Claire BonniolClaire BonniolMarch 14, 2019


I am always inspired by corporate brand image when assessing the Customer Experience maturity of a company, since these values and the brand positioning form the blueprint for future consistency.

Delivering a consistent, attractive service requires that a corporation explains the ‘why and how’ to its staff on a regular basis.

With this in mind, I recently discovered a Finnair brochure at a business event in London, and found it an interesting example of this form of communication. It also reminded me of some of the key questions we must ask ourselves when forming brand comms strategies.

What’s the journey?

The brochure tells us “Back to the Nordic Way” and talks about the “Nordic experience”, highlighting the strong values the company adheres to and evoking a specific time and place. This isn’t always easy for an airline. Air France did a similar thing when it used “le luxe, c’est l’espace” as it’s baseline, but this method of communication and promotion proved confusing for the audience, as it focused solely on business class passengers and overlooked those flying economy, who certainly did not have roomy flights to look forward to.

However, the Finnair brochure uses rich imagery, with wild, untamed Nordic landscapes and a mindset of freedom and respect, all of which sounds consistent and appealing brand-wide.

Which values will staff embody?

The Finnair brochure describes Nordic hospitality with three simple words: courage, commitment, and simplicity. These are modern customer values, which showcase a brand willing to move with the times.


We don’t live in a stable world, and emphasising courageousness allows Finnair to tell customers they will always adapt to meet new challenges. Anyone who has worked front-line knows courage is vital, as B2C customers become more and more unpredictable and even more aggressive in their approach. Courage conveys pride and pleasure at direct contact with customers.


The brochure describes a “commitment to care”, which is certainly essential in today’s landscape. Surveys show that customer engagement is largely the result of care, not of luxurious features or even money spent. Customers like to feel that crew members and other staff are there to support their journey, and empathise with their feelings, fears and excitements. Kindness, proactivity, and good manners are evergreen in customer-facing industries.


This helps to differentiate the company from its competition, and is lofty goal which many of us are working towards. Considering the airlines which would cite simplicity as a customer value, I would have first considered a brand like easyJet. Yet hearing that Finnair believes in this concept seems logical, and aligns well with the Nordic values they have already espoused. Where once ‘simple’ might have conveyed negative connotations, today it is more about removing complications – something which is particularly important to travellers.

Providing evidence

Beautiful values and great use of language is never enough to attract or satisfy customers; they require tangible, measurable proof. Looking through the rest of the brochure, a few were clearly explained and outlined, which I felt helped to differentiate Finnair:


The company provides short connections such as the hassle-free transfers at Helsinki airports, which don’t seem as stressful as comparative trips from areas like Heathrow or Paris. In addition, flights are shorter thanks to the Eastern position of Finland, and Helsinki is one of the more punctual airports.


There is an emphasis on fewer emissions and greater fuel efficiency, green landings and an air filtration system on-board.

Differentiated comfort

The airport is fully connected, with spacious rooms and a calming atmosphere, utilising mood lighting to set the tone. Lounges additionally contain saunas.

What’s in it for me?

Every professional in the process of improving their Customer Experience must work closely with their branding and communication departments to see what messages are currently being delivered to customers – even long before they use the service.

This form of baseline – the values oriented towards customers – is often not communicated clearly enough for either customers or employees to grasp, so they are unable to move the agenda forwards.

It should be compulsory to check a couple of times a year that all materials embody brand values at each stage of the customer journey, whether that journey is physical or digital.

This is the first step of what we do at CXB HUB. We get to know the CX strategy of each brand and assess for consistency gaps and how we can solve them. This takes brains and experience courtesy of CX innovative practitioners. Working together with research and digital solutions, stronger CX experiences can be built from the ground up.

Claire BonniolClaire BonniolMarch 22, 2018


You might look at some other companies with envy, the kind of companies that customers love – which create buzz and are referenced by impressed CX professionals.

Yet your own company could be the kind that others look up to when it comes to offering the best in Customer Experience. At CXB Hub, we look to what we call the ‘ABCs of Customer Excellence’.

The four As in benchmarking

A for Apple: The famous tech firm, which gave the world the iPhone and other iconic gadgets, has raised the standard of collaborative, premium, community Customer Experience.

A for Amazon: The champion of e-commerce. Founder Jeff Bezos earned his customer reputation due to his incredible efficiency in logistics and large-scale algorithms which push marketing info to the consumer to advise them on other purchases they may like. Another ‘A’ would be Alibaba, the Chinese answer to Amazon, which gives its western rival a real run for its money.

A for Accorhotels: Hospitality is a great source of inspiration for any industry wishing to deliver better Customer Experience, and who knows hospitality better than this famous French hotel booking firm.

The four Bs of your business model

‘B’ in this case stands for ‘brain’, and these are the four brains you need to consider when improving your brand’s CX.

The Customer Brain: When deciding on your business model, you should be clear on the level of self-care you want for your customers and ensure that you listen to his/her needs.

The Customer-Facing Employee Brain: Everyone in the company should have those employees as a top priority, and ensure they get the best information, the best training, and the best tools to deliver the greatest service possible.

The Back Office Employee Brain: Teach them about what is important for customer-facing employees to deliver the right experience. Tell them about customer insights and share some real experience, so that they focus on the wellbeing and performance of the customer-facing employees.

The Hard and Software Brain: Ensure that you have the right amount of digital tools aligned with your exact business model, with the aim of making things simplified for the customer.

The four Cs of your customer service excellence programme

Customer and Employee Voice: This is a must. Do not act before analysing the situation properly because your resources are limited; this helps with successfully prioritising.

Co-Design and Collaboration: Design your services with customers and employees, and then innovate in the kind of collaboration activities you need.

Culture and Communication: This is about service delivery. If there are more than 25 people in a single office, you run the risk of discrepancy between the brand identity and service business model, and the real company culture. Work on your brand identity and your cultural traits. Train and communicate on how to deliver the experience consistent with your brand.

Calculation of the Impact: Carefully choose a few KPIs that will make you understand whether you have an impact externally (customer satisfaction and sales) and internally (employee engagement and performance).


Claire BonniolClaire BonniolDecember 14, 2016


As we gear up for Christmas and increasingly rely on online retail rather than the high street for our shopping, it is worth taking a look at the quality of service we receive as an online shopper. In our survey ‘The UK and Services,’ conducted earlier this year, e-commerce was found to be the most highly-ranked industry on a Net Promoter Score (NPS). 25% of customers gave e-commerce a 9 or 10 satisfaction rate, but at the same time it scored the least well on a ranking of friendliness and cheerfulness (only a 68% score). It was also relatively low in terms of customer consideration (65%) and in its ability to bend rules to satisfy customers (54%).

With Christmas lights already decking our cities, we have carried out an unofficial poll among colleagues and friends to get a snapshot of their online customer experience at Christmas time. Very few said they did not use online shopping and their reasons included leaving the shopping too late or fear that the goods will not arrive on time. These were also the customers who felt it more important to be able to touch, smell or see the product before buying.

Among those who were happy with their customer experience, the fact that goods arrived on time was always one of the most important factors contributing to their satisfaction. Other significant factors included the quality of the after-sale (what happens if the size is not correct or the product needs to be replaced), and the simplicity of the purchasing process – making sure it is quick and convenient. The quality of the wrapping and the message put in the parcel also contributed to a positive experience.

Despite all of these positive experiences, 60% of our sample did have a bad experience to share. By far the greatest dissatisfactions were due to delays – no one is going to show any slack to a service that has forced them to buy additional presents because the parcel did not arrive. These delays were not seen among the major online retailers but tended to occur from the lesser-known brands. Another cause for dissatisfaction was complexity of the ordering process.

Of those surveyed nearly all will use online retailers for their Christmas shopping this year, even if they experienced problems last year. Expectations include efficient and fast delivery but extra touches such as festive wrapping or personalized notes go a long way to enhancing the experience. Interestingly, the delivery itself is an important part of the experience and a major expectation of our panel.

Our projection is that Christmas 2016 will be the year of delivery and logistics. 

Throughout the year we experience different types of delivery. If you choose the collection point, what you are looking for is proximity, and that you don’t have to be at home to receive your parcels. On the other hand, you absolutely don’t know in advance the kind of customer experience you are going to receive, because every single point of delivery has its own style and courtesy (or not) to treat you as a real customer.

If you receive your delivery at home, the retailer is relying either on the delivery service to reinforce the high quality service you are expecting of them, or it can be reinforced through further contact. In the case of Ikea in the UK, they send an email or text message before the product arrives which demonstrates a great level of consideration and understanding of the customer needs as well as making it as easy and efficient as possible to sort out any problems should they arise.

Reflecting the growing understanding that delivery is an integral part of the customer service process, Academie du Service has recently launched a special partnership with a start-up called You2you whose goal is to provide brands with a dedicated quality of delivery, based on an Uber-type business model. Academie du Service will provide ‘youzers’, the delivery providers, with certification that they have undergone training to ensure that reflecting the customer service of the product they are delivering is an integral part of their offering.

Other brands have also acknowledged the importance of delivery in the customer journey. Sister companies Rajapack, a packaging firm and Morplan, a retail fashion industry supplier, do not make products themselves so recognize that customer service is their lever for getting a competitive advantage. When it comes to their third-party carriers who deliver their products they accept that they are the window onto their service, even though they are not part of the company. To combat this they hold meetings with carriers to explain their expectations and senior staff sometimes get involved directly in the customer experience after goods are dispatched to ensure that everything has been up to scratch. They will carry out checks to ensure a carrier has collected parcels on time from the warehouse and if not they will contact the carrier, investigate the problem and try to fix it – or get in touch with the client to advise of any delay. This underlines the focus on the human touch in service culture.

Returning to the importance of the products themselves, a new trend is to make sure packaging is more eco-friendly. Nespresso for example now delivers in boxes that can be reused for many other purposes.

But according to our sample, when it comes to Christmas, we all appreciate something a little festive to enhance our experience. A personalized note or something to lift our spirits and remind us that it’s a good feeling to buy presents to make others happy can go a long way to make us feel well-disposed towards our online retailers. Yes, e-commerce can be friendly and cheerful too!

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