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  • Is this the most fun you can have with Customer Experience? October 24 2017

    There was a piece of research from e-consulting that showed CX was perceived to be the most fun area of business to be involved in. Whether you are putting a smile on the customers face every day or helping the CEO understand the correlation between fulfilling experiences that matter and profitability, you can see how the argument stacks up. Positive outcomes create contentment all round.

    I’ve been involved across all areas of Customer Experience for most of my working life. From helping improve clients CX endeavours when others have left things a little unravelled or working up from the blank page to create CX strategies which reposition a company’s focus from product to customer right through to designing and building employee engagement CX board games!

    Yes, you read that correctly. I didn’t expect it would be something I would need to do as a CX strategist, but now I’ve done it and clients have played it, it is possibly my favourite part of customer experience. It has also helped me fully understand the significant difference between a CX Consultant and a Management Consultant.

    Why a CX board game?

    Some years ago, I was working with Carlson Rezidor (Radisson Red, Blu and Park Inn) as CX Consultant. Each of their three hundred plus hotels received a continuous slice of Medallia customer feedback. But it wasn’t always easy to engage employees at each hotel to review and act on what they received. Especially when they had a list of other ‘asset’ issues to sort out.

    So we devised a format to ensure the hotels received a more ‘digestible’ format of the insight. But they needed more to act upon it. The option was to visit each hotel to workshop the value of VoC and how to employ it to achieve better customers outcomes, I realised if I committed I might be on the road forever and never see my family again!

    Let the CX games commence!

    It was then that it came to me. I needed a format for engagement that didn’t rely upon an individual leading, but kept players together. I spoke to contacts in the gaming world and I soon realised a remote digital solution was a death knell when it came to interactive game play like this.

    So, I sat down and devised a board game which was focused on providing customers solution using clients customer feedback data, so the insight would become a key part of the play. The idea being that colleagues from across the hotel could come together (breaks or team meet times), review the big issues and use the game mechanic to arrive at better outcomes. For the hotel the concept was ‘checking guests in, being served with a problem and then devising solutions based on proven ideation techniques we provided’.

    The solutions would then be approved by other players (representing the guests) and put in to practice at the hotel. The results would be shared with other hotels across EMEA using a micro-site we’d built. If those receiving hotels had the same issue, they got a prompt and could choose to save time and employ the idea too. This became the ‘customer facing’ version. This way it could be packaged up and sent to each hotel to run with instructions, but without me.

    The ‘Making a CX Difference’ board game, is branded to whichever company is using it and the content and design play tweaked to suit their purpose. So it’s a unique concept format for each company.

    We have since developed and delivered successfully a version for employees who are not connected to the customer. They bring their business challenges instead of customer challenges to the meeting and we use a similar set of techniques to create solutions which customers would approve of. Whilst it’s a great way of introducing colleagues from across the business to customer experience, it’s also a great ‘problem solving’ format for any team away day.

    Game play have become known as the ‘SPARK sessions’ following one participants comment that it had at last ignited the connection between their back office role and it’s impact on the end customer for the first time. We also run ‘trainer’ sessions with ‘Pass it on’ packs for those attending to cascade the knowledge to their colleagues.

    CX-DNA, our magic ingredient to success

    The gaming session intentionally only last 45 minutes, which keeps energy levels up. This can be accompanied by a ‘what is CX-DNA’ interactive workshop format we’ve developed. This introduces participants to the difference between customer experience and branded customer experience.

    To get to this we apply an extra ingredient, which is very much to do with the end customer. As specialist in customer-led thinking, and using either clients existing customer drivers sets or conducting our own CX behavioural change research as an input source. We identify what outcomes customers are looking to fulfil through the relationship with the brand and understand how to frame this as a set of Branded Customer Standards that only that brand can deliver (we call it CX-DNA).

    These are validated and articulated as an accessible set of Customer Standards to help colleagues’ prioritise and direct decision-making in favour of achieving the right customer outcomes. This enables us to be confident that any decision (internal or external) will be seen as valued by customers, and differentiated to competitors. We have found this is the smartest way to get employees from all areas of the business on-board with branded customer experience.

    What do clients say about playing Lexden’s Customer Experience Game?

    The outcome is always the same: employees empathise with customers, understand the impact their actions have on customers, take ownership of improving the situation and drive the change though.

    Clients have expressed their satisfaction with the format and we find it delivers the value of CX more effectively than any town hall, video or presentation can. We’ve had some great feedback:

    • “Really enjoyed the whole approach – especially important we got to be hands on”
      PM Community Manager, Transformation & Change
    • “Good interactive sessions had been created to stretch the mind and really think about what customer standards means in your own world”
      Interim Head of Internal Communications
    • “Very interactive and fun way of learning… quality of materials was very high. Reinforced our responsibility for all being advocates of customer thinking”
      Head of Audit

    • “I thought the approach was great. A breath of fresh air what with the level of engaging multimedia, inclusive group activity and fun focused on what I found to be a very useful framework. All transformation should aim to be like that.”
      Solicitor, Treasury & Corporate Legal
    • “I thoroughly enjoyed the session and would encourage the bank to hold more engaging sessions such as this on other topics in the future”
      Financial Accountant, Financial Control
    • “I really enjoyed the session and gained comfort from the fact that we could all see where we add value to the customer in the work we do”
      Analysis & Build Lead, IT Relationship and Change
    • “I really enjoyed the sessions …and I want to conduct it for my Teams”
      Business Readiness Manager

    If this has been of interest, why not find out more?

    We can provide the ‘Making a CX Difference’ board game as a finished product for you to use with your colleagues, or we can facilitate groups from 8-200 in gaming sessions or training.

    If the Customer Standards are of interest, we can share much more on the thinking and the difference applying Customer Standards in Customer Experience can have on the potential for sustained commitment by all to CX.

    For more please information, please contact Christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com

    If you’d like to receive more articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our free monthly ‘Customer Experience Update’.

    Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.



  • Are we compromising the customer experience in the pursuit of customer feedback? October 20 2017

    It used to be said consumers will see 5,000 (Walker-Smith) advertising messages every day. From how frequently I am asked I’m sure that number will soon be overtaken by ‘customer feedback requests’! I was at a CX event recently where one company alone claimed they had over 300 listening points! As customers we seem to be asked at every key stroke or foot step to provide feedback for one thing or another.

    Is the purpose to better understand how to enhance the experience to fulfil known customer outcomes or to be tipped off about processes which weren’t fit for release? The question is will this use of feedback by companies to discover their own faults enhance the the overall customer experience or over time impair perceptions of the company?

    I’ve heard it said, ‘but it’s feedback, that’s different to comms’. Organisations can’t afford to believe feedback systems are in a bubble and won’t impact the customer’s overall perception of their experience? Our evidence, from research and from helping companies caught in this space shows that whilst ‘being listened to’ is important to many customers (so much so it can be a driver of decision making), it still needs to be timely, measured and meaningfully executed if it is to be recognised and valued by customers. We once collated a number of feedback survey data sets for a client for analysis to discover that two of the top five reason for detractor scores were the quality and quantity of surveys received by customers!

    Too often the brand experience is absent in VoC design. Like customer communications and brand activation, the voice of the customer presentation to the customer should be aligned to the brand value and visual identify, and most importantly adhere to the brand experience standards. However, the flexibility here is often limited by vendor platform capability which may be limited to a logo, colour palette or font change.

    I saw an example recently where the company’s feedback button had been launched on top of the customer ‘contact us’ button used for sales. Brand should be at the table when it comes to  VoC feedback design as well as being grateful recipients of the insights.

    Is quality sacrificed for quality?

    When I walk through an airport, I’m asked to feedback how the experience was at security, passport control, at Starbucks, WHSmith’s, the loos etc. – it seems everywhere. And any bored 5-year walking to the gate ahead of me gets to whack the same set of buttons as me. I chose not to tap because of the floored value, even though I had an experience I wanted to feedback. How useful is that data exchange?

    If this was a polling station, or online questionnaire, the child’s feedback would be recorded as a spoil. But not here – every ‘whack’ and ‘whacker’ is equal. Worryingly there will be a group of execs sitting around a table analysing this data and deciding investment choices for the airport experience!

    Doubling up. Dumbing down.

    The ease of serving online feedback might ultimately become the catalyst for their demise. I’m This recent personal account, highlights my point. Having spent less than £6 on a screen cleaner fluid for my son’s laptop  using Amazon Prime, I then received two requests for feedback (on a product I’ll never use).

    First Amazon came knocking. They wrapped three questions into one answer (ouch), not sure I’ve seen that in any MRS training manual. The third of which isn’t applicable to most customers. The questions are also about the seller who Amazon highlight as unnamed ‘seller’. Well the seller to me is Amazon. I bought my product through their platform and I paid them. So, the buck starts and stops with them surely?

    And then the actual seller approaches me and ask more questions. They want to know about the product. They want ‘2 min’ of my time, that’s twice as long as it took to buy the product! I am then confused because the refer to leaving a review on Amazon ‘for millions of shoppers awaiting your feedback’. As useful as screen cleaner is, I’m not sure four times the population of Iceland are glued to their screens uncertain of their

    screen clean purchase until I make my case for it! Sack (at least) the copywriter.

    And then I look at the choices for feedback which feel rather loaded to me. I asked my 11-year-old son whether he was ‘very happy with the screen clean’. He looked at me like I was mad. I didn’t pursuit it.

    Whose benefit is it for after all?

    The value of customer feedback is to improve things for the customer. However, when the focus is on socialising the feedback, the priority shifts to getting volume with the intention of creating a free (weak) marketing tool. And undermining the importance of insight collection for the rest of us at the same time.

    Shortly afterwards, we bought a £180 keyboard for our other son’s birthday. That’s a significant purchase to us, and emotively means something as I want my son’s face to be full of joy on his big day. So how it was presented online, the reviews, the packaging, the delivery and how it performed really mattered.  However, because we get feedback requests for everything we buy on Amazon, I can’t be bothered to feedback on anything from them anymore.

    Listening but not hearing what really matters

    Digital capability has really enabled the popularity of this continuous feedback obsession. Where an interaction occurs (either commercial or service based), there’s an opportunity to capture feedback. Sometimes it feels appropriate, other times it’s as welcome as a powercut. The driver is the need for vendors platforms to consume vast lakes of data to ensure analytics are substantial (and some price per response aware of this dependency too, although most have moved beyond this pricing model now).

    What happens when the digital data collection touch-point isn’t there? 

    Silence! I was in my local 3 shop a couple of weeks ago. We have 5 devices with them. Some had finished their initial contracts, but I hadn’t been contacted, so I have been paying a fair chunk more than I needed to for months (thanks). The service rep had to switch between two CISCO systems to see my devices and actually needed to look at my 3 app to get the details. But much of the information was missing, such as how much I pay. It made it very difficult to work out what was what. In fact, we resulted to a scrap of paper from my pocket and a pen to work things out. By the end of it we’d worked out I could be about £90 a month better off. That conversation turned me from being frustrated to impressed with his perseverance.

    But at the end of it I hadn’t completed a transaction so there was no survey triggered. I’d gone from detractor to promoter but I couldn’t feedback my more important observations on the lack the integration between the app and the retail tech experience or the impact a lack of transparency has had on my confidence in 3, the neglectful CRM system, or most importantly (in my mind) the patience and brilliance of the service rep (not sales rep because he didn’t try and push things on me). But he turned it around. In all the time I’ve had 3 contracts, that was the moment that has mattered most, and 3 missed it. How many organisations miss moments because their listening posts are tied to technology platforms capabilities?

    This highlights the challenge faced by VoC managers in gathering feedback appropriately, from the right customers, when it matters most to them,  not the organisation.

    The customer feedback asset journey map is usually an interesting one but ironically often neglected.

    With so much to learn, but so many trying to learn from it customer feedback must be treated with as much importance as any other customer experience reflecting its value to the company. Otherwise you will get less than you put in and could find your feedback programme cited as a driver of customer attrition – ouch!

    Posted by Chistopher Brooks, Customer Consultant, Lexden (London)

    If you’d like to receive more articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our free monthly ‘Customer Experience Update’.

    Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.



  • Are customers being unfair on Ryanair? September 29 2017

    It’s been difficult to miss the recent trauma caused to the Ryanair brand following its announcement that its pilots are off on holiday for the rest of the year. An estimated 2% of flights were to be cancelled, meaning very few ‘customers’ are impacted (according to them).

    ‘Have your say’ poll below

    I’m one of the 98%, whose flights went ahead, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t aware or affected by the situation. I have still seen all the news and abuse they been getting in the press and social media. It’s also crashed into my customer journey when I flew because I had to put more effort in to remove the anxiety involved with sticking with Ryanair.

    When I saw the initial announcement, I had flights booked to Copenhagen for business. I didn’t know if they intended to publish a cancellation but heard stories of passengers being told two hours beforehand that their flight had been cancelled. I was due to run two days of customer journey mapping workshops, so couldn’t take the risk.

    I booked the flights originally because of the convenience factor of them. I’d be departing from an airport close to me and at a time that suited. The cost of the flights matters less to me. a lot less than an airline honouring a flight where there are dependencies at the other end.

    So, I booked back-up flights in case the Ryanair flights were cancelled and I didn’t know whether they’d tell passengers about cancellations. The back-up flights were from an airport 90 mins further away from me than the Ryanair flights, so a lot less convenient, but at least I knew I’d get there if mine were cancelled which had now become a more important criteria than convenience.

    When the cancellation list was published my flight was not on it. But as a colleague said, ‘when you buy cheap, you end up buying twice’. Ryanair positions itself at the cheap end of the cheap brand spectrum, so the old advertiser’s wife’s tale certainly came true for me. In fact, I’ve ended up lining the pockets of two other airlines they compete with just so I can use Ryanair.

    Is Ryanair being unfair to me as a customer? 

    I don’t think it is. I understand I am a transaction to Ryanair and not a customer. It’s always been that way. I accept that to afford the price of their ticket I need to lower my expectations. I need to sacrifice quality and a lot more besides because we enter into a transaction, not a customer relationship. That’s the trade. If I want to be treated like a customer, I should choose an alternative carrier. I get that.

    So it’s my choice and they don’t try and present themselves as anything more than that, so we get along just fine. In fact, I’ve booked over twenty trips so far this and a noticeable proportion of those have been with Ryanair so I hop it’s commercially viable for them too.

    But will everyone feel the same?

    From a share price perspective, they are 25pts up on where they were this time last year. But what’s your view? Complete the survey below and see what others think too.

    Will passengers change their airline?

    Perhaps those who have lost hundreds on hotels and car hire will be less likely to consider Ryanair, especially as they cant get refunds from their travel insurers for which Ryanair state legally isn’t their problem.

    People who had events and activities planned like visiting family abroad for key birthdays, weddings organised or taking friends and loved ones away for much anticipated trips might hold a long term resentment if they can reschedule at no extra cost.

    I know they have slim margins and are looking for me to demonstrate my fallible human side and make a mistake (e.g. I forget to check in 2 hours before hand or I need a drink of water and pay €3 on board when it costs 69p if i’d remembered to get it before I flew, or if show weakness and exercise my right to sit with my wife and young sons on the flight and pay for seats to do so). Those extras are part of their business model, they need to protect them.

    But in return, they don’t expect me to be ‘very satisfied’ with the experience. they don’t expect me to tell others to use their airline, they don’t expect me to be loyal to them and they don’t expect me to enjoy using Ryanair. It’s a transaction. We both know where we stand and I think it works pretty well.

    Can I remember when I travelled with Ryanair and where to? No, it’s a pretty forgettable experience.

    Can I tell you how good the experience was? I didn’t notice anything, but I didn’t expect to.

    Can I recall a positive memorable moment from dealing with them? They are not creating happy memories. That’s not what cheap brands do. 

    Would I tell others to choose them? No, but that’s not important to them. They aren’t looking to give me any reason to do so and I have no reason to tell anyone else to use them.

    If I want a memorable flight I should choose another airline. Ryanair do not have the margins or the brand to satisfy customers, so why would they focus on it?

    Does this episode reaffirms Ryanair’s brand, rather than damage it?

    I’ve also found the Ryanair cancellation was a hot topic amongst the Swiss, German, Danish and Belgium attendees at the workshop. It seems others are not so accommodating. Listening to the discussion amongst the international group of business travellers, I hadn’t appreciated how wide reaching this incident had become.

    Some decided to use a different airline to get to the workshop to previously used Ryanair. They said it was a nice experience so they would carry on now they’d realised the flight experience was important to them.

    But we shouldn’t be disappointed in Ryanair. The incident itself and how they have conducted themselves throughout the flight cancellation saga has been true to their brand. Whether it’s not publishing the cancellation list early enough, putting pilots holidays before passengers holidays, sitting in front of an advertising poster of smiling actors posing on a beach as the CEO says sorry we can’t fly some of you to the beach or not sharing compensation information legally obliged to until the regulator barks, they been consistent.

    All these have been executed perfectly in line with the values of Ryanair. Few other companies could turn a crisis in to such as demonstration of unwavering alignment to their brand.

    Posted by Chistopher Brooks, Customer Consultant, Lexden (London)

    If you’d like to receive more articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our free monthly ‘Customer Experience Update’.

    Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.



  • Highlights from the 2017 Manchester Customer Experience Conference September 24 2017

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

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

    Why I chose the Manchester CX Conference  

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

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

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

    What I learnt at the Manchester CX Conference

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

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

    My five CX take outs from the day were:

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

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

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

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

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

    On reflection, I gained.

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

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

    Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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



  • Adidas and the case of the Consistent Cross-Border CX delivery August 8 2017

    Last year I was impressed by the customer experience delivered by the Adidas flagship branch in Paris. Whilst we didn’t buy

    anything on the relaxed family holiday visit, my 10 year old spots mad son has gone on to become a fan of Adidas with it often being his first choice. Fast forward one year and I’m charged by Henry, my son with purchasing a specific Adidas flip flop (Havanas now ditched) it’s all about the flop and the sock. Who would have thought flip flops and socks would be in style.

    Following a meeting in Holborn so dressed in business suit an tie this time, I headed to Oxford Street and specifically the Adidas shop. Would I find consistency in the customer experience in a different country, looking like a different ‘customer segment’ and with a purchase ticket price of just £15?

    Absolutely. It was like being back in Paris!

    The decor and style of the store was consistent (and so it should be you could say). The Adidas brand promotes itself as ‘only the best for the athlete’, so the store was full of decor which demonstrated they are serious about this. From running machines, twitter feeds of athletic endeavours happening now around the world by customers and the brand alike, to athletically posed mannequins and energetic happy staff bouncing across the shop floors with a spring in every step and an attitude that says, ‘only the best means best service too’. Smiles all round.

    I’m no world authority on flip flops so when armed with details limited to size, price and a rough description, I was grateful to two members of staff who searched stockrooms for me to find the pair that matched my son’s criteria.  For one member of staff this meant it being at the same time as being briefed on new lines by a supervisor. This showed to me, they are always on, with a demonstration that both service and an updated product knowledge are equally important to customers so neither should be neglected for the other.

    Plus things move fast in the world of sport. Hence this novel ‘magnetic’ board to display items and change daily or even hourly depending on what product lines are to be featured.

    I left the store feeling uplifted and convinced that everyone who worked there lived and breathed athleticism, making it feel fun accessible for all – even when you turn up in a suit!

    The decor massively reflecting this, with it’s attention to detail from every corner of the store, amplifying the differentiated brand experience Adidas offers compared to other more general soulless sports superstores.

    England. France. Shopping with son. Shopping in suit. Football Boots. Flip Flops – the same Adidas experience.

    Keep it up Adidas, unsung heroes of Customer Experience.

    Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director Lexden [Independent Customer Experience Consultancy]

    Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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

     


  • How bottled water, fresh fruit and Ipads build a more emotive Customer Experience July 18 2017

    I was judging at the FS CX awards last week. Each year the standard and the activation ideas improve. With some significant developments such as retail banks shifting from business discipline silos to customer journey org structures and others ditching CSAT and other measures in exchange for measuring their ability to fulfil ‘what matters to customers’.

    It was a day of inspiration. And being a day time judging and dinner event, I returned home by Greater Anglia train at a reasonable time, stopping at Tesco to pick up some provisions on my way home. At the event, the passion, the performance and the future potential of the finalists impressed me. But so did Greater Anglia and Tesco in their own small way too.

    Reflecting on what I’d heard at the event I realised that for all the strategically sound structure and progressive programming, it was the emotionally engaging stories of how customer-led thinking had resulted in a betterment for customers which were staying with me. Especially because the organisations believed it would mean they would retain the heart and the purse of the customer.

    It’s the same when I think about the ever increasing number of ‘professional’ speakers on the CX circuit, for all their philosophy without practice experience, it is their emotionally connecting self stories of CX that stick.

    With the right framework to ensure ‘what matters most and when’ is prioritised, and is designed consistent to amplify the strength of the brand across all experience activity, any organisation can create it’s own set of low cost, emotionally engaging experiences which customers value, and motivate colleagues.

    Here are three which I encountered on the aforementioned day of judgement:

    1. Greater Anglia offering bottles of water, for free, to help passengers with the sustained spell of warm weather. It might not have been their idea and it might be an investment to minimise the impact of not being able to deal with dehydrated customers, but leaving cynicism at the ticket gate if I may, this is a lovely gesture.

    Whilst not own-able I accept, it doesn’t need to be. It just fulfils a need for a customer, whose route to work is ingrained, they probably only think about refreshment on a hot day when they are half way there.

    2. Tesco offering free fruit to children of shoppers. I recall a few years ago working with the Tesco group, before CX really took hold. They were attempting to reaffirm their difference through hundreds of small improvements to the customers experience. Some we see, such as this, others are more operational but help customers in the long run.

    So whilst this could be Every Little Helps #147, it stands out because of the benefit to parents, who often need a pacifier for children in store and feel guilty about serving up sweet treats and the children (and from what i can see in our store it’s working) who still seek a distracting pacifier to keep them occupied, but now have one which is good for them. Which in turn is good for the parents soul too.

    3. GI provider discovers speaking to the grand kids on Facebook comes before rebuilding the house. I am sure this is becoming common place practice with Home insurance providers, but it’s great when you hear it being delivered all the same. When treated as a standard insurance claim, customers are taken care of through a logical but generic risk management process with steps to put people who encounter a flood or a fire, back to the position they were in before it occurred. That’s what insurance does after all.

    Typically the big things like temporary accommodation and assessing what’s damaged are the first steps to be undertaken. But that’s often not what is on the customer’s mind. If you ask them, ‘what do you want done first?’ it’s a more personal and human request pertinent to the life and behaviours they’ve established. For instance, the example I heard was a couple whose house had been impacted had wanted a replacement Ipad because the highlight of their week is a Sunday catch up with their grandchildren in Australia.

    I’ve gathered quite a catalogue of these small improvements on my travels. If you have your own, please comment below, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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

    Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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

     

     

    Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_stockbroker’>stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo</a>


  • What’s are the hot topics on the CX Event agenda this year? June 26 2017

    From what I heard, ‘It´s (still) about the emotions and the figures’

    Speaking to various participants and listening to the key note speeches at Germany’s CX Forum 2017 earlier this month, I tried as always to get a sense of ‘the’ questions which are driving the CX scene here in Germany.

    There was no surprise that the responses are highly dependent on the CX maturity level of the companies involved. But priority points most often heard were:

    • How do I prove and link figures to CX activities?
    • How do I get the ‘people’ on board?

    Our own experience with assignments across Europe echoes these two points as well. it seems conventional thinking on what is a sound measure of CX and some of the ‘lean’ style transformation programme approaches adopted for customer experience have created problems for organisations hoping to progress with CX.

    Why is this?

    One reason is many companies settle for a measure which is easy to obtain and simpler to report when it comes to CX. So whilst the business is interested in what drives profit, the CX team is reporting how many customers (say they) are promoting the business? Evidence from studies conducted by Dr Prof Phil Klaus (Author: Measuring Customer Experience) show a less than 1% correlation between ‘recommend’ measures and profit. Not the sort of weapon you want to take in to the boardroom when it comes to justifying CX investment!

    The good news is that we are finding many are waking up to the value of the right CX measures and the investment in cultural change required to support CX.

    And more good news: B2B companies are now asking for the applicability and best practice for their businesses when it comes to CX. The top 10 messages shared are not new, but probably cannot be repeated often enough for new entrants into CX, and as reminders for the converted:

    1. Make sure you have your sponsor on-board and understanding the commercial potential from CX
    2. Measure, measure, measure what matters to customers – but what CX drives behaviour change as well as inference and sentiment (such as NPS and CSAT)
    3. CX, like all strategic imperatives, takes time to establish, normalise and create return. It is a journey of discovery for organisations with several steps to take before reaching ‘the land of unicorns’ (quote Stefan Osthaus)
    4. Stop over surveying. Feedback fatigue is a modern virus. Start watching more.
    5. Bring CEOs in contact with the real world in creative ways (Samsung’s channel: Email to CEO is a great example of this)
    6. Don’t forget we measure for the ‘why’ not the ‘how many’ verbatim from CX are a much more valuable source for improvement than a score of -3 or +28.
    7. Involve your people and take care of them like you take care of your customers. employee experience is not a nice to have, it’s a fundamental. Colleagues who feel the value of CX, deliver the value of CX.
    8. Use methodology and techniques like customer journey mapping for a structured approach. It’s amazing how many organisations map the customer journey from a ‘how it impacts our process’ perspective. Start with the customer problem, to arrive at a better outcome overall.
    9. Know your customer before starting other effort – not demographically but what makes them tick, what drives their choices and what fulfils them. Think ZMET.
    10. Think digital but with the customer experience in mind – not the technology. Digital first is really modern customer first. Don’t sacrifice engagement for effortless or satisfaction for self-serve.

    Events are great to get a sense of where your industry is in it’s growth. I went through a storm of mixed feelings during the day. In the morning, I was happy to see 170 participants name tags. Compared to last year there were more titles and roles included in Customer Experience.  it’s a great sign that CX has arrived in the organisational setup.

    Having said that I went to the state of shock at the podium discussion in the of the day: Were they seriously arguing which department (!) was best to lead CX in companies?  Sad but true – in times of discussing agile working ‘old world’ is still out there. We still have many who just don’t get it or see CX as a new model for a quick buck – beware of these pretenders!

    There were some other moments which connected with me emotionally:

    • I had admiration for the guy from ThinkPen with his great visualisations of the key notes. My brain and I just love that kind of communication.
    • I was amused about Prof. Heinemann who is the digital optimist and her entertaining ‘show’ after lunch on why digitalisation is no revolution but more yesterday’s news as it is out there everywhere already. Although quite a few companies in Germany still think it´s a buzz word and do not align it with the purpose of their business. Mmmh… not so amusing!
    • Respect for all the companies who have the courage to and share their learnings like Stepstone, even though they have just started
    • I was thankful for the openness during the sessions as well as the breaks. Once again I experienced the people who were very enthusiastic on the matter of CX and eager to learn and share.
    • And not to also thank the team from MaritzCX for pulling together this event in times where time is limited and precious. Nothing is more worthwhile then talking to others who are battling the same grounds.

    And finally, a take away from Markus Nessler’s presentation on Samsung’s path to superior CX: Online Channels upfront are great but in the end the trend is clear: Customer still love personal contacts – CX is clearly a people business! And that’s from a world leader in technology.

    There are many CX events throughout the year. Pick which ones you go to wisely. And be prepared to share if you want to learn.

    Posted by Karin Glattes, MD & CX Consultant, Lexden (Germany)

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    Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

     

     



  • 3½ Customer Experience Lessons from Copenhagen Airport May 19 2017

    Airports are busy places with many different stakeholders with very different objectives. In that environment, the end customer can often be forgotten or marginalised. Whether it’s being taken on a meandering detour through a retail jungle when you are in search of a departure gate, struggling to understand why it feels like there is only one loo for every 1,000 passengers or having to sprint to meet the person picking you up so they avoid a £50 fine for waiting to greet you for more than 5 minutes.

    That said, despite pressures from retailers and regulators, some airports can be inspirations with a wealth of Customer Experience ideas for any practitioners to learn.

    #1 Managing your customers’ expectations

    Too often brands miss the opportunity to reduce their customer’s anxiety. Filling the gaps explaining what will happen next and when it will happen not only legitimise the important on-going engagement with customers, but it also demonstrates they know how to help customers, recognising enhancing their emotional state connects with customers at a deeper level.

    It’s played out brilliantly here. The time it will take to get to the departure gate is blasted to the ground. The anxious passenger can now assess their situation and with every 30 second increment displayed, they can track their progress. If enough time, the passenger can relax more. If the passenger is short of time, they can speed up. Either way the signpost on what is otherwise a redundant space is helpful and increasing appreciation of the airport.

    #2 Personalising the experience

    I’ll never forget being at an Airline conference where a customer aviation expert claimed the future of airline travel was about personalisation. Only to then present several airline ticket, insurance and hotel bundles labelled as ‘the weekender’ and ‘family fun’ proposition which he boasted when bought together were actually more expensive than the individual parts. But it would be made so complicated that customers wouldn’t be able to work it out. Even worse than this, the audience applauded!  I felt very alone sitting on that panel debate.

    Personalisation means something very different to me. I feel this example explains it well. At Copenhagen, like many airports all passengers need to pass through the baggage collection section to get to the exit. Those with only hand luggage don’t need to get caught up in there, so this example below is personalised to that segment.

    The only thing that matters to this audience is getting through the airport fast and one with their trip – after all it’s in part why they’ve crammed everything in to their hand luggage. This message connects with what matters most to that customer type. Personal doesn’t need to be 1 to 1, it’s about being relevant to specific needs.

    #3 Keep customers before you lose them

    Some sectors are guilty of this more than others. Here’s the scenario. The retail company knows it has a problem with it’s returns because they see social media noise and get angry calls to the call centre. But it’s not tracked in VoC because the VoC vendor hasn’t scoped it in their requirements. So, first the additional work is scoped and paid for. Feedback is then collected. There is a delay in acting on the feedback until there is enough evidence to make it statistically valid. The CX team get to work on it (maybe after some more mapping) and eventually the team identify it’s down to the poor service contract in place with the outsourced collection courier company. But procurement say the contract is locked down for 12 more months on the terms agreed (which were never checked with customers). Following which a change can be looked at. 6 months on and the CX team start to work out what’s needed (a new collection courier company) and put together the Requirements Specification for a new vendor selection process. Which they initiate 6 months later.

    In the meantime all the customers have left!

    Why not share progress with customers throughout? If you know something’s wrong, flag it. As you start to get an inclination of what’s gone wrong, get on to it. Don’t wait for the 75th complaint to make it valid. And tell your customers you know it’s not working, why and that you are on to it. Share your plans with on how you will get it right and by when. Offer customers the chance to put in their views to help get to a better place.

    This example explains why there is disruption, what the improved airport areas will offer and helps passengers engage with the change. Even if they don’t get to benefit from the change they know it’s happening and why so are comfortable with it. So rather than moan about disruption, they can appreciate the move from ‘AS IS’ to ‘TO BE’.

    So that just leave the extra 1/2

    For me this is about observation. Customer Experience is all around us. We interact and are a part of a company’s intentions every day. There are lessons to learn daily.

    I didn’t make a b-line for Copenhagen Airport to write a blog on my customer experience observations, I was there to help a client structure a business case for CX investment against return. But whether it’s walking through Copenhagen Airport on the return leg of a work trip, purchasing corner flags online from Sports Direct for a team development workshop (which turn up after they were needed) or noting how many companies follow-up and remember what you were interested at the Grand Designs Show (AXA weren’t making the most of their investment there – I’m still waiting for a follow-up two weeks later), opportunity for CX ideas are everywhere.

    So, put a Moleskin pocket-book on your birthday list, set you iPhone to camera mode and build your own insight bank of CX ideas and inspiration as you go about your daily business.

    In the meantime, feel free to review our blogs, or contact me to borrow examples from my much cherished collection.

    To finish, when it comes to finding new ideas for CX, as Ferris Bueller, the most eligible bachelor of them all put it…

    Happy CX hunting.

    Posted by Christopher Brooks.  Director, Lexden Limited, Customer Experience Consultancy.

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    Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.



  • Free Customer Experience Progress Assessment May 8 2017 As independent Customer Experience Consultants, we have launched a free Customer Experience Programme Assessment tool to help clients review their internal practices against several areas where alignment is required to achieve distinction through customer experience.

    We see the benefit to you as follows:

    • Identify the key areas involved in progressing CX
    • Identify where you are ahead or behind others in terms of your CX progress
    • Assess what progress looks like, to ensure you are good shape to get there
    • Help you assess where you are ahead of any resource decisions coming up
    • Get a quick read (within 3 days) with minimum impact on the business
    • Provide current state insight which you can share with others helping you take CX forward
    • Validate or challenge advice and recommendations received from current CX partners
    • Receive an independent observation separate to any vendor supported opinions

    As independents we have no invested interest in the outcome

    We include consideration of feedback platforms and other technologies alongside the other key areas of CX rather than the focus as is often the case with vendor assessments. We are in the business of best practice guidance and effective advice rather than tech solutions. So our report provides you with a broader appreciation of how far you’ve progressed. Each of the key practice areas (such as channel management, accountability, tech, adoption, measurement and culture) are graded from ‘Unaware’ to ‘Differentiating. The grading is based on Lexden’s extensive experience in setting up and improving clients CX programmes. Your progress is plotted accordingly with an output report highlighting your overall progress and breaking this down across key areas. A comparison of your performance to other companies is also made across each area. More than one assessment per company can be completed. This means you can use the approach to gauge the variance in perceptions of CX progress across the business between different individuals, levels, roles, departments, locations or even brands in a group set up. Let us know if this is the intended purpose and we will aggregate results as well as supply specific reports. Click this link to the survey which will take 10-15 minutes to complete. Information collected is confidential. Once the assessment is complete we will confirm this and forward the output within 3 days.

    How to achieve 600% from your Customer Experience Programme

    If you are looking for something more comprehensive we also provide a robust assessment of the profitability level your CX programme is achieving, bench-marked against over 1,000 organisations. Adapting the award winning CX Typology(c) Measuring Customer Experience research of Dr Professor Phil Klaus, we assess your current programme against 47 practice points. Arriving at a score, CXPPA (Customer Experience Programme Profitability Assessments) pin points where improvements in your programme should be focused, and how to align your actions to those of organisation who are driving 600% more from their CX programmes. To receive more information on this exclusive assessment please contact us. [contact-form] If you’d like to receive more articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our free monthly ‘Customer Experience Update’. Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience. If you’ve got a CX challenge, see if we can help.

  • Are you wasting money on Customer Experience? April 26 2017

    With 90% of CEO’s prioritising Customer Experience as a leading business practice(1), financial scrutiny on performance will only increase to retain board confidence and commitment. However, 90% of programmes are failing to deliver (2) their potential.

    How can you be sure Customer Experience investment is correctly prioritised?

    Most manuals and professional CX speakers would advise practioners to fix what’s upsetting customers and move on to making a point of distinction on what they rave about. Which should push up satisfaction and recommendation scores.

    However, both these customer experience strategies require investment to succeed. What if there is no budget? Can you ‘hedge’ the required investment against incremental sales/profit this focus will deliver? It’s probably not that safe to do so. Evidence shows that only 1% of share of category can be reliably attributed back to these conventional measures (email me if you want more on why this is).

    A more linear approach is to show the reduction in ‘bad demand’ operational costs associated with managing activities creating negative feedback on specific touchpoints. This would show an accountable reduction in costs. Albeit costs created by a bad customer experience in the first place. So should they be classed as a win, or an own goal? Either way, it’s a start.

    This gives you the two more common strategies for CX growth pursued:

    1. Improve that which the business is poor at but customer’s value (also known as the ‘Fix’ phase)
    2. Leverage that which the business is good at and customer’s value (also known as ‘Build’ phase)

    The shortfall here is that the hit list for these strategies rely on customer’s feeding back about what’s great and what’s not. But what if customers don’t vex about an issue? And why wouldn’t they –  because it’s not on their radar? What if there’s nothing wrong or right about an experience but because it’s not important to customers it never gets raised? With most VoC set ups if you don’t hear about it often it gets considered not worth looking at.

    A conventional approach focuses on capturing feedback on customer’s sentiment and intention. But as proved on most voting days, intention and behaviour are often distant relatives. Whereas, understanding actual behaviour caused by Customer Experience is evidence of what customer’s do.

    So rather than only asking how satisfied a customer is with an activity or experience, or which activities they are satisfied with or otherwise, understanding how important an activity is to a customer’s share of category commitment brings behavioural based measurement in to CX. Actual behaviour is a significantly more reliable indicator of decision making than intention.

    This moves the focus from knowing some of what’s going on, to knowing everything

    With fix and build programmes linked to CSAT and NPS inferred scores, there is a read on, ‘what we are good at and what we are not so good at’. By complimenting this with behavioural change insights we are now answering, ‘what customer experiences matters most to a customer’s decision to commit share of category’. This adds the missing commercial dimension to CX performance management and with it reveals two further CX strategies for practioners to pursue. As well as sharpen the purpose of the ‘Improve’ and ‘Leverage’ strategies too:

    1. Monitor and refine/remove CX which the business is poor at and does not impact customer’s decision to commit to us
    2. Improve CX which the business is poor at but impacts customer’s decision to commit to us
    3. Leverage CX which the business is good at impacts customer’s decision to commit to us
    4. Explore the potential in CX Opportunities which the business is good at but does not impact customer’s decision to commit to us

    These are shown in Lexden’s MILO matrix below, which enables prioritisation of CX investment.

    Lexden’s CX MILO Matrix

    The ‘Monitor’ strategy identifies investment which is under-performing and not needed (or as the headline state where a company is ‘wasting money on CX’).

    With conventional feedback this insight isn’t unearthed because it’s the customer experience that doesn’t matter to customers, so it rarely gets asked for or feedback provided – whether it’s good or bad. But if this collated less meaningful activity can be refined, reduced or removed and rationalised costs redeployed to the ‘Improve’ and ‘Leverage’ strategies.

    Which leaves the ‘Opportunity’ strategy, which provides untapped potential for new areas to consider. These could provide future advantage in a maturing CX-led organisation if reshaped and made important to the customer’s decision making or outcomes fulfilment.

    You may be questioning this only works if you know what activities matter in the first place, and their relative degree of importance. If you were starting from scratch that would take longer and cost more to work out than would be of use.

    Fortunately, the missing golden insight is already available

    Leading CX academic Dr Professor Phil Klaus developed a quality of experience measure which identifies which customer experiences impact customer’s behavioural decisions. In conjunction with Prof Klaus, we work with this leading edge CX insight measure, which means we can now add ‘behavioural change’ insight to existing NPS and CSAT measures to create the missing commercial rigour CX deserves.

    With ten years and over 1,000 case studies complete, this award-winning insight informs companies on ‘what matters most’ and ‘what doesn’t matter at all’ when it comes to customer experiences impacting share of category decision making. By identifying the most important 25 customer attributes and experiences (refined from a total of 300), the ‘Experience Quality Measure’ accounts for up to 88% of a customer’s decision making. Making it the most reliable CX measurement available.

    Each individual study completed highlights the specific set of activities and their relative importance for that company. No two outcomes are the same making it the unique CX DNA of a company. The principal advantages of this approach are as follows:

    • It doesn’t matter which CX measure you have in place already, or which VoC platform you use, we run a one-off separate study alongside what’s already in place.
    • The volume of customer contacts engaged to arrive at the experience measure is around 125, so it’s a much smaller study all round, than a VoC programme commitment
    • We are now into our third year working with the approach and translating the academic science into a more workable and accessible insight source for clients to prove profitability from CX
    • The measurement won’t shift overnight, because it’s based on actual behaviour change, not just opinion. So, we recommend capturing and tracking progress annually
    • Competitor data is also captured which means we also know 1) who else has your customer’s share of category and 2) what customer experiences attract your customers to them
    • This insight can be identified and the MILO matrix complete within 8 weeks

    So, there you have it. The ability to identify what drives share of category rather than just favourable commentary.  The confidence to pull out from your plan those activities which matters least. The insight to keep ahead of your competition in CX. Which means CX leaders can demonstrate to budget holders that CX investment isn’t being wasted. In fact, with all four of the MILO strategies pursed it’s driving profitable growth.

    If you’d be interested to see how it works with a case study or how easy it is to add this essential CX insight to the CX governance, please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com 

    If you’d like to receive more of these, and other articles on driving more profitable Customer Experience, please sign up to our newsletter.

    Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience. If you’ve got a CX challenge, see if we can help.

    (1) Bain (2) Dr Professor Phil Klaus


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