Paddy WhitewayPaddy WhitewayApril 24, 2018


The successful rise of tech-first companies such as Amazon and Uber have taken service delivery and Customer Experience to new levels.

This has bought into stark focus the quality of service provided by longer-established companies. Customers now expect the same high level of service from every company they deal with and many are struggling to achieve it.

Companies try to improve, but miss the fundamental point that providing great Customer Experience isn’t about an ‘add-on’ function – it requires the company to organise its entire structure around it.

In other words, behind every great service is a great organisation; the quality of the Customer Experience is indivisible from the ecosystem within the business that provides it.

Not understanding and acting on this inherent duality is why companies fall short.

Services are social systems, designed by people for others to deliver and use, so it’s important to not only have the right skills to design services and experiences, but also the capability to support people across the organisation to develop the Customer Experience function and shape a customer-centred company culture.

The practice of service design makes this possible and involves four fundamental steps.

1. Designing the experience

Without a clear vision, an understanding of your customers and a definition of the future experience, there is no defined target for the service and value it should provide. Contributing teams and front-line colleagues need to understand why, and in what, they are investing their time and energy for them to be motivated and committed.

To help succeed you need to:

• Conduct qualitative design research and draw inspiration from leaders in related worlds
• Develop the vision, principles, and strategy that will underpin the success of the target experience
• Imagine and detail new solutions and design omnichannel journeys to meet the needs of different customer personas
• Define the value case to reassure decision makers of the rationale for investment and change

2. Defining the enablers

In order to understand what’s needed to deliver the target experience and the associated changes, the new service ecosystem of enablers, requirements, roles, and partnerships needs to be defined. In turn, this informs the operational design and implementation roadmaps with which to mobilise and engage delivery teams.

In this stage you need to:

• Identify the enablers needed to achieve the stated outcomes for the customer and business
• Design the service ecosystem and determine how each component will relate to each other
• Co-create the operational design and the defined roles required to deliver the new services
• Plot experience roadmaps to focus energy and sequence the projects that drive the step change

3. Scaling the CX function

Establishing a new Customer Experience or service design function within a business requires a level of support, integration, engagement, and tools that organisations may not be familiar with. This requires C-Suite backing and a dedicated team with the right blend of skills and design-thinking.

These teams are no longer in place just to complete service development cycles, or to give implementation of the seal of approval. Their role is integral to inspiring and supporting the organisation to invest in services and deliver them well.

The activities that help you succeed here are:

• Running Customer Experience training to engage teams in the design process and tools used
• Supporting the integration and reach of CX teams and helping them engage others in their role in the Customer Experience
• Engaging stakeholders in co-developing the change plans, roles, and responsibilities to realise delivery
• Creating the right structure and governance to support and empower CX teams

4. Shaping the company culture

For the team to function, the experience to be backed and the enablers to be delivered, you need a compatible, supportive, and on-side environment. Aside from the direct Customer Experience function, everybody needs to see the value and understand their role in delivering the experience.

If organisations can create a customer-centred culture, the experience and new ways of working will get traction and become established faster. A great starting point is assessing to what extent you are customer-centric today and to what extent you need to be in the future.

In this stage you need to:

• Assess Customer Experience maturity across the business and identify areas of focus
• Run leadership team and frontline colleague training in new ways of working
• Involve colleagues in service design projects to demonstrate the value of a more collaborative approach

Paddy WhitewayPaddy WhitewayApril 7, 2016


Like it or not, we’re all service businesses and reputation is everything. There are three truths about a company’s reputation which mean you’re only as good as your last customer’s experience.

Every business, no matter what, has customers who have needs and expectations to be met. McKinsey say over 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they’re treated – customer experience is the ultimate driver of business success.

The new challenges

However, gone are the days when delivering service was a one-to-one affair. The ever-expanding range of sharing platforms – comparison sites, customer reviews, social media – means word spreads quickly. What customers say about the experiences you provide can be accessed instantly. The impact can be global.

To make things more challenging, customers expect to engage spontaneously across a number of channels: online, on the move, at retail or by phone. This is often hindered by out-dated procedures, infrastructures and systems struggling to keep pace with what’s expected.

Also, customers don’t discern by sector when judging experiences – their benchmark of service excellence may have been set by best practice in other sectors. Thus, the three truths are:

  1. Your reputation precedes you
  2. You’ll thrive or fail because of it
  3. It’s becoming harder to maintain or improve every day

So, what can you do?
There are a number of things you can do to prepare for and put in place a better customer experience to protect and improve your reputation.

The first thing is to know yourself – how customer-centric is your organisation? Does your culture and management support this approach? If you don’t know, you must conduct an assessment of your organisation’s customer-centricity.

Virgin Media, for example, on doing this implemented a programme called Voice of Our Brand which consists of behavioural frameworks and coaching materials to support staff in delivering perfect customer interactions. Since implementation, 10,000 frontline staff in call centres, retail stores and installation teams have been trained. The result? A 400% ROI and a 28 point increase in transactional NPS.

Then it’s a case of knowing your customer. Conduct qualitative and quantitative research to better understand the emotional needs of your customers. What are their drivers, behaviours and challenges? What do they value? What will win their loyalty, satisfaction and praise?

Philips identified a need, then created a Retail Service Platform of rich tools and services for retailers to effectively manage their assets and customer touch-points to deliver an enhanced and profitable in-store experience for their customers. The result? A 100% increase in retail sales.

After this, map out the existing customer journey – what we call an As-Is Journey Map. Examine the current journey customers take across your service. What are the steps they take, specifically where are the pain points/moments of delight? Knowing where these are will allow you to identify opportunities to ideate solutions that make the experience more valuable for both parties.

Mercedes Benz, for example, identified and, consequently, substantially differentiated their after-sales service offering to create compelling reasons for customers to choose, remain loyal to, and recommend them. All this whilst ensuring the change was desirable and achievable for the franchise network. An indication of this is that the programme has been successfully rolled out in over 40 countries worldwide.

Virgin Atlantic improved the customer journey by envisaging and building the future Terminal 3 experience for each class at Heathrow. The result was a 75% reduction in check-in times.

This exercise will undoubtedly reveal the key issues. Customers’ experiences are, ultimately, governed by a whole host of factors ‘behind the scenes’ such as your platform of resources, technology, policies, procedures, behaviours and cultures. It’s important to pin point the root because any of these may have on the frontline effects you see.

In terms of effect, sometimes improving the customer experience can bring softer improvements such as overall satisfaction, NPS, staff morale, industry awards or a change in a company’s culture towards being more customer-centred. Heathrow Airport, for example saw a 45% increase in passenger satisfaction as result of completely remodelling the premium passenger security experience, which has created a distinct and appealing brand for the service.

It’s important to know where you’re going. Create a view of your ideal customer experience for different customers and get the organisation excited about it. ‘Future Customer Journey Maps’ are key here.

Finally, it’s about knowing how to change. Assess your organisation’s readiness to change and get the right people on board. Don’t try and do it all at once, instead, break things down into structured programmes of work.

It’s not always about doing something new, it can often be about stopping something you are already doing. Finally, it’s vital, but often overlooked, to make sure you have the right methods for measuring success.

A take-away

The key thing to remember is every touch-point your customer interacts with during their journey with your brand – each one is a mini-experience in itself. Cisco estimates, that depending on the product or service, consumers touch your brand an average of 56 times between inspiration and transaction. This means you must ensure that each one fulfils your customer’s expectations and contributes positively to the overall experience.

Potential benefits await through increased revenue, reduced costs, improved efficiencies, increased customer traffic, greater spend per transaction and improved lifetime value.

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