. It has almost felt that to not be topical, is to stand out at the moment! So with commendations to Direct Line, Emirates and City of Westminster who didn’t quite make the grade this month, we bring you the winners.

Best Campaign Idea – Wed 2nd May – Stella Cidre

First we had, ‘it’s not cider, it’s cidre’ and now we have, ‘into a chalice, not a glass’. So we move from an execution to a campaign. Nice work agency suit for turning one-off into a campaign with legs (or perhaps it was always meant to be). And congrats to planners and creative too for finding more content to make interesting within campaign theme. Although you might get stuck on ‘bar’ and ‘beer mat’ doesn’t have the glamour that glace commands. This whole package is just popcorn perfect and is doing a brilliant job in detaching the provincial perception of stella with this chic offer. Great all over. Not that I’m a cidre drinker – but I may just be tempted. and then art direction creates a great european art film effect too, adding to the romantic allure.

Best Brand Activation – Wednesday 9th May – P&G

This looks like a very interesting brand activation campaign. And one where I can look at the streets of London to see whether it has had impact – because they should be cleaner. On paper (or rather at the ad agency SPARK session), this idea looks like a perfect leverage of the Olympic sponsorship by P&G….let’s see how it works out in reality – hopefully it lives up to its promise and is more than just extra litter on the streets for the PGCapitalCleanup team to manage. I am sure it will. And will probably sign up myself to experience how it all works….and do my bit.

Best demonstration of an App in print – Thu 24th May – Halifax

This Halifax ad caught my eye initially because it didn’t have a member of staff in it! And then I realised it couldn’t as it’s a remote service. That must have been an interesting ‘brand identity police’ discussion because they are a brand you think about for their personal service, and personal has always meant ‘people’ to them.

But what I really liked about the ad was it’s simplicity, which will undoubtedly have a high perceived value to those in the market shopping for a new home (sadly a segment only slightly larger than The Eldorada Fan Club currently). But as a brand ‘innovator’ and a ‘we do mortgages’ message it stands out. Good work. Most are focusing on the technological wow of smartphone capability, especially in FS. The winners here will be those that move from technological to psychological propositions – because whether its tech or not, that’s what always gets consumers engagement.

I hope you’ve seen these ads and they caught your eye too. And if you haven’t I hope you see sense in our wildly inferred interpretations.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Founder Lexden

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.

Best of ‘A Marketer’s Diary’ (January 2012)

The Marketer’s Diary looks to find and capture one memorable marketing communication each day from the hundreds we supposedly consume.

And 2012 starts with a bang in the marketing communication stakes. Less reliance on ‘new years resolution’ than normal and even less future planning (summer holidays) than previous years too.

I found some great communication executions and placements this month with work from the four contenders featured below and worthy mentions for Tesco Bank, Lurpak and enjoyEngland. 

BEST ART DIRECTION

Tuesday 10th Jan – The Science Museum

Great poster – very striking. And because it’s an exhibition on small every day objects that have been so important in our lives, it’s very smart to achieve the same effect through the design. Where ever I’ve been in London recently, as soon as I’ve seen this shape, I knew what it was promoting.

BEST MEDIA PLACEMENT

Friday 27th January – Madagascar 3

When you are half way up the mountain and about to get on a ski lift, you dont expect to see a lion, a giraffe and a hippo. But that’s exactly what did hit me with this brilliantly media placed poster for Madagascar 3. I noted I must take my 5 year old to see this, even though I was away with the chaps. I think I was probably their primary target audience because of that too.

BEST TV PRODUCTION

Sunday 1st January – Weightwatchers

This ad proves the execution can live up to the concept. Brilliant production. And with a cast of hundreds of ‘brand demonstrators’ too. Every one of the women (and one man) in the ad have used this platform to demonstrate how confidence returns when you feel good about yourself. And because there are so many people celebrating their achievement, if you are considering Weight Watchers it creates a healthy perception that so many actually achieve, as opposed to one or two as normally portrayed in the weight loss ad genre. It also celebrates the ‘after’ and steers clear of the before comparison – breaking another rule of the category. And finally a new track from Alesha Dixon is an inspired ‘role model’ choice. Buzzy track (not memorable, but very relevant) which adds stature (in an offbeat way) to Weight Watchers brand. Love it. Even though a number of commentators have had a pop at this one, it still works for me.

BEST EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT COMMUNICATION

Sunday 8th Jan – Clarks shoes

Magic moment for me – this is my youngest’s first pair of shoes. And Clarks mark it with a memory pack, which is very sweet. And as my 2nd is now 5 and a half and has (with the exception of a pair of football boots) only ever worn Clarks, it’s more than a little sweet; it’s connected me and my wife’s happiness to their brand.

Running since May 2011, to view the full diary with over 200 marketing communication examples and write ups and over 4,000 views, visit the flickr page at http://bit.ly/mArsPV

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.

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.

Unordinary Thinking No.7 – Citizen M

The great thing about unordinary thinking is that it rarely is predictable or consistent. So you don’t know when you will encounter genius. However, when you do, you know it.

I stay in a number of hotels each month so am happy to stay in the less conventional business hotels. I find the conventional hotels too automated in their strive for service excellence. I like variety and spontaneity.

So when I was booked in to Citizen M in Glasgow I had no preconceptions.

Although the low £69 a night, including breakfast price tag, did signal a very small alarm bell in my head.

The décor looked modern and attractive. And then I started to observe a few oddities from the normal arrival and settling in experience I go through:

  • There’s no reception,
  • Staff wear black,
  • The building is full of bright Perspex and plastic on the inside but is a black box on the outside.

And when I got to my room it was compact. But when I asked if I could upgrade I was told every room in every hotel is the same. So I returned and hung my clothes in the same space as my bed, my sink, my shower, my TV and my desk. All of which was approximately 2m x 4m x 3m.

But within about 30 minutes of being there I started to get it…

The ‘minimalistic’ approach I had witnessed in the room was reversed in the public space; there were copious numbers of break out lounge areas with Ligne Rosset style furniture, there were shelves of pop art and nude impressionist works, there were eight Macs for business use, blossom trees in the TV area, Earl Grey tea served in silk purses, Café del Mar music and many Alessi practical sculptures scattered across the hotel.

And on taking a closer look at the detail in my room the walk in shower (which was in the room, not off it) had lighting which changed colour, my TV movies were free and there were inspirational messages on all my complimentary toiletries.

And at breakfast not only were Innocent drinks on the menu, but the staff (who also fixed my colleague’s safe, checked us in and helped us set up on the macs earlier) was now the chef and asked us what we thought of her new muffin recipe and should she keep it? We found out everyone is empowered to do everything.

And as I was finding out, their attention to detail was in the areas that really mattered, whilst the places they had compromised (such as big rooms and reception) were actually not important. The only reason I’d decided they were important was because market convention had led me there. Citizen M has decided to change the rules and by doing so has potentially changed the hotel selection criteria.

What they had done here is take a step back from the whole hotel experience and asked ‘what is it that guests really want from a hotel when they are city exploring?’

And they had focussed on making the aspects more important to their clientele the best they can be. Which as the price tag shows, can be more distinctive and more of an experience than the expensive alternative of designing a conventional hotel. Inspirational.

I ended up taking more photographs of this set up than I have of any other hotel I’ve stayed in.

I was so intrigued that I asked a member of staff about the thinking behind it. He explained that empowerment is a key value of the brand.

A brand which they spend a number of days understanding before they are allowed to start in the hotel.

The smart people of Citizen M have applied unordinary thinking too. They’ve achieved so much more by taking a step back and understanding what is really important for a great stay, rather than listening to conventional criteria or attempting to improve on the competition.

By doing so they have designed a hotel which has more of what customers want and less of what they don’t need.

Citizen M contacted me when I first posted this and I am reassured to say my observations and interpretation of their strategy was correct. I did promise them a batch of pics I took (more than I took of the Wynn in Vegas, or the Elms in Worcestershire – personal fav’s), so I will do this.

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.


Best of ‘A Marketers Diary’ (November 2011)

Each day we are bombarded by thousands of advertising messages. But just how many of them do we actually consume? We decided to collect just one example of a communication every day and explain why it had caught our attention.

The full set are available on flickr (consultingchris), but each month we will showcase our favourite pieces; most engaging communication, most compelling idea and best media placement. Here are November’s offerings for your consideration.

BEST MEDIA PLACEMENT

Monday 7th November 2011 – Network Rail

This is a safety ad at Victoria station from Network Rail. I really liked the briefcase and wallet detail which softens the ‘white outline’. Having spent time in Turkey I saw how you make ambient and outdoor work really well. The UK lacks creativity in this space. Or maybe it’s health & safety restrictions!

MOST ENGAGING COMMUNICATION

Tuesday 15th November 2011 – Volkswagen

Lovely piece of comms from VW. As a previous owner of 3 different soft tops, it caught my imagination and reminded me of racing around in my Spider and how much I miss it. I’ve got a feeling, thanks to Instagram 1974, we are going to see many 70’s styled shots in ads as well over the next year or so.

MOST COMPELLING IDEA

Tue  29th November 2011 – Innocent

This idea came out last year, and I am glad to see it back on the shelves at Boots. I can never quite get over the price barrier of an Innocent smoothie but as these have a charity donation and you get a free egg cosy, why not. They remind me (and I hope I am not alone here) of the Flumps from children’s TV in the 80’s. Great idea and the most unique way I have ever seen for a drink to achieve stand out on the shelf.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director Lexden.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions which motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands. To discuss how our approach can help you with your burning platforms, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123, M: +44 (0)7968 316548. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No.5 – Outsmarting technology. A Thai bellboy’s approach

You know that feeling when you lose an arm? Or do I actually mean lose your iphone, cannot access email or do not have your computer systems working for 20 minutes? Feelings of helplessness, panic and being a bit lost are not uncommon.

All our software, systems and mobile phones enable us to work more productively, generate improved solutions and treat customers better (presumably). But does the technology make us lazy in our thinking and blind to simpler, better solutions?

Consider the following. A friend who works in Hong Kong recently told me this story.

Last year he returned back on business to a hotel in Bangkok which he had previously visited on holiday three years earlier. Getting out of his taxi, he was warmly welcomed by a uniformed chap at the entrance to the lobby who offered to take his bag and engaged in the usual bit of hotel chit chat.

He approached the front desk to be greeted by one of the beautifully presented hotel receptionists. “Welcome back, sir-it’s so nice to have you staying with us again”. He was a bit surprised. He tried to get a quick look at her computer screen to see what kind of customer management system she was using. He cast his mind back to how he had booked the hotel (his secretary had arranged it over the internet) and what information he might have given which would have enabled her to welcome him as she had. He was genuinely puzzled since he could not recall providing anything which would have helped her.

So he asked. Evidently, she was at first a bit coy in that very Thai way, but my friend was insistent and she cracked. She pointed over to the man who had previously carried his bag and who was now greeting another guest. “Watch what he does when he comes over to us with this lady”. My friend did not notice anything in particular. Seeing his blank face, she explained: “The first question he asks a guest is ‘is this your first visit to us here?’ If it is, he carries the guest’s bag in his left hand, if they are returning it’s his right hand. I just look out.”

This is currently one of our favourite stories of unordinary thinking. Does anyone have something which beats it? We would love to hear about it.

Posted by Ajai Ranawat, Lexden.

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.