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Customer Experience

  • Avoid making a dogs dinner of your Customer Experience August 29 2018

    I had the rare opportunity to make a first hand impression of two competitors customer experience. It highlighted to me how two companies can have very different views of what matters most to customers, and consequently where investment and importance is placed.

    With a new puppy joining our family we agreed to take her with us on holiday. Both Eurotunnel and Brittany Ferries accommodate, or in fairness I should say encourage pets to travel with their owners so

  • Beware of the vanity project within customer experience August 29 2018

    ‘Customer Experience’ is a very popular business expression these days. It features heavily in everything from boardroom agendas, to Amazon book lists, to the events & conference circuit to LinkedIn posts.

    But what you must be careful of is making sure you only reading content relating to the correct of the two wildly different definitions of customer experience which have been established. One is a force for gain for all, the other a force for gain for a few.

    The correct and healthy CX focus if one that delivers value to clients and their customers and has been around since before ‘CX’ had a label. It is expressed (broadly) as follows:

    “The value created from the sum of the interactions between a customer and company throughout the term of their relationship”

    The focus here is on helping companies to identify what matters most to their customers and how to improve the associated experience to attract an increasing level of commitment from customers on a sustainable basis.

    And there are a myriad of great books (see below), helpful practitioners guidance notes and insightful case studies to fuel your CX thinking. These are penned and provided by some great practitioners who happily stay in the wings; clientside or consultants who recognise the solutions are the true heroes and they are merely the enablers.

    Accepting CX evolves and everything from customer expectations to the way it’s measured updates with it are the hallmarks of progressive and proactive professionals in CX. We’ve found being connected with an elite number of practitioners, professionals and professors in CX keeps us up to date and always seeking a higher ground.

    This is an inclusive approach where the collective create gains for clients and customers alike dominate. Customer comes first.

    I was approached to write a book on CX. In response to which I pointed out the set below – explaining there are enough books covering many angles.What more could be said. So now the effort should be on application. 
    So it’s very important to avoid the second definition of customer experience:

    “The value created by often uqualified individuals or companies using CX primarily as a means to create personal financial gain”

    Sadly these leads to many mediocre books, second rate speakers (poor content overpowered by delivery style) and case studies (without the context connected). These serve the providers and presenters well,feeding egos and euros in equal measure. But they are nothing more than re-purposed content often featuring outdated or unsubstantiated ‘observations’ from others or outdated polished pomp. But it’s getting easier to spot these pretenders from the true professionals.

    CX is an evolving discipline and many of the conventional ideas, models and measures have been proven less reliable. Like a one hit pop star, it’s a challenge to dismiss previous hits if they provide an income, so the ‘CX pretenders’ continue to play to any audience willing to listen.

    Their advice and inspiring soundbites may quench a thirst and even taste good but will ultimately be difficult to digest and add little to no value, soon leaving you hungry again.

    So how can you tell the good from the bad? Simply beware of those putting ME before the CUSTOMER. Now we’ve shared the signs, you’ll spot them every time you pick up a CX book click open a webinar, pay to hear a speaker or scan an article on customer experience. 

    But if you are unsure simply ask of anything CX related, ‘does it put the customer first?’. If the answer no, walk away.

    Posted by Christopher Brooks, fan of progressive and productive CX which inspires practitioners and delivers gains to clients by generating genuine value for their customers.


  • 10 reasons why Employee Experience will improve your Customer Experience June 22 2018

    I once attended a meeting discussing with a company who had an issue with their speed of delivery and getting it right first time. What they delivered was falling below expectation of customers and they wanted to put in place processes to speed things up. We intended to kick-off by reviewing the correlation between this issue and attrition, so it was a key to resolve.

    Five minutes in to the meeting one of the attendees excused himself and popped out, without explanation. They arrived back 5 minutes later. I asked what happened and he said he’d forgotten his notes for the meeting. Ten minutes after we started another of their colleagues arrived, apologising for being late with explanation and everyone carried on.

    At this point I asked how confident they were they could fix things. They said because it was simply a process issue it would be fine. I played back the lateness and incorrect information at the meeting. They recognised it was more than a process, it was cultural.

    Lack of cultural alignment of CX is the second most cited reason for failure of customer experience. The focus for this company then shifted from customer experience to employee experience. It was agreed standards needed to be established which changed behaviours. With the employee experience improved, many of the customer experience issues disappear, specifically much of the bad demand – as in this case.

    You can’t complete one without the other, but neither should you separate them. Working on customer experience initiatives is a great mechanic for staff to value the importance of delivering a great employee experience too.

    10 stats highlighting the importance of Employee Experience on Customer Experience

    How understand how you can improve your customer experience performance through a more resilient and rewarding customer experience contact

    Lexden | the Customer Experience Practice 


  • How to embrace weather conditions with customer experience May 1 2018

    Depending on which report you’ve read, Brits spend between 6 and 10 months of their lives complaining about the weather. We grumbled because it was too wet in March and then put our winter coats away in mid April when we saw a glimmer of sun only to get them down a week later when the heavens opened again And now we are out in t-shirts and shorts once more. All of which provides a wonderful source for a moan about ‘will it make it’s mind up’.

    So how have companies tapped into this nation obsessed by the weather?

    Here are three examples of organisations who have used the weather conditions to demonstrate their value to their customers through enhanced customer experiences.

    Chessington Rainy Days Experience Promise

    This isn’t unique to Chessington. In fact, Blackpool Pleasure beach and many others offer it too. For Chessington it’s a wonderfully simple message, ‘you don’t need to stay away because of potential bad weather’.

    Not only do they highlight the park is typically quieter when it rains, so you get to experience more, but they offer a free like-for-like return day pass if you come on a day it rains.

    Just one hour of rain entitles you to a return trip.


    Direct Line drones help lifeboat searches

    Lifeboat crews often rely on their eyes to spot a person in the water. When the weather is against them, it’s a race against time in poor visibility. The lifeboat can only cover a small space at a time.

    Direct Line have invested in a batch of drones for Caister Lifeboat rescue. These coordinate as one using mobile-controlled “mesh networking” tech meaning they can cover a far greater reach than before. It means the lifeboat crew can find people at sea five times faster.

    For me this demonstrates to customers a couple of things about Direct Line; 1) where technology can reduce risk, they will use it and 2) they are always thinking about how to help others. These are two attributes that are easy to say, but hard to demonstrate unless a claim is made. They call it high performance fixes for everyday problems. With initiatives such as this, Direct Line project the experience their customers can expect should something go wrong.

    Hive’s IFTTT channel triggered by the weather

    ‘If this then that’ is a principal logic which connects several devices together to trigger actions based on conditions identified between them. For instance when driving home in your BMW, Hive recognises the temperature around the car, so it can change the heating settings at home. Similarly, if you are out having a run and connect your Strava fitness app, Hive Active thinking will track your closeness from home and make sure the hot water is read for a bath (Strava is less about the weather, but a nice illustration all the same).

    All three of these, and others such as framing management apps, are great examples of how brands can take something as unpredictable as the British weather and use it to improve their own customer experience.

    How do you get to ideas like this?

    You need to think beyond the conventional customer journey map. Start at the end rather than the beginning. Understand the exceptional customer fulfilment that can be achieved and work back. If you go beyond the map you can discover new customer opportunities which you can fulfil with existing assets. If you stick to close to touch-point management, you’ll miss the disruption storm that’s going on around you.

    Of course, keep close to touch-points to deliver an excellent (but often expected) customer experience, but stand back from it to find exceptional experiences to shine.

    For more on disruptive customer experience techniques contact us and find out how we can help improve your customer experience.

    Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Specialist, Lexden Group, home of the independent customer experience thinkers.





  • Free listing of 2018 Customer Experience Events & Conferences April 30 2018

    Each year there are over 100 Customer Experience events and conferences. The event junkies attend at least a handful, most of us aim to get to one or two and others miss out altogether. Whichever you are, I’m sure you’ve also found out about a conference after the event that you  wished you’d attended.

    With so many events, how do you know what’s happening and when?

    Good news. At Lexden Customer Experience Consultancy, we’ve decided to pull together a listing of the CX events so you don’t miss out anymore. If you would like a free copy and updates, reply below and we will give you access to an ‘always up to date’ listing.


    We hope you find it a useful source.

    At Lexden we provide advice and support to enable customers to make the most from their customer experience. | Contact: | +00 441279 902205

  • The CX soundtrack to our lives January 17 2018 It was only a matter of time before someone pulled together this ridiculous notion. So I thought, why not me. I often dive into popular culture forms to find examples of the outcome or process I wish to convey. Which got me thinking, what would a customer experience programme sound like if it was set to music? So with that in mind, here is the Customer Experience programme soundtrack to our lives. By the way, this is cast around my limited knowledge of music, so if you feel there are better tracks to convey how things are as CX matures, then please comment. Stage 1 – Unawareness so Nothing Ever Happens  That surreal time when customers complained or fell away because of problems. Call centres acknowledged customer frustration. But unless execs could see it directly impacted the here and now sales figure, ‘Nothing Ever Happens’. From Del Amitiri, and released in 1989, this protest song about not taking responsibility for improving things for society(or in out case customers), i feel, captures that time where as a CX leader you knew there was a better way, but history kept repeating itself whilst customers defected or stayed through apathy or lack of choice. Stage 2 – Madness (from a fresh perspective) Perhaps the break though came when a piece of customer insight on the value of experience is shared – either your own, or borrowed insights. These show that the value economy had shifted from products and services to experiences. Enabled by an array of technologies, market entry and rapid growth meant super brands arrived in months with slicker smarter and more engaging experiences. Many retailers have fallen and at best those who survived have seen the standards of experience delivery expectation rise as customers no longer see as much value in the conventional differentiation points areas as they once did. Indeed, the economic value of a company’s worth has moved to how the customer experience is delivered before, during and after the transaction. At this stage, with this thought held aloft, a few brave souls embarked upon a journey of enlightenment to discover ‘what matters most to our customers’. Data highlighting the performance of the experience endured by customers supported by customer verbatim feedback on why it’s important created  conversation around investment prioritisations and ways of working. But the gathering of the right data (such as measures to identify what actually drivers customer behaviour), the understanding of what it means, and wrestling with the realisation of how far impacting across everything the company does it stretches could give you a headache. You could even say it was a time of Madness. Path A (embracing customer experience) or Path B (resisting a customer-led approach) We are at a junction here. Not all take path A. The evidence and the data can be overwhelming and challenging for some to understand. This is where, some take path B even though it feels right to start with, it will become an uncomfortable journey full of technology delays and IT contractors. This is the path of ‘digital-first’ or ‘mobile-first’ or ‘AI-first’ or ‘VoC first’ (you get the picture). Even with the sales pitch of chrome brushed applications, speed of light turnaround and ‘go-to-market’ capability, the IT priority list is clogged with ‘customer’ requests in a world which don’t forget is still ‘product (or other) focused at thus stage. At the town hall, the CEO is sending his people down path B too, ‘if we don’t have an app that customers can use and buy through, we wont have any customers.’ To the preacher its feels like they are putting customers first, but as their soundtrack would show it’s a long, long winding road with no particular place to go (another blog perhaps). So back to the more exciting Path A Stage 3 – The Impossible Dream So back to the Path A followers and with a USB stick full of customer interviews, perhaps a few AS IS journey maps and evidence of how short-term sales advantages erode value in the customer, where as customers getting a better experience stay longer, a story can be sketched. A story which dares to dream to judge the company’s purpose and prioritisation is ultimately measured against one question, ‘does it add value to the customers?’ With the right playbook, storyboard, video showreel or whatever high impact media format you choose, this should be that moment when your customer and market insight is presented in a way that the boards’ only question is, ‘why haven’t we done this before’. It’s a moment of truth for the budding CX leader so you can’t get this one wrong. Stage 4 – Absolute Beginners Whilst companies been delivering products and services to customers for hundreds of years, as they have become commodities, Customer Experience is where customers place value. So those leading the CX Strategy and Transformation have to forget much of their ingrained ways of working and rebuild process, practices, people skills, platforms and propositions (to name a few) with a very different source of ‘value’ in mind. And although many of the tasks are the same, such as gathering insight, what you ask, how, when and the interpretation requirements are very different. KPI’s are redesigned to drive value for the customer, not extract value from the customer. In fact, whilst the company has been historically been marketing itself to its customers, this is a time where the customer must be marketed to the business to get stakeholders on board. Taking time to work through the strategy, requires diligence and rigour. Getting it right here is critical. Quite often those who start the CX strategy aren’t around to see it come to fruition. That’s not such a bad thing. It’s a very different set of skills needed to reshape ways of working and win over execs than it is to drive through innovations and creative improvements. At Lexden, we use an award-winning academic CX capability assessment tool which enables a company to benchmark its current CX set-up against 1,100 brands, across 40+ activities identified as evident among the best of which achieve 600% ROI from their CX. This enables any company to understand what value they are achieving from their Customer Experience Strategy. We will also highlight where attention is needed across the CX critical dependency points and in what order – the head start you need. Getting the right stakeholders onside is easier with a strategy and programme aligned to a successful CX blueprint. As David Bowie sings in his anthemic Absolute Beginners track, ‘if my love is your love, we are certain to succeed’. Stage 5 – See for Miles Getting the Customer Experience vision agreed provides clarity of the expectations of the business and more importantly that creating customer value is accepted as a business model to create sustainable profits. To achieve this, the foundation must be the customer insight. By taking customer insights which have identified what matters most to customers in terms of what drives customer behaviour drivers (to secure more of their share of category). These proven and prioritised drivers are fused with the brand values we create a unique set of Customer Standards. These provide the organisation with an accessible and relevant framework for all employees to review their role and actions against and ensure internally and customer facing improvements are consistent. They also can be energised as the overarching Customer Experience vision; the poster boy/girl of the cultural change. This becomes the reference name (hopefully at the top) on the board agenda. When underpinned with a sound customer experience programmes covering the five pillars of CX Management; measurement, culture, challenges, process management and governance. With all in place, we can dare to dream and now we have a vision and a road map to take us there. The calm before the storm where you can see for miles and miles ahead of you. Stage 6 – Rush hour With the permission to fail, underpinning governance, budget to upgrade data sources, dedicated personnel and a vision to create value for the customer, we are off! But there is so much still unknown that the first 6-12 months are frantic. It’s like a corporate rush hour. As each ‘AS IS’ customer journey is mapped, more data gaps and embarrassing breaks in the journey are unearthed. Individuals dash-off to repair their  mistakes, the digital team can run very fast and new ideas become reality and are launched. It’s a time where discipline is needed. The ambassadors manage the pace, the CX activities such as Customer Journey Mapping and Improvement Ideation are stewards by the CX team in collaboration with areas of the business, a measurement of progress is set against progress* and prioritisation is aligned to what matters most to customers and gives the greatest advantage gain.

    * Beware of sinking most of the CX budget into a customer feedback system which gives a performance number linked to something which doesn’t correlate to profit. Verbatim doesn’t need to come in torrents through every data touch point. And don’t forget, feedback platforms becomes part of the experience, not just a measurement of it.

    You do need a truth and a prioritisation model. We use EXQ (Experience Quality Measurement) which is 25 customer behaviour drivers which have been proven (1,100 case studies) to account for 90% of customer’s decision-making. If introduced as the foundation layer of customer insight, at this stage it’s well established as the ‘customer truth’. Put ‘customer value’ at the wheel (to paraphrase Jane) and it becomes clearer. Stage 7 – Don’t stop me now With all involved, the right customer insights driving decision-making and priority improvement calls being rewarded with greater customer share of category commitment as a result of their value appreciated in the improved experience. If at this stage customer experience is set up as a growth strategy, then progress will be made. The Vanguards of CX enjoy 600% ROI, but only 3% of organisations are classed like this. With success behind you, growth opportunities to build improves experiences, a road map pointing to sustainable competitive advantage and colleagues who feel good and are rewarded for adding customer value, nothing will stop you now. Stage 8 – Perfect Day Everything is aligned around adding value to the customer. Both business planning and customer management processes are now revised to add value to the customer. Listening systems are in place so feedback informs what needs further improvement and why. And with commercial and data analysts on board, any improvement can be measured against new agreed customer performance measures. In this perfect world, new recruits, both employees and customer mention CX as a reason for joining,  the experience as a consideration on their decision-making. The CEO asks whose idea it was to become customer-centric and the response is, ‘all of us. And then you find the transformation is wanted by the HBR or similar for a CX Case study – What a perfect day. Stage 8 – Happy ever after – Lovely Day As long as the CX team are focused on helping the business driving value for customer, CX is a long and sustainable strategy. It becomes a new way of working. Keep CX positioned as a growth opportunity. Keep listening customers. Keep understanding what matter most to them. Keep ensuring the business knows it’s purpose is to fulfill these and keep highlighting where the organisation can work harder to meet and exceed customers expectations in a more motivating (on brand) way than the competitors. From here on every day should be a lovely day. Everyday is a Lovely day thereafter. So there we go, from start to a continuous non-end, my soundtrack to our CX life. Do you agree? If you’ve got a better soundtrack thought for any of the stages, I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s only a bit of fun. But that’s both important in CX too. Posted by Christopher 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.          

  • Why we need to rethink how we measure Customer Experience January 3 2018

    There’s a rage of words between Ryanair and anyone measuring their Customer Satisfaction which presents a different score to what they believe it is.

    Which! have a 52% rating for Ryanair. PA Consulting have them pegged even lower. Whereas Rate My Trip has a 92% customer satisfaction rating. Ryanair understandably support Rate My Trips’ poll.


    But forget the squabbling, the real enemy here is the lack of understanding of how customer satisfaction is calculated and inconsistency in collating and measuring customer satisfaction across sectors.

    Which! has a significant proportion of their measure accounted for by price related criteria. The number of ‘value for money’ criteria varies depending on the industry. Weightings in these studies also do not appear weighted so all criteria are of equal importance. These measures are then wrapped up and badged as overall Customer Satisfaction. So the definition of customer satisfaction reflects the organisation (and their motive) presenting it.

    This isn’t unique to Ryanair. I’ve met numerous insight managers who do not agree with the criteria used by others to measure their performance.

    If you asked a customer what the criteria should be and how much weighting to apply to their situation, I am sure you would receive back as many combinations as customers asked.

    But for those consumers who include these satisfaction measures in our choice criteria are usually unaware of the wide and varied ways companies collate and grade customer satisfaction.

    ‘Satisfaction’ as a measure of performance also provides an unreliable indicator for companies to track, according to studies completed by Prof. Dr Phil Klaus, world leading academic on customer experience. No one said it was an indication of profit, but many companies do share CSAT at board level assuming if it goes up, so the company will be more profitable.

    Ryanair could be the most profitable short haul carrier around but have the lowest satisfaction rating. If they operate a budget airline then something has got to give. In their case it’s the experience of the customer. Is it sustainable? Perhaps yes. This year’s poor Customer Service has delivered a 20% increase in share price YoY for Ryanair.

    So Customer Experience practitioners should be cautious about  presenting Customer Satisfaction increases as a sign of business profitability improvement. In the Wealth Management and Private Banking sector studies show those topping the customer satisfaction polls are way off the pace when it comes to corporate profitability rankings.

    Affected behavioural change is a very reliable measurement approach because it’s an ‘actual’. Whereas satisfaction is a measure of a customer’s sentiment at a moment in time. Similarly, NPS measures an intention to be actioned. They do not reflect what customer’s are or will actually do. Measuring what changes a customer’s behaviour is an actual.

    We can measure CX impact on behavioural change, so why do companies prioritise satisfaction?

    It’s an easy one to put to customers. They get it. However if you discuss the concept of ‘context’ when capturing customer satisfaction, most admit they struggle to detach satisfaction with anything more than the here and now they are asked about.

    So if a purchase went well the customer might feedback a high score. However, if part of that transaction was the reassuring returns policy which then turns out to be useless, they cant go back and correct transaction moment score even though it was influenced by the perception of the returns policy.

    VoC platform providers like Satisfaction as well. It’s a one question solution. It can be asked across channels and compared between journeys, segments and other variables.

    Is there a more accountable measure available?

    There is a much more reliable customer experience measure. One which presents 90% accountability of what CX drives customer’s decisions. One which has been proven to be 90 times more reliable than CSAT and NPS in identifying what drives customer’s decisions. One which would enable both Which! to reflect more accurately the complex set of criteria customers use to inform decisions and is based on ‘actual’ contribution to the company rather than a sentiment score such as satisfaction.

    This measure is known as Experience Quality Measure (EXQ). It’s not widely known about because it’s an academics measure for customer experience. We found it a few years ago and now find it fascinating. Academics are interested in discovering the truth rather than headline scores so it’s a more ‘spikey’ data set to work with, but so much more informative. !0 years or so a group of academics agreed CSAT and NPS weren’t reflective of the truth, with a less than 1% reliability of customer’s actual decision making being attributed back to scores provided on these measures, so the pursuit of a more accountable measure led to the creation of the award winning EXQ.

    It was identified there are 300 drivers which influence 100% of our decision making. It’s complex. But further studies discovered over 90% of decisions can be identified through just 25 of these drivers. At this level it becomes a study to be put to customers, as we have now done several times. 

    What does EXQ deliver?

    • Identifies which customer experiences matter most to customers decision making
    • Highlights the importance of each of these drivers (typically 8-9 drivers account for 66% of decision making)
    • Identify the customer experiences companies deliver which have almost no impact on customer’s decision making – creating immediate opportunities for saving
    • Because we collate ‘share of category’ decision making we can highlight how your score benchmarks to your competitors and what drivers that is based on. This provides an indication of true differentiation, as perceived by your customers. As well as expected experiences for the sector
    • Provide cross-border comparisons to enable groups to make truly global customer  comparisons
    • We use an award winning academic research designed to get the truth of customer experience
    • It’s a one off study which is not reliant on tech platforms so can be delivered in 6 weeks
    • It’s a study and not a tech solution, so the cost is comparable to a few focus groups

    In EXQ studies we have run with clients, we highlight the 25 most important customer experience behavioural drivers. What is often surprising to clients is that what really matters most to customers is very different to the areas the company has invested it’s marketing budget on. The decision is then whether to accept the new insight and rethink the strategic choices they make or to bury it and pretend it never happened and hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them. We’ve run studies where both outcomes have played out!

    EXQ is not for the faint hearted, but it is for those driving for successful in CX. Studies have been run with over 1,100 companies around the globe which highlight the best performing EXQ companies achieve a 600% ROI from CX. Although only 3% achieve this.

    For more on EXQ click the link below. Or contact Christopher Brooks at Lexden to find out how with just 6 weeks (and a fraction of the cost of CSAT) you can have a CX which will refocus your CX efforts around ‘what matters most’ to your customers and what drives your bottom line.

    If you are considering this option, it might be worth undertaking a ‘comparison’ study using EXQ to identify what really drives profitability. EXQ can also informs what customer behavioural drivers deliver CSAT and NPS scores – which can be most revealing. This time in two months you can have the answer for the equivalent of a months VoC running costs.

    But it EXQ isn’t for you, when it comes to measuring CX be sure that 1) it reflects what’s important to your customers decision making and 2) you are certain of the impact on profit of chasing CX targets.

    Posted by Christopher 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.


  • How small Customer Experience steps make a big difference November 28 2017

    Most of the time I spend on Customer Experience is focused on helping clients design effective  customer experience programmes to drive profit through adding customer value. However, I never cease to be amazed at how much of a lasting impression small experience gestures have on me.

    Why does small count so much?

    When I look back at these scenarios, there is a common thread. They typically occur when I’m least expecting it and have the ability to change my emotional state. The direction of which is from neutral or negative to positive.

    They come about when there is an unexpected block to fulfilling my intention or things work unreasonably against me. These aren’t points of pain, but moments of truth because each company has managed to create an experience between me and the brand which has stuck with me.

    Also, these are quite unremarkable and low interest moments of a customer’s journey, but they’ve been turned into more than that.

    Is small cheap too?

    Whilst I don’t think either of these examples featured cost that much to install, I’d like to think the way in which it’s delivered is coded, guided by strong Customer Standards. I have found this the most successful method for rapid, widespread and welcomed adoption of Customer Experience in an organisation. Importantly, it helps remove inconsistency because a badly delivered small experience can back fire and trivialise the customer’s primary requirement

    #1 Halfords make good from a bad situation

    I collected my bike from the station one evening after work to discover the back light had been taken (I normally remove it but forgot on this occasion). It was dark so I wheeled it through our high street to Halfords. I took my bike in and explained what happened. The shop assistant pointed me to the ‘lights section’ empathising with my story and reminding me to remove my lights in future. I paid for the light and was about to leave. He then stopped me, looked at my front tyre and put on a missing valve cover saying that will help keep my tyres inflated. By taking that extra concern for me, he lifted my spirits too.

    #2 Abellio take control and save the day

    I often find the train company I use has plenty friction points, largely due to the hugely complex nature of running a train company. I get that, and often accept it. When you travel a standard route in a standard way, things normally work out okay. But on this occasion I’d had a call from a contact who was flying in to Stansted airport and wanted to meet me. I was at  Liverpool Street Station at the time but only had a return ticket home which was two few stops before Stansted.

    I tried to figure out what to do on the ticket machine to buy an extension to my journey. But with only a couple of minutes until the next train, I was failing. I then noticed a ‘call me’ button. I called out of desperation because I thought I’d miss my train.  A voice came from beyond the machine and I explained what I needed and how short the time I had. The operator then took control of my screen and navigated through a complicated series of steps to get to the ticket I needed.

    It worked out as £4 rather than than £15 I’d arrived at, and within a few seconds, so I caught my train and made my meeting. All the time thinking, wow, thank Abellio, you made this happen.

    Never let the small moments pass by. Make them count in a brand differentiated way.

    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.


  • 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

    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)

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

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