Tag Archives: zappos

Customers will never forget how a great branded experience made them feel

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou (American poet, biographer and actress 1928-2014).

This sentiment has proved a useful yardstick when designing memorable customer experiences and compelling customer value propositions with clients. You know when you’ve got it right because customers state favouritism in feedback session such as, “I can’t quite express why I like them. They just seem to be in tune with what matters to me”.

brand heartHowever, measuring this emotional fulfillment is challenging. And I’d argue because it’s difficult to measure, it isn’t. Brands tend to be valued on awareness or share of market instead. Even if salience, relating to buyer memory structure, is on the brand dashboard it tends to be informed by recent promotions and the latest wave of advertising messaging. Businesses prefer to set their path by that which they can measure results against. Sadly a warm feeling inside because someone did something that left a lasting memory is not something a city analyst calculating brand equity will be able to make a company valuation on.

That said, customer experience does create an opportunity to deliver memorable engagements between customers and brands, which will remain in the consciousness for a while and the subconscious even longer.  And with measures such as NPS proving effective predictors of retention rates and profitability, it’s no wonder customer experience is seen as the next battlefield for differentiation.

Will it catch on? I think it will – I judged an awards last year where a market leading GI firm’s Commercial Director presented the case for CX as the reason their business fortunes had picked up.

So how do you deliver experiences or propositions which make customers ‘feel’ differently about a brand? For me it’s about three things:

  1. Understanding the situation your customer is in now
  2. Deciding how the better place you want them to be in feels like
  3. Devising how you get them there in a way that reinforces the nurtured values of your brand

Companies like Disney and Zappos do it naturally. For most it’s more of a commercially calculated decision, but that’s still okay. If the outcome makes the customer remember you favourably because of the way you made them feel, it’s a deeper connection than a 50% discount will ever achieve. As well as being a considerably more profitable one.

Here are a couple of examples which hopefully will leave a warm feeling inside and demonstrate how you can get massive cut through at very little cost by putting the customer’s feelings first.

Timpson’s & the unemployed

timpsonIf you’re out of work you can’t afford to be splashing out on dry cleaning. But at a job interview to rectify the situation, you want to give yourself the best possible chance of success. A freshly pressed dry cleaned suit or outfit can only help your cause and confidence. I’m not sure how they got there but this big hearted gesture from Timpson’s Dry Cleaners will live long in the memory of any out of work candidate who takes it up and lands that new job. As well attract applauds and a new customer or two in people like me acknowledging they don’t have to do this, but they do.

Ritz-Carlton & Joshi

This has almost become legend on the CX circuits but it’s worth rolling out a few more times yet. Having returned from a holiday at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Florida, Reilly’s Dad realised that his young son had left his favourite soft toy Joshi the Giraffe behind. He called the hotel and they located it. Having found it the staff could have said they would ship it back at cost. But instead they had some fun and at the same time justified Joshi’s extended stay to Reilly. Joshi was returned with an album of memories from his time ranging from Spa treatments, to restaurant meals, pool time and more. Reilly, his parents and now millions of social media viewers have a warmer feeling about Ritz-Carlton than they did before.

joshi2 joshi1

It’s that simple. Start with a scenario which is relevant to your customer and devise the best outcome you can achieve. Then worry about how to make it happen. It’s amazing where it can take you and just how long it will last in the hearts and minds of your customers.

For more on brand impact of customer experience try this presentation made by Lexden in 2014 to the Financial Services Forum.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

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. 

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.

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Three ways in which brands are optimising their customer experience investment

Customer Experience is still a relatively new strategy for businesses to follow. Whilst most have a feedback programme and a customer dashboard in place, many are still trying to figure out how CX will drive their business forward. Whilst this is playing out there are three options we’ve observed that have varying levels of effectiveness.

The ‘CX as a mission’ company

Zappos, the ladies online shoe retailer and part-time CX academy headed by Tony Hsieh. The strapline is ‘Powered by Service’. and with a number of legendary service delivery stories circulating they’ve become the ‘thinking CX practioners’ version of perfection.

zappos2One such story is that if a customer calls to buy shoes that they don’t have or sell, they will transfer them to a competitor free of charge so they can buy the shoes. Try that one if you are a telco or asset manager! But they have found when (and it’s when not if) the customer returns they spend 2.5 times as much on their next purchase. It’s baked in to who they are as any of their employee videos show.

The ‘CX as a measure’ company

I know of several companies who have put NPS up as a measure by which they will judge their CX success. Others even bonus staff on lifting NPS targets. I’ve also spotted NPS targets popping up in vision statements as well. But because it’s a number, it’s something that is aimed for and the business deems itself a success if it achieves it and a failure if it doesn’t.

I was at a conference recently and another speaker told me he’d seen car salesman rip NPS as a measure apart. It didn’t matter where the target was set they hit it everytime. And not a point more. They had worked out what they needed to do to achieve their targets. It had nothing to do with what mattered for the customer or how the company wanted to be portrayed. Scores like NPS are not what’s important, its the verbatim and feedback that they represent. This is the gold that helps the company get better and delight more customers. Be obsessed by customer betterment rather than the measure.

The ‘CX as a message’ company

kia adIt’s not surprising, with comms agencies taking an active role in CX strategy development, that some clients CX efforts focus on messaging their CX achievements. For instance, Kia have used the findings from what I assume would have been their VoC workshop inputs as the concept for a TV ad. With customer comments on post-its popping off the wall. It is then followed up with the boast of being voted No. 1 for satisfaction.

HSBC are in on the act too with a very beautiful ad. It parallels brotherly relationships with staff providing unexpected support and finishes with the strap line, ‘We reward our staff for delivering outstanding customer support’. Interpreted by a colleague of mine as, ‘We have to pay them otherwise they wouldn’t do it’.

Now having written a blog on the greatness of HSBC’s CX recently, I know it’s not like that in reality, so forgive my outburst HSBC – I love you still, but I’m not sure the ad agency or those briefing them, get what CX is. There’s a link below, make your own judgement but I think paralleling brotherly ‘love’ with customer service support is confused.

hsbc ad

In their TV ads, Nationwide use their CSAT scores (from their own study not an independent one) to present themselves as No. 1 for Customer Satisfaction on the high street. My wife, a member, would argue that’s unnecessary media spend. She knows they are No.1 in her eyes because they’ve always delivered a great experience and have earned the right to be her bank forever because they always do right by her.

She would say they don’t need to tell everyone how great they are. I would say they should use this platform to demonstrate why they are No.1 instead.

In summary

Great customer experience is something a customer feels and experiences. Those like Zappos who have it hard wired in to their DNA deliver it with every customer engagement. Those who place importance on measuring it will find CX is only great where or when it is measured. Just because the customer completed a feedback survey, it doesn’t mean they actually score the company. They only do that because they were asked to. For consumers its less quantitative – they know it’s right because it works for them. It’s an emotional connection and often only realised way after the event.

The reward is the customer remains engaged with a preference. They will stand in the queues, wait at the bus stops and sit in the coffee shop telling stories to others about how great your brand is.

However, this advocacy is a key benefit of delivering a great customer experience that should be measured because it will reduce your marketing acquisition and retention costs because your customers are doing your marketing for you.

Making sure your customer experience is a mission means the measurements will be achieved and the messages created through stories on the street which is more powerful than a TV campaign.

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 

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.

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.

 

How to start a Customer Experience Strategy 5/5: Resist short cuts. Only the short-lived use them.

I was approached recently at a conference and asked, ‘if we are starting out on a customer experience strategy, what are the key pieces of advice you would give a business when embarking on a customer experience strategy? I answered:

  1. Ensure those responsible for the customer experience have the right experience too
  2. If it’s the company that wants to be more customer-centric start with them, not the customer
  3. Understand the potential and the limits of customer experience early on
  4. Once you are in, you are all in and you are in for the long haul if you intend to profit
  5. Short cuts exist, resist. Only short lived programmes use them

5. Short cuts exist, resist. Only short lived programmes use them

With CX there is impatience to see improvements quickly. In our experience it can encourage the wrong behaviours within a business. There are two drivers of short–cut mentality:

a) Improved Performance
b) Differentiation

Both are of course achievable from customer experience. In fact, there is quantified evidence to show in many sectors, CX is more effective than brand, product, price or communications when it comes to retaining customer relationship.

However, pre-fix either outcome with ‘immediate’ and you have a recipe for disaster. We worked on an assignment where one of the main international consultancies whispered into the CEO’s ear that CX should deliver incremental commercial gain within three months. So the CEO informed the board. The board informed the group. The group told the business to deliver it. So it became a race to the bottom with everyone searching for short-term gains. Two years later I’m not sure they’ve moved forward at all.

In this paper we will demonstrate even though ‘short cuts’ exist in CX, they result in a short-lived focus on customer and long-term damage to the business.

The silver bullet is not it seems to be. After all it is famed for sleighing werewolves; itself a mythical creature which has no place in the our world. Certainly not customer experience.

a) The short-fall of using CX to deliver immediate performance improvement

The parallels with brand investment and return are relevant on more than one level. If the brand team were told, “we need some quick sales to flow from you brand investment now at any cost” what would they do? If there existence depended on, they may well ditch the focus of reaffirming their unique differentiating positioning using emotional and rational engagement to create meaningful existence in their customers lives. But instead opt for slashing prices, being everywhere and shouting ‘free’.

The reaction of the CX team wouldn’t be too different. They’d dive for short cuts to demonstrate return. Short cuts such as giving customers refunds rather than fixing root causes creating mistakes (to pacify NPS) or remove personnel who engage in dialogue with customers until a resolution is achieved rather than drive queries through e mail only with 72 hour response times. Such short cuts aren’t providing a better outcome for the customer. Whilst ticks appear on the business performance report, customers will be left less satisfied and move their custom elsewhere, barking about your business. Like the brand team you will have killed the very thing you aimed to invest in for the future of the business.

Technology troubles

Technology seeps into customer experience at every level. From feedback surveys, to mapping software, to text analytics, to social listening tools all the way through to improvements driven tech such as web chat avatars and personalised pricing QR codes. It’s all good stuff. But efficiency shouldn’t be achieved at the detriment of quality and understanding.

cx 5 word cloudLet’s take text analytics. When you are dealing with a mass of customer data, such as 400 hotels feedback or 200 supermarkets, the thought of wading through every customer response is challenging. The truth is the real time required to cover this (assuming a minimum of 50+ comments per location per session) means you’d never get out of the ‘VoC’ lab! However, throw it all into a sentiment sensitive text analytics mixing bowl and you will find what you have is a blended version of the truth.

Story telling is a key component of customer experience. Customers want to tell you their story. Reducing this outpouring to a word means the power, the passion and the potency is lost.

For example, “My wife and I had looked forward to the break because it would be a treat for our 4 year old as a well done for starting school. Sadly on arrival the pool was under renovation due to an scheduled building work. It was heart breaking for all of us because we’d spent weeks getting our daughter excited about the idea of learning to swim now she’d started school. If our expectations had been better managed, we could have chosen another hotel on this occasion. Instead you’ve lost our custom forever.”

When you read this through, you feel the parental pain and child’s heartbreak. As well as recognising the consequential impact of not managing guests expectation. By not updating the website or informing those who have already booked, bad will has been created.

Would you recognise this with an effective text analytics system? What you might have returned is NEGATIVE | BREAK | POOL BUILDING | LOST. It’s a weaker picture with no sense of what needed to be done.  In our view customer feedback reviewing is the hard yards needed to understand issues and their impact fully.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share the load around. We have found VoC sessions can be great ways to get more people within an organisation engaged with customers. All that is needed is a standard operating framework.

Praising individuals rather than improvements

We’ve come across programmes which focus on rewarding positive outcomes which is great it encourages participation.  However, where the individual is rewarded for an NPS idea before it’s performance has been realised. This only encourages ideas which have no grounding in reality. But rewarding an individual when an idea is live means most ideas are short-term fixes which is not desirable. CX should deliver sustainable improvements.

cx 5 cool ideasIt’s worth remembering that NPS is not a performance measure it’s a measure which informs performance. Customer experience is a philosophy not a project. In the above example we would recommend placing effort on rewarding the improvements that delivers the uplift in NPS over time, identifying other areas across the customer experience where it can be repeated and recognising those behind the improvement. Save the rewards to end of year ceremonies or annual appraisal demonstrations of ‘acting in the interest of customers’

b) Using CX to deliver immediate competitor differentiation

We spoke in part 2 of this 5 part series about how a brand must fix what’s broken and then build a better customer experience. And that making what matters most to customers better through values of the brand achieves brand differentiation in CX which creates competitive advantage when delivered well

However, many are tempted to jump the layers. But jumping layers doesn’t work. Making things enjoyable when the basics are still broken is a shortcoming of the naive customer experience strategist, or one under pressure from the board to deliver. It’s seen as cosmetic by employees who will class it as ‘lip service’ and they will then stop believing in the customer too.

Customers will quickly see through your papered over the cracks

cx 5 old ladyAnd customers themselves quickly see through inferior or fob off solutions, becoming cynical of the motive and more frustrated with your brand. A CEO reportedly took a bunch of flowers to an elderly lady who had complained about his company’s service. As a PR stunt it was positioned as a, ‘Showing We Care’ exercise to demonstrate warmth comes from the top. However, the flowers were viewed as a cover up by the customer who told the CEO she wanted resolution to her issue, not flowers. A resolution the CEO had to concede he didn’t know how to fix!

Have faith, differentiation can be achieved through customer experience. www.zappos.com is a brand arguably more famous for their customer experience excellence than the ladies shoes the retail.

Getting it right means delivering in a coordinated manner aligned with business priorities. To fulfill the customer’s expectations and then exceed will them creates a positive customer noise and advocacy as well as internal support. This takes time. Ryanair know those 15 years of low cost, no frills budget airline positioning won’t be reversed with a national TV ad and a new website. But they are starting with basics. They are rolling their sleeves up and investing the time needed. These efforts take years to turn around. But with a positioning of 250th in the Nunwood Customer Experience Experts UK league, it’s going to be along haul.

Proving the case to the board to get the investment to differentiate

One of the most challenging but most rewarding undertakings is to correlate customer experience improvement (often recorded as NPS or CSAT) with the business performance targets. Like proving the value of sponsorship towards sales and brand equity, it’s not easy, but the links are there.

You should in any business case for a CX programme how the performance measures will change, including brand profile and market share. But to propose brand metrics will move early in the programme leads to problems later on. It takes time and requires customer performance patterns to build up before it starts to come through.

Our advice would be to first look for connections between improvements and a range of easy to identify measures such as:

  • Reduced cost to serve,
  • Drop in negative social feedback on specific issues,
  • High levels of claimed advocacy,
  • Reduced level of drop out from ‘not proceed with’ during sales process,
  • Uplift in usage patterns from loyal customers,
  • Usage of more effective channels,
  • Preferred to competitor equivalent experience

cx 5 many thumbs upFirst, see which of these marketers measures the customer experience improvements affects. Then use these small wins to gain confidence internally, not least of all the Heads of Brand, Propositions and Communication. You will need these stakeholders to commit their budget to build experience as priority component of their focus. They also often hold the budget you will need to promote the differentiation. Differentiation will be driven from within.

Like all of the 5 points raised in this series, this is all very manageable. Critically with customer experience it’s the experience of the team which will determine the success of the strategy.

At Lexden, we find a blend of enthusiasm and a fundamental understanding of how things work from the client blended with our team’s decades of customer experience development across various sectors and borders ensures we have the right synergies to achieve a best in class solution for every specific engagement.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the series. Lexden’s Best Practice Customer Value Propositions series is available free from www.lexdengroup.wordpress.com

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Strategy Consultant & Director at Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Consultancy | Putting your customers at the heart of the decision.

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

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on  M: +44 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.