Tag Archives: Unordinary thinking

Unordinary Thinking No. 46 – keep the lights on when everyone’s left the building

Offices, banks, shops, libraries and sports halls all have one thing in common; when they’ve served their intended purpose and visitors leave, the shift ends, the lights are switched off and the doors are locked. This is typical practice and environmentally sound in most cases too. But could an equally important contribution to society be made if you keep the premise open even when you’ve headed home?

Applying this unordinary thought in a very ordinary way means letting others make more of what you’ve got. Read on to discover three very different examples of what can be achieved when you think beyond the end of your shift.

Be upstanding please

emily barker2Okay, so churches don’t actually shut but the venue can wind down when the parishioners are not in attendance. Or do they? A couple of weeks ago I was watching one of my favourite bands; Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo. It was an emotional night being one of the last gigs for the North American folk sounding band before they split. The ticket stated the venue was on 197 Piccadilly, London. I couldn’t recall a concert hall there. When I arrived I discovered it was in fact St James’s Church, Piccadilly. Their music is not religiously intended and their subjects cross a boundary that some regular parishioners may feel at odds with. But as a venue with atmospheric up-lighting and acoustics bouncing around the dome, for the 400 of us jammed it came alive.

I spoke to a couple of the volunteers who explained this is an idea for raising funds beyond the conventional approach. Their venue has dwindling audiences and is expensive to upkeep. Where as bands have a great following prepared to pay handsomely to see them. By leaving the lights on, the Church attracts a new paying audience and the band has a memorable venue to play in.

Taking a rain check on skateboarding

Earlier this year I watched Ida Auken, the former Minister for the Environment in Denmark, impressively present at TEDx Houses of Parliament. She recalled a great example of a project she was involved in regarding optimising neglected space in Denmark. The area of Roskilde suffered from increasing levels of rainwater causing flooding to the neighbouring towns. But rather than a standard drainage project being commissioned, Danish architect Soren Nordal Enevoldsen, famed for skateparks, was invited to tackle the problem.

skate park2Enevoldsen and his company, Nordarch, designed a concrete area with graduating slopes that collected and transported the water into a canal. They also ingeniously transformed the 24,000-square-foot drainage facility from a potential public infrastructure eyesore into a multi-functional recreation area by shaping the water collecting bowls with half-pipes and grinding edges for skateboarding. Now the Rabalder Park project has become a gathering place for both rainwater and skateboarding enthusiasts.

The odd couple: banking & yoga

Umpqua Bank has 364 branches spread across Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Idaho and it’s growing. They are bucking the trend of retail banking by profitably opening branches when others are heading for a digital relationship. That’s not the area  of unordinary thinking they apply.

yoga umpquaFor instance they open their doors when the branch stops its regular trading. Along with yoga they organise virtual bowling on the big screens for seniors, art exhibitions and even ‘stitch and bitch’ sessions for local resident groups. These out-of-hours sessions are helping them to connect with their customers and prospects beyond banking. It’s also giving those attending an opportunity to see their bank is as much a part of the community as they are. Will it catch on? With $22 billion in assets to date, perhaps truly customer-led thinking is a strategy more banks should consider.

So the next time you are about to clock off and leave your work place, have an unordinary consideration about who else could be optimising your space when you are not there. It might just be the making of your business.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director

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 please sign-up to ‘Putting Customers First’  for fresh insights. 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 

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Has digital figured out how to improve high street customer experience?

Time, our most precious commodity. And lunch hour even more so.

So, isn’t it great when brands takes this into consideration and use technology to reduce effort and improve the convenience of the experience rather than just employ it to save costs.

And even rarer when the designers and the technologists work together to enhance the aesthetics and with the perceptions of the brand at the same. This perfect collision of world can deliver a better experience and reaffirm the differentiation of the brand. This drives a greater ROI from CX than the typical ‘preservation’ approach digital often is employed to provide. (migrate customer from one costly channel to a less costly channel)

To understand how to measure if your CX strategy is ‘maintaining’ a basic level (often at a low ROI) or ‘differentiating’ at a superior level (and delivering a higher ROI) email us for a copy of Lexden’s ‘MAD CX’ Audit 

With this in mind, here are two examples of much loved high street names leading with a customer experience approach which introduce digital technology into their operational processes across the value chain to add real value to all involved.

McDonalds Faster Food

If your fast food is not delivered fast enough or you find waiting in a queue as time consuming as downloading via a poor internet connection. McDonald’s has begun trialling in store self-order kiosks with speedy contactless payment for time strapped customers at one of its branches in London.mcdonalds

Welcome to Planet Argos

Separately, Argos has made much of its new sleek digital concept stores. Bringing the online experience to the high street with the entire catalogue available to order via an interactive tablet as well as a collection facility. Click the image to link to a YouTube video showcasing the new store in Old Street, London.

argos

In both cases, what works is the simplicity of the approach. Whilst each has clearly been designed to speed up service fulfillment, it’s noticeable that actually having designed the process with the customer at the centre, visitors to the stores can be observed happily interacting with the simple to use technology and in fact spending that extra time to browse, select and even order more.

 

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 HSBC creates brand advocates through Customer Experience

I rarely write about my own customer experiences. Usually I’m taking examples from others and blending with my observations to evidence best or worse practice CX planning.

But on occasion I experience a customer experience as a consequence of a situation I’ve found myself in which impresses me enough to tell others.

And when it works, really well, it reminds us of the importance customer experience in helping consumers trying to ‘get on’ and live their lives. Great customer experience removes the friction in life which holds us back from getting through the day.

As a ‘consumer’ I can’t really consciously value this until it goes wrong. CX in this context operates as the unsung hero. However, the more important that process to me within the context of my life, the increased favourability I undoubtedly have for one brand over another.

So when something unexpected happens in my life, a customer experience designed to remove the anxiety will go a long way in turning my passive relationship to a promoter of their brand. I might even commit the experience to a blog. Here’s my story…

hsbc 2…at 11.30am I stepped back from a presentation I was preparing and picked up a couple of approved invoices to pay. I looked for my ‘securekey’ which allows me to access the HSBC business bank account. It wasn’t where it normally should be. I knew I needed to call HSBC to get a replacement. I decided I could make the payments when it arrived.

I was working remotely from our Bishops Stortford office so called the London office and told them the situation. I was reminded that these were due today and one by midday. Panic back on. It was at this point I realise I should have paid them before I got stuck in to the presentation but it was too late and the presentation was due to be sent in two hours.

hsbc bsI headed to the local branch of HSBC. As I walked there I realised I didn’t know what it would achieve going in to see them, our branch was in Victoria, but with the minutes ticking I wanted to share my pain and see what could be done over the counter.

On arrival I was greeted with a smile by a greeter. I explained the situation and he calmly said it could be sorted. He told me to head to the teller to get the payments made first. I did. I explained my quandary to the lady behind the glass. With enough security checks to make me feel comfortable, but not so much that I felt violated, ‘we’ made the payments on time. I say we because without the HSBC team I would have failed.

The lady informed me that if I called the replacement securekey team from the branch they could issue me a new card now. Wow, so within 45 minutes of my crisis starting, it would be over.

The greeter dialled through the IVR and connected me to a person. Being a global bank I expected a globally located operator. I was right. But that didn’t diminish the empathy and understanding of my situation he offered.

To get through to the point where an email was sent to me and a new securecard handed to me in branch involved three phone transfers and the assistance of three members of branch staff. But each one of those phone transfers managed my expectations and when I was handed over the recipient of my call explained my situation to me straight off to give me confidence that they were in control.

I left the bank 20 minutes after arriving with payments made, a new securekey ready to activate, a smile on my face and a tweet winging its way to broadcast from @consultingchris on how great they’d been.

It then dawned on me that I’d had a branded customer experience. This was global, local in action. Okay I wasn’t trading with New Zealand or requiring advice on setting up a venture in Baltimore, but I was vulnerable and their global network of operators helped me out capably supported by the local team.

From a customer experience best practice perspective this delivers against all 6 customer attributes:

  1. They managed my expectations across every touch point
  2. They minimised the time and effort taken by employing various channels and technology to arrive at the right outcome
  3. They empathised with my situation and brought my anxiety down whilst we got things sorted
  4. They resolved my issues without any sense of it being less than why they were there
  5. They personalised it to me. It may be this happens on a daily basis for them but I felt they’d structured their customer experience response specifically around my situation
  6. They showed integrity putting my interests first. They could have been more stringent on security (more than needed) but a few smart questions ensured I was who I said I was and they let me use a branch in the middle of the phone even though they were hosting a MacMillan Nurses Cake morning .

Hats off to HSBC from me and our suppliers who got paid on time.

Not forgetting my client who received the presentation in time too. And that’s why all of the above was so important to me. It allowed me to ‘get on’ with my business.

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 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 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.

5 customer experience examples from the hotel sector

One of the sectors we help brands attract and retain happier customers in is the hospitality sector. It never ceases to amaze me how hotel brands and boutiques push the boundaries in customer experience.

I often think telecom, utility, financial service, retail and local government customer experience teams should run their strategy round tables and improvement workshops from hotels. It would give them a real sense of what level of customer experience their customers are experiencing when they are away from their brands. It would help them appreciate how their endeavours are often compared to brands in completely unrelated sectors and not just their industry peer group.

With this in mind, here are five examples of great customer experience from the world of hotels which consumers who consume from all the sectors mentioned above are experiencing as well. Some we’ve witnessed first-hand, others have been passed on to us by impressed travellers. But they are all great touches which help to create memorable experiences and advocates out of paying guests.

The Andaz Casual Check-in

andaz ambassadorNot a new idea, but a very impactful one. We stayed at Hyatt’s Andaz hotel in London. On arriving into the lobby we were approached by a greeter. Asked to sit in the comfortable lobby area by a greeter with a tablet to hand, complimentary coffee arrived and the greeter checked us in as we sat. On completion a concierge automatically arrived (no doubt triggered by the completion of the check-in transaction) and took our luggage. We then settled back and watched the world go by drinking our coffee. We ccouldn’thave felt more valued or welcomed. No wonder the hotel achieves a 91% rating and is in the top 5% of London hotels on Trip Advisor.

Premier Inn Family Proposition

premier inn doorThis example proves you don’t need big budgets or luxury brands to deliver exceptional customer experience. Premier Inn demonstrate how you can repackage existing assets to meet customer’s needs better. The low cost hotel has introduced a most impressive proposition; the ‘silent please’ family ground floor. I stayed there with my family whilst visiting my brother in Staffordshire last year. We were put on the ground floor and asked to ‘Shhhhh’ between 7pm and 10am. Having stayed in hotels when our children were babies and been woken by guests not unreasonably chatting in the corridors at not unreasonable times, this idea is helpful when settling children for the night. But it was the lovely touch of an extra spy hole for children on the door which I felt added fun to the experience. It was something for the kids which proved a great novelty. A great and relatively low cost addition to reinforce their family appeal.

Conrad’s Sleep Academy

conrad sleepWhilst on the subject of sleeping, Conrad in Chicago has taken the humble pillow to a new level of consumer choice. Whilst some hotels offer a choice of ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ when you book or as you check in, Conrad has created its own Sleep Menu website with a range of sleep services for guests. Of course you can choose the pillow of your choice, but extras like ear plugs, quilt turn downs, night caps, lip menders, moisture lock socks and wake up calls have all been packaged under this fun proposition. Using services which any hotel could provide, plus a few more to be distinctive, the way it is presented creates a memorable experience which reinforces the attention to detail only associated with a brand like Conrad.

Ritz-Carlton Values Delivered

I am sure you’ve heard this one before, but it’s a compelling demonstration of what you can achieve when you set your customers satisfaction bar as high as creating “unique and memorable” experiences.  Taken from Bloomberg Business Week, “One family staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Bali, had carried specialized eggs and milk for their son who suffered from food allergies. Upon arrival, they saw that the eggs had broken and the milk had soured. The Ritz-Carlton manager and dining staff searched the town but could not find the appropriate items. But the executive chef at this particular resort remembered a store in Singapore that sold them. He contacted his mother-in-law, and asked that she buy the products and fly to Bali to deliver them, which she agreed to do.”

Each day at around the world, employees from every department gather for a 15-minute meeting, known as a “lineup”, to review guest experiences, resolve issues, and discuss ways to improve service. Once basic housekeeping items are out of the way, the time is spent reinforcing the brands service values with employees using guest example storytelling to explain how they have delivered against them.

Hilton Double Tree’s Cookie Miracle 

hilton cookiePeople have told me (more than once) that they choose Double Tree because they get a cookie! When you think how big an impressive a hotel building and the resources needed to run it are, it sounds ludicrous. But what matters to me as a guest, is not the same as what matters to the hotel always. The cookie represents the personal touch, it’s a gesture demonstrating care and consideration. Virtues a guest unknowingly extends to every aspect of the hotel because until they’ve experienced it they only have the cookie as evidence of it. As they put it, ‘there is something special about a warm, yummy chocolate chip cookie. It says “Welcome” in so many ways’. 25 years later and with an annual production run of 21 million cookies, it keeps delivering the values they wish to demonstrate better than any ad or promotion can.

These are 5 examples from one industry, but the sentiment of the examples can be shared and delivered across many others. If you’ve enjoyed this selection you might want to check out our 5 great automotive customer experience examples too.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and 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 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

5 customer experience examples from the automotive sector

The great thing about working on customer experience mentoring and programme management is  how transferable ideas and initiatives are across different sectors. Customer is a constant regardless of sector so ideas transfer and inspiration can be taken from other sectors. It’s quite unique in that way. Clients are keen to see examples from other sectors to help stretch the thinking within their own.

With that in mind, here are 5 examples of customer experience initiatives from the automotive industry. So if it’s your sector; hopefully you can take direct lessons from these. And if you are in a different sector, let them inspire your lateral thinking.

Ownership drives customer- centric approach at JaguarJaguar

JLR asked Engine Service Design to help them design the customer experience around the purchase and, critically, the ownership of the C-X75. Engine explored a range of complex needs around ownership and driving experiences to develop the customer experience. Engine translated the insights into a set of principles and service personality to guide both the C-X75 experience and also the wider JLR experience.

Meet the BMW CX geniuses 

“The dealership experience is as old as the car industry, roughly one hundred years old. While cars have changed, the retail experience is much the same as it was one hundred years ago,” says Dr. Ian Robertson who oversees global sales and marketing for BMW.BMW

BMW leaders studied brands outside of the car industry to create BMW’s “future retail strategy.” According to Robertson it led to “a complete redevelopment of BMW’s digital world, the physical experience at the dealership, and how our people interact with customers in the sales process.” With an obvious nod to the Apple Store, BMW decided to create a new role in its dealerships—the product genius. The BMW product genius is a non-commissioned expert who will spend as long as it takes to educate car shoppers about their choices. “The product genius is not encumbered by the sale process and is not motivated to sell a car,” Robertson responded. “His motivation is customer satisfaction.”

BMW has already recruited about 900 people for its product genius positions and will hire a total of 2,000 over the next 12 months. The dealerships will also offer a seamless multi-channel transition from the digital store to the physical one. Robertson made an observation that applies to most business ventures in today’s digital economy: “What we have done in the past is definitely, definitely, definitely, not good enough for the future.”

Employee engagement to drive customer experience improvements at Lookers

lookersLookers recognises that a motivated and satisfied workforce lies at the heart of its success. It enhances its ‘Customers for Life’ company strapline and ethos. It revolves around Lookers NICER values: Nice, Informative, Caring, Enthusiastic and Responsive (driven by customer relationship drivers).

Paul Bentley, Director of CX said, “It’s that simple really. Happy staff makes for happy customers. The customer experience is the ultimate differentiator in the modern car retailing business and we are keen to make sure we deliver the best there is”. Areas of improvement targeted include customer and staff engagement, where regular appraisals, customer and staff surveys and improved internal communication are made a priority through regular analysis and measurement.

Audi uses customer experience to turn satisfaction scores around

audiAudi’s 2020 vision is to leave customer’s delighted. But 21st out of 23 in the International Aftersales Customer Satisfaction (IACS) rankings meant they had work to do. service issues and poor comms drove Audi customers elsewhere. A ‘Driven to Delight’ programme reached out to all 132 Audi centres from valet to sales translating ‘delight’ into behaviours.

A mobile entertainment unit took a roadshow taking everyone on the journey towards ‘delighting’. Starting with negative customers and finishing with a premium customer experience showroom once customers were turned into more loyal and profitable fans from receiving a better customer experience.

Where customers were satisfied was the foundation built on. But using a ‘Total Reality’ the appointed Brand Biology consultants worked with staff to figure out improvements. Staff bought in and committed to deliver improvements. The following years IACS results ranked Audi eleven places higher at 10th.

A differentiated customer experience the Mercedes Benz way

mercAfter sales is key for premium car sales. External market forces have levelled the playing field with the independents stealing share on price. Mercedes Benz looked to differentiate their offer.

Time was spent with dealers and customers to understand what great looked like when it came to after sales. Competitors that were praised were mystery shopped too. all insights were mapped across an organising vision. A suite of end-to-end concepts and experience enablers were tested using desktop versions to full scale prototypes. Five service principles were arrived at and MyMercedesBenz after-sales vision was born. Which features several core propositions such as My service booking apps.

Workshops were used to drive staff engagement. And a pilot was developed wit every aspect of the experience; comms, behaviours , interactions with 3rd parties and environment revised to align to the visions.

Satisfaction rating rose by 50%. Retail visits jumped to 8.1% against national decline of 3.1%. Average spend up £18. MyMercedesBenz has rolled out to 25 regions with 25 more and collected a host of prestigious industry awards.

I hope these have been of interest to you, whatever sector you are involved in.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing 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. 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 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why brand values, social media and customer experience must work as one to be fully optimised

Whenever I meet someone who inspires me, it’s not long before I ask them what good customer experience means to them. I was talking to Hazel, MD at the Creative Content Company and she was explaining how many businesses are choosing more to use social media as a way to engage with their customers on mass but their customers are using it as a faster way to speak to individuals in the business when they have queries or complaints. I thought this was an interesting misalignment and asked her for an example to explain what she meant.

Hazel told me how a large cinema chain used social media quite well but if they’d have used it appropriately in her case they could have done it so much better.

cineworld

A few months ago, Hazel went to her local cinema to watch The Love Punch. She ordered a pot of popcorn (sweet and salted) and a Coke Zero with no ice. Hazel doesn’t like ice in her drinks as she has sensitive teeth she told me.

When Hazel went through and found her seat in the cinema she started to drink her coke and noticed it had ice in it. By this time she had taken off her coat and bag, squeezed past several people to get to her seat so didn’t fancy going back past them all to get her coke changed.

Picture3Like a lot of us, Hazel took to Twitter. She sent a tweet, tagging #CineworldHuntingdon and explaining she was really looking forward to watching The Love Punch but she was disappointed they put ice in her drink when she specifically said no ice, adding that the guy that served her was polite and friendly but clearly hadn’t listened.

How Cineworld dealt with it

cineworld tweet 2Within minutes Cineworld Huntingdon came back on Twitter – good news from a brand responsive perspective to minimise reputational damage. They apologised for this and said they would put ice down the guys back that served her as ‘pay back’ for not listening. This was a really quick, friendly response. It gave the twitter account a personality and a lot of people retweeted and replied to the tweet as it was funny, but what about Hazel and her coke with ice? There was still ice in the drink, her teeth would still feel pain after the smile from the Cineworld tweet had worn off.

How a customer-centric Cineworld might have dealt with it

Let’s be honest it could have been so much more effective. From Hazel’s tweet they could see what film she was watching, they knew there were about 50 people in there from the ticket sales and they knew she was on her own from her ticket sale. They could tell the film didn’t start for 15 minutes from their scheduling on their website and from her profile picture on twitter they even knew what she looked like. A member of staff could have walked in to the theatre with a coke without ice and started by saying, “Did someone order a coke without ice?”

If Hazel had already taken to Twitter to query the coke and ice incident you could have imagine what she would have done if they had bought a replacement coke into the cinema for her? Not to mention the 50 other people in the cinema. Perhaps even a selfie would have followed featuring Hazel, the coke and the forgetful Cineworld drinks dispenser.

Hazel expected a coke with no ice, as she requested but she did not get this so her expectations had not been met. Whilst the response on Twitter was friendly and engaging which is great and personable her query was never actually resolved.

As a platform social media is an effective listening tool, but unlike a call centre with a limited number of seats so you can manage down the number of calls answered, the pipe is wide and always on. If you engage you must resolve.

The importance of brand values in customer experience

But most importantly if the Cineworld team had focussed on ensuring their staff were trained in the importance of delivering a branded experience as well as they well versed in how to tweet, the outcome would have been much more focused on ensuring their customer’s entertainment needs (in this case a coke without ice as much as the movie viewing) were fulfilled. Light-hearted banter is easy. Delivering it whilst reaffirming the strengths of the brand much less so. Brand is not an optional extra in customer experience.

The reason brands like Disney remain head and shoulders above all others in the entertainment world experience is because their people are empowered to focus on their purpose before their tasks.

sensitive teethIt’s a challenge. And it’s a cultural thing. Giving the social media team responsibility to resolve, or align messaging to a branded customer charter will take the brand from socially amusing to simply amazing.

Those who choose to respond to social media posts about their brands with jest without tackling the nature of the initial customer engagement have to accept they leave a lingering bad brand taste in the mouth of those whose issues remain unresolved. A lingering bad taste which is not associated with the channel (which often has flippant and frivolous content), but with the brands themselves. In this case an association between Cineworld and the pain of of very sensitive teeth. Not very funny now.

For an example of how to take a query and turn it into positive PR, with full customer resolution click on our Unordinary blog featuring  ‘we buy any car’.

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.

Unordinary Thinking No.44 – Is the lost glove theory the ultimate customer loyalty strategy?

Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Allison TolmanI was watching the concluding part of Fargo this weekend. It’s no Breaking Bad, but it has had threads of steel holding it all together and brilliant casting in Billy Bob Thornton as the commercially astute and emotionally cold assassin, Martin Freeman as the hapless insurance salesman anti-hero and Alison Tolman as the dogmatic everyday saviour. It contained many deep and sometimes amusing anecdotes used as references to highlight the way the characters lived their lives. In the final episode there was a story about a lost glove not being a lost cause. As soon as the generosity of the act sunk in it triggered a curiosity in me which was, ‘Could this be repeated in business?’ The story  went something like this….

“A man boards a train. He sits in his seat and looks out of the window at the platform he’s just walked down. There on the floor he sees a glove similar to his own. He checks his pocket to discover he only has one glove. Realising what has happened he immediately rises from his seat with the intention of retrieving the glove.

As he does the train starts to move away slowly. It’s a lost cause.

In a split second, he opens the window and throws the other glove out on to the platform. It lands next to the lost glove. Seeing where it settles the man smiles and sits back down.

The passenger opposite him quizzes, “Why did you throw your glove out of the window?” The gloveless man replies, “I can’t enjoy one glove. But perhaps someone else can now enjoy two”.

Does this model play out in the world of business?

We have ‘throw away’ food bins in supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda. But this is less about the store contributing and more about the shopper contributing. It’s also about a considered charitable donation rather than a charitable donation driven by the shoppers own loss.

tesco voucherWe also have supermarkets offering a ‘brand match’ redemption coupon against a future purchase because their competitors are cheaper. It’s good for the customer, along as the customer wants to shop in their store again. So whilst they accept they’ve lost out to another brand (on price), the objective is to still keep the customer.

It might not always work. On a recent trip to Tesco the brand match on our shop was over £7. It prompted my wife to comment, “Goodness, that’s more than a little worse, perhaps I should not shop there anymore”. So this model may well drive the customer to the competition, but that wasn’t the intention of the promotion.

So do models exist where businesses improve a competitor’s outcomes ahead of their own interests because it’s in the best interest of their customers?

The concept of putting customers at the heart of the business is alien to most economic schools of thought. And the concept of handing customers over to the competition is seen as lunacy even to the most liberally minded CMO.

Meet Zappos, where happiness drives customer first thinking

That is unless you are Zappos. The online shoe retailer from the US is perhaps now more famous for their service than their shoes. CEO, Tony Hiesh promotes that Zappos ‘deliver happiness’ and is ‘powered by service’.

zapposThose involved in CX will know Zappos well. They along with Disney and Amazon are heralded as the kings of customer experience. Along with the Disney Institute, Zappos has it’s own customer experience academy. Like Disney it’s open to all.

So it was unsurprising that I found the example I was looking for to prove the lost glove theory in business.

Here is how it works…

…if a customer calls up for a pair of shoes that Zappos doesn’t have in stock or sell, their call centre operators will track down a competitor who has the shoes in stock and transfer the customer to them.

An economist might shudder at the thought. The seasoned customer experience  practioner might call it genius. Genius because customers referred onward spend a reported twice as much on their next purchase from Zappos whilst telling as others about the integrity of the brand.

It does feel unnatural to push customers away, especially towards the competitor. That is unless you take the unordinary view that the customer relationship is not defined by sales but by commitment to the brand. The customer will experience a lesser quality service with the competitor, reminding them of Zappos strength and bringing them back for their next purchase.

This generosity demonstrates confidence in the Zappos brand whilst putting customers 100% at the heart of their decision making.

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.

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